New research sheds light on the link between depression in menopause and cognitive function.
Investigators have found evidence that depression during menopause is associated with cognitive performance.1 Anxiety and sexual dysfunction were also linked to issues with cognition.
The study, conducted by Mankamal Kaur, MSc, and Maninder Kaur, PhD, included 404 women (107 were premenopausal, 90 were perimenopausal, 92 were early postmenopausal, and 115 were late postmenopausal) and evaluated the effect of the severity of menopause symptoms such as anxiety, depression, hot flashes, and sexual dysfunction on overall cognitive performance and its 5 domains: attention, language, orientation, recall, registration, and visuospatial skills.1,2
The Greene Climacteric Scale and Hindi Mini-Mental State Examination to assess cognition and considered the severity of common menopause symptoms.
Kaur and Kaur used multivariate linear regression model and found, after adjusting for age, marital status, and educational status, severe depression and greater sexual dysfunction were significantly associated with lower Mini-Mental State Examination scores.
Specifically, the investigators found that the severity of menopausal symptoms, including depression, total psychological, sexual, and somatic dysfunction, were highest for individuals who were in late postmenopause, while anxiety and hot flashes were most prevalent in those in early postmenopause.1 Kaur and Kaur also reported that women who experienced these severe menopausal symptoms had lower mean values compared with those without severe symptoms for the domains studied: 8.11 versus 8.9 for orientation; 4.31 versus 4.48 for attention; 7.13 versus 7.91 for language and visuospatial skills; 2.26 versus 2.53 for recall; and 2.77 and 2.91 for registration.
Although previous studies found an association between the cognitive performance and hot flashes, Kaur and Kaur did not identify such a link.2
“Mood disturbances are common in the menopause transition and can affect memory and sexual functioning,” Stephanie Faubion, MD, FACP, NCMP, medical director at North American Menopause Society, said in a press statement.2 “These findings underscore the importance of evaluating women for menopause symptoms and providing appropriate treatment, when indicated, including treatment of depression and sexual dysfunction.”
1. Kaur M, Kaur M. Is cognitive performance of women sensitive to the severity of menopausal symptoms? Menopause. 2022.
2. North American Menopause Society. Severity of menopause symptoms can affect a woman’s cognitive performance. News release. January 12, 2022. Accessed January 26, 2022. http://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/press-release/cognitive-performance-affected-by-severity-of-menopausal-symptoms.pdf
An earlier version of this article was published with our sister publication, Pharmacy Times.