Menopause Blahs? Try the Patch.
Is clinical depression associated with menopause? Early results are inconclusive -- some studies reveal no association between depressive symptoms and menopause, while others show significant increases in depression during this major life change.
It does appear that women who have had bouts with depression are more likely to relapse if their menopause transition is especially long or difficult.
While the jury's still out on the link between menopause and depression, there's good news for women no matter what the verdict. A report published in the Archives of General Psychiatry can be added to the growing body of evidence that supports a role for the estrogen patch in treating both clinical depression and perimenopausal depressive symptoms.
In a study conducted by Dr. Claudio de Novaes Soares of Harvard Medical School in Boston, 50 perimenopausal women were randomly divided into two groups. One group received the estrogen patch while the other received a placebo patch. About half of the women were suffering from clinical depression and the other half from minor depressive disorders.
After two weeks, almost 70 percent of the women treated with estrogen were better, compared to only 20 percent of the women who had received the placebo.
Women who have not undergone a hysterectomy would need to take progesterone along with the estrogen. Progesterone, however, can have a mildly depressing effect that could blunt the beneficial effects of estrogen.
So, if you think you may be suffering from a menopause-related case of the blues, ask your physician. Depending on your symptoms and medical history, a brief trial of estrogen replacement just may be the answer.