The study entitled “Depression at perimenopause: More than just hormones,” conducted by the Harvard Women’s Health Watch is a research study on the effect of hormonal fluctuations on the emotional state of women who are nearing the menopausal stage. In particular, this study intends to find a correlation between depression and changes in hormonal levels. This study analyzes the data obtained from Seattle Midlife Women’s Health Study. According to this article, researchers found that there is indeed an occurrence of depression during the transition period prior to menopause, or the so-called perimenopausal stage.
The study also tested the link between social factors and depression. Data were obtained from three hundred two women participants who were aged early 40s or late 30s. The fifteen-year study started in the early 1990s. For the period of study, researchers used the descriptive method in recording symptoms of depression among the participants, their menstrual cycles, period of hot flashes, and hormonal assays. From the results, inferences were then drawn. The study then uses both descriptive and inferential methods to draw their conclusions.
In this study, there were no independent or dependent variables. Instead, several factors were assessed. Aside from hormonal level testing, other factors like psychosocial and health issues were also considered. Previous occurrence of depression was also taken into account. Normally, women enter the menopausal stage in their early 40s to early 50s. That would mean that the perimenopausal period could occur at late 30s or in the 40s, depending upon the onset of the first menstrual flow.
This study focuses on women falling on the late 30s and early 40s age bracket. The backgrounds of the participants are diverged. Some have borne children, while others have not. There are those who experienced major depression early on like postpartum, while others have only slight periods of depressive symptoms. To obtain the data needed for the study, the participants were asked to record periods of depression, and depressive symptoms like low mood. The subjects also kept daily menstrual calendars in order to determine the menopausal transition stage.
They were also asked question related to hot flashes, health history, negative stressors being experienced, history of past abuses and early life depression attacks. To test for hormonal levels, the participants regularly submitted samples of urine. In using descriptive statistics in this study, the researchers interpreted and described what observations were gathered. For instance, totaling the number of times that depression was noted and in what form is an application of the descriptive method.
The inferential part came in when the researchers extended beyond what is observed. As an example, there is no quantifiable data that would link past abuses with depression in the perimenopausal stage. But the researchers have drawn the conclusion that abuses in early life could be a factor in depression prior to menopause. The study concluded that depression is a usual occurrence among perimenopausal women. However, the results show that hormonal level alone does not explain depression.
The researchers argue that combinations of factors like past emotional disturbances and social stressors also contribute to depression. I agree with the results of the study. Although past researches have indicated that hormones affect the emotional state, it is too limiting to say that it is the main reason. It is highly likely that a combination of factors would trigger depression in perimenopausal women. The accumulation of negative events prior to perimenopausal is the most likely reason for the onset of depression at this stage.