Risk of high depressive symptoms after the final menstrual period: the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN)

Menopause. 2022 Jul 1;29(7):805-815. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001988.


Objective: To examine depressive symptoms during postmenopause and the contribution of depressive symptom trajectories before the final menstrual period (FMP) and psychosocial/health factors to postmenopause depressive symptoms.

Methods: Longitudinal analysis of depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale) collected every 1 to 2 years from 1996 to 2017 from 1,551 midlife women in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation for a median follow-up of 19.0 years. Latent class growth analysis identified depression trajectories from baseline to FMP. Multivariable random effects (woman as random effect) linear or logistic regression models were conducted.

Results: Women had higher odds of reporting high depressive symptom score (≥16) during postmenopause than when they were premenopausal (OR = 1.49, 95% CI, 1.09-2.04), but not when perimenopausal. Three pre-FMP trajectories were identified: Group 1 (47.7%), consistently low scores, Group 2 (39.9%), moderate scores below the high depressive symptom threshold, and Group 3 (12.4%), consistently high scores. Both the moderate (OR = 2.62, 95% CI, 1.89-3.66) and high score (OR = 6.88, 95% CI, 4.72-10.02) groups, compared with the consistently low group, had significantly higher postmenopausal depressive symptom scores. Other pre-FMP variables associated with high postmenopausal depressive symptoms were: higher odds of childhood trauma/maltreatment, poor role physical, high anxiety symptoms, sleep problems, high vasomotor symptoms, and lower odds for chronological aging and lower social support.

Conclusions: Compared with premenopause, postmenopause remains a period of increased risk for higher depressive symptoms, especially for women with pre-FMP depressive symptoms. Pre-FMP depressive symptom trajectories are highly predictive of postmenopause depressive symptoms independent of health and psychosocial factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Depression* / diagnosis
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Menopause* / psychology
  • Premenopause
  • Women's Health