Background: Postmenopausal women with depression frequently have co-occurring symptoms of hot flashes (vasomotor symptoms), sleep disturbance, anxiety, and pain. Treatment strategies that target all of these symptoms together have not been investigated to date.
Method: Study participants were postmenopausal women, 40 to 60 years old, with major depressive disorder (DSM-IV criteria) and vasomotor symptoms. The study design included a 2-week, single-blind placebo run-in phase followed by an 8-week open-label flexible-dosing (60-120 mg per day) study of duloxetine for women who did not respond to placebo. The primary outcome measure was change in Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score during 8 weeks of duloxetine therapy. Secondary outcome measures included changes in vasomotor symptoms, sleep quality, anxiety, and pain. Analyses were conducted using non-parametric methods. Patients were enrolled in the study from May 31, 2005, through May 22, 2006.
Results: Of 30 women eligible to participate in this study, 20 initiated treatment with open-label duloxetine. Fourteen (70.0%) of these women completed the study. There was a statistically significant decrease in MADRS scores after 8 weeks of treatment (p < .001), with scores declining from 19.0 (interquartile range [IQR] = 15.0-21.0) to 5.5 (IQR = 3.0-9.0). There was also a statistically significant improvement in vasomotor symptoms (p = .003), anxiety (p = .002), sleep quality (p < .001), and pain (p < .05).
Conclusions: Postmenopausal women with depression and vasomotor symptoms had significant improvement in depression, vasomotor symptoms, sleep, anxiety, and pain after 8 weeks of open-label duloxetine therapy. Given the common co-occurrence of these symptoms in postmenopausal women, duloxetine may offer important therapeutic benefits for postmenopausal women who have depression and menopause-related symptoms.