Alcohol consumption, history of a mental disorder, and having 4 or more living children were among several risk factors for postmenopausal depression identified in a new study. Researchers published the findings in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.
“These results will be beneficial for raising awareness about depression among postmenopausal women and conducting screening for early diagnosis,” researchers wrote.
The findings stem from a cross-sectional study involving 485 postmenopausal women from an obstetrics and gynecology practice in Sakarya, Turkey. The women were aged 35 to 78 years; the average age was 56.3 years.
Although previous studies have put the rate of postmenopausal depression at 70%, this study identified a frequency of 41% among participants. Researchers explained the difference by pointing out that their study focused on women who had attended a specific hospital outpatient clinic and not a community sample of women. The younger average age of participants may have also played a role.
Key risk factors for postmenopausal depression included being a widow or being separated from a spouse, alcohol consumption, a history of any illness that required continuous medication, the presence of a physical disability, a history of a physician-diagnosed mental disorder, and having 4 or more living children.
“A high number of children may lead to a decrease in the time allocated for herself by the woman, the time spent with the spouse, and sexuality,” researchers wrote. Also, “in the postmenopausal period, women may continue to deal with childcare as grandmothers.”
The study found no relation between depression and fear of death. Again, they suspect the younger age of study participants may have affected the finding.
Ozdemir K, Sahin S, Sevimli Guler D, Unsal A, Akdemir N. Depression, anxiety, and fear of death in postmenopausal women. Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. 2020 June 29;[Epub ahead of print].