Women who experience multiple traumatic events and chronic stress during their teenage years face a higher risk of depression during menopause than those who don't—even without a history of depression, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
In a study conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine, the first of its kind to focus on the role of childhood adversity in the onset of major depressive disorder (MDD) during menopause, researchers concluded that hormonal changes in menopause might expose a previously hidden risk in women.
“Our results show that women who experience at least two adverse events during their formative years – whether it be abuse, neglect, or some type of family dysfunction– are more than twice as likely to experience depression during perimenopause and menopause as women who either experienced those stressors earlier in life, or not at all,” said lead author C. Neill Epperson, who serves as director of the Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness.
The research team enrolled 243 women between 35 and 47 years old, all deemed premenopausal with normal hormonal cycles, for behavioral, cognitive and endocrine evaluations at intervals over a 16-year period from 1996-2012. They each received approximately 12 assessments for cognition and mood in addition to providing blood samples to measure hormone levels. In the final years of the study, the women gave phone interviews to assess menopause status and determine any adverse childhood experiences that might reveal a potential link to health outcomes.
To read the full article written by Michael Tanenbaum, click here.