Menopause and Illness Course in Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review

Bipolar Disord. 2017 Sep;19(6):434-443. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12530. Epub 2017 Aug 10.


Objectives: Menopause may be a time of increased mood symptoms for some women. This systematic review aimed to examine the severity of symptoms and prevalence of mood changes in women with bipolar disorder during peri-menopause and post-menopause.

Methods: A systematic review was undertaken in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The two primary outcomes assessed were relapse rates and symptom severity during menopause. Databases searched were MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsychInfo, CINAHL and SCOPUS from January 1980 until December 2016.

Results: Nine studies, including a total of 273 participants diagnosed with bipolar disorder and who reported menopause, were included in the narrative synthesis. Menopause was reported to be associated with increased symptoms overall, and with depression in particular (range of 46%-91%). The collection of self-reported retrospective data was the most commonly used method to record menopause status.

Conclusions: The impact of menopause on illness course for women with bipolar disorder is largely under-explored. Preliminary evidence suggests that it may be associated with increased bipolar symptoms. Further work is needed to explore how menopause may interact with bipolar disorder over time and the nature of these symptom changes, and if and how menopause may differ from other reproductive stages.

Keywords: bipolar disorder; hormonal mood changes; menopause; reproductive.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder* / physiopathology
  • Depression* / diagnosis
  • Depression* / etiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research