The impact of depression on quality of life (QOL) and social support has neither been well characterized in clinical samples of women with perimenopausal depression (PMD) nor have the relative contributions of depression and other menopausal symptoms (e.g., hot flushes) to declining QOL been clarified. In this study, we compared QOL measures, social support, and functional disability in PMD and non-depressed perimenopausal women. We evaluated women aged 40-60 years who presented with menstrual cycle irregularity, elevated plasma FSH levels, and met criteria for perimenopause. A structured clinical interview was administered to determine the presence or absence of major and minor depression. Outcome measures included the Quality of Life Enjoyment Scale Questionnaire, the Sheehan Disability Scale, the Global Assessment of Functioning, the Social Adjustment Scale, and the Duke Social Support Index. Kruskal-Wallis tests and ANOVAs were used to compare outcome measures. Ninety women with PMD and 51 control women participated in this study. Women with PMD reported significantly decreased QOL, social support, and adjustment and increased disability compared with non-depressed perimenopausal women. Neither perimenopausal reproductive status alone nor the presence of hot flushes had a significant negative impact on QOL measures. PMD is accompanied by significant reductions in QOL, social support, and disability similar to depression in women at other stages of life. PMD may also contribute to decreased QOL in community- or clinic-based samples of perimenopausal women. It remains unclear whether the clinical characteristics we identified reflect pre-existing risk factors for depression during the perimenopause or the effects of a current depression. Future clinical and treatment studies in perimenopausal women should distinguish depressed women when outcome measures include QOL.
Keywords: Depression; Disability; Perimenopause; Quality of life; Social function.