, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 19-26
Date: 15 Dec 2003

Stressful life events, personal losses, and perimenopause-related depression

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We compared the number and quality of life events reported by depressed perimenopausal women and a non-depressed comparison group. Additionally, we examined the effects of the presence of hot flushes on life event reports. All women were 44–55 years old, had irregular menses and elevated plasma gonadotropin levels. The Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Interview recorded both the frequency of occurrence and the desirability of life events experienced by the women during the six months prior to the interview. Depressed perimenopausal women (n=50) reported significantly more undesirable events [Student’s t-test (unpaired) with Bonferroni correction, t98=3.9, p=0.001] but not more exit events (e.g., divorce, last child leaving home or death in family) (t98=0.9, p=NS) compared to the non-depressed women (n=50). There were no effects of hot flushes on these diagnostic differences. The “empty nest” syndrome does not appear to be relevant in the development of perimenopausal depression. Nevertheless, independent of the presence of hot flushes, perimenopausal depressed women are more likely to report both negative life events and diminished self esteem.