Increased frequency of depressive episodes during the menopausal transition in women with bipolar disorder: preliminary report

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Bipolar Disorder; Depression; Estradiol; Female; Hormone Replacement Therapy; Humans; Menopause; Middle Aged; Prevalence


Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


OBJECTIVE: Data are emerging in bipolar disorder regarding mood across phases of the female reproductive life, yet information about mood during the menopausal transition remains limited. The menopausal transition in women without mood disorders is associated with an increase in depression. This study assesses mood course during the menopausal transition in women with bipolar disorder.

METHODS: We monitored mood episodes in 47 women with bipolar disorder ages 45-55 for 17.0+/-14.0 months with systematic treatment enhancement program for bipolar disorder (STEP-BD) standardized evaluations. Charts were additionally reviewed for menstrual status and menstrual history, as well as mood episode type, duration, frequency and history.

RESULTS: During the menopausal transition 68% of women with bipolar disorder experienced at least one depressive episode. Depression (but not mood elevation) episode frequency significantly increased during the menopausal transition compared to reported frequency during patients' reproductive years. History of pre-menstrual and or post-partum mood instability did not predict perimenopausal mood episodes.

CONCLUSIONS: Women with bipolar disorder experience a high frequency of depressive episodes during perimenopausal years and this frequency appears greater than during prior reproductive years. Prospective controlled studies are needed to better understand the course of mood episodes and to enhance the effectiveness of managing bipolar disorder during the menopausal transition.

DOI of Published Version



J Psychiatr Res. 2008 Feb;42(3):247-51. Epub 2007 Jan 30. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of psychiatric research

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID