The study found women suffering from night time flushes are more likely to develop mild depression
For women entering the menopause, it can be hard adjusting to the symptoms that occur during this time. Hot flushes are particularly common and can happen at any time but a new study has discovered a possible link between having hot flushes and developing depression.
Hot flushes can be embarrassing when in public, can cause sleepless nights from night sweats and drain a woman’s energy adding to the stress of starting menopause – flushes can last as long as an hour.
The study led by Hadine Joffe of the Women’s Hormone and Aging Research Program at Harvard, involved 29 women who were pre-menopausal between the ages of 18 and 45. None of the participants suffered from mental illnesses, hot flushes or had any trouble sleeping. Each participant received a pill containing intramuscular leuprolide – a chemical that induces the temporary symptoms of menopause.
The group were monitored for depressive states, sleeping patterns, sleep quality and physical symptoms such as hot flushes over a period of 4 weeks. Each woman was asked to keep a diary of the occurrence of hot flushes in particular both in the morning and the evening. Results showed the women who experienced night time flushes were more likely to suffer from sadness and mild depression compared to daytime flushes or no flushes at all.
“These common menopausal ‘brain’ symptoms of hot flashes, sleep disturbance, and depressive symptoms often present together, and it is hard to know which came first and which problem may be contributing to the other in naturalistic studies,” Joffe explained to MedPage Today. “This approach also enables us to subtract out each women’s own baseline sleep and mood patterns in order to isolate the effect of hot flashes on sleep and mood.”
The study results show the importance of monitoring mood in women entering the menopause and for clinicians to ask more about sleeping patterns and hot flushes that occur at night as a possible indicator to early signs of mild depression.
Details of the research were published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.