Depression common during perimenopause but not regularly assessed by providers

Almost 40% of women experience symptoms of depression during perimenopause, yet it often goes undetected and untreated because many healthcare providers aren’t screening for it and aren’t prepared with treatment options. A new study analyzed screening practices by women’s healthcare providers and their management of depression during perimenopause. Study results are published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

The high number of women experiencing symptoms of depression has been linked to hormone changes, historical depressive episodes, life events, and a genetic predisposition to depression. As more data emerges to support the presence of risk factors for depression during perimenopause and as the patient population continues to age, healthcare providers need to become better educated in order to recognize and manage depression.

Rates of routine screening and healthcare-provider beliefs and knowledge about symptoms of depression in perimenopause remained unstudied until now. The aim of this new study was to better understand clinical practice patterns of obstetrician-gynecologists regarding their screening practices and management of depression.

The survey was sent to 500 practicing obstetrician-gynecologists who were fellows of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and members of the Collaborative Ambulatory Research Network. It found that more than a third of respondents (34.1%) did not regularly screen perimenopausal women for depression and that more than half (55%) believed they were not equipped to manage the problem.

Higher-quality education about depression was associated with higher rates of screening. These findings suggest that improved training for obstetrician-gynecologists in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of depression, both in residency and later, could improve rates of screening.

Study results appear in the article “Obstetrician-gynecologists’ screening and management of depression during perimenopause.”

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