Increased depressive symptoms in menopausal age women with bipolar disorder: Age and gender comparison

Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.
Journal of Psychiatric Research (Impact Factor: 3.96). 02/2009; 43(8):798-802. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.11.003
Source: PubMed


Emerging data suggest the menopausal transition may be a time of increased risk for depression. This study examines the course of bipolar disorder focusing on depressive symptoms in menopausal transition age women, compared to similar-aged men as well as younger adult women and men.
Outpatients with bipolar disorder were assessed with the systematic treatment enhancement program for bipolar disorder (STEP-BD) affective disorders evaluation and longitudinally monitored during naturalistic treatment with the STEP-BD clinical monitoring form. Clinical status (syndromal/subsyndromal depressive symptoms, syndromal/subsyndromal elevation or mixed symptoms, and euthymia) was compared between menopausal transition age women (n=47) and pooled similar-aged men (n=30) 45-55 years old, younger women (n=48) and men (n=39) 30-40 years old.
Subjects included 164 bipolar disorder patients (67 type I, 82 type II, and 15 not otherwise specified), 34% were rapid cycling and 58% women. Bipolar II disorder/bipolar NOS was more common in women. Monitoring averaged 30+/-22 months, with an average of 0.9+/-0.5 clinic visits/month. Menopausal age women had a significantly greater proportion of visits with depressive symptoms (p<0.05), significantly fewer euthymic visits (p<0.05) and no difference in proportion of visits with elevated/mixed symptoms compared to pooled comparison group.
Menopausal transition age women with bipolar disorder experience a greater proportion of clinic visits with depressive symptoms compared to similarly aged men, and younger women and men with bipolar disorder. Further systematic assessment on the influence of the menopausal transition and reproductive hormones upon mood is needed to better inform clinical practice in treating women with bipolar disorder.

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