Nighttime hot flashes may trigger depression symptoms during menopause

women depression

Women are at increased risk for mood disturbance during the menopause transition. Hot flashes, sleep disruption, and fluctuating estradiol levels are related with menopause-associated depression.

In a recent study, researchers find that a high number of nighttime hot flashes can trigger mild symptoms of depression during menopause. The finding is published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Massachusetts, and National Institutes of Health conducted the study.

They examined whether depressive symptoms were associated with nighttime hot flashes. A total of 29 healthy non-depressed premenopausal women took part in the study.

Their depressive symptoms, sleep patterns, subjective sleep quality, serum estradiol, and hot flashes were measured before and 4 weeks after a treatment that mimicked menopause and induces menopausal symptoms to varying degrees of intensity.

Researchers found that hot flashes developed in 69% of the women. In addition, worsening of mood was predicted by increases in time in light sleep, number of transitions to wake, non-REM arousals, subjective sleep quality, and reductions in perceived sleep efficiency, as well as the number of nighttime hot flashes.

Furthermore, the number of nighttime hot flashes increased in non-REM arousals and transitions to wake. The reduced sleep quality remained significant predictors of mood deterioration.

Researchers suggest that depressive symptoms emerge after estradiol withdrawal in association with sleep disturbance and the number of nighttime.

This means sleep-disruption and nighttime hot flashes both contribute to vulnerability to menopause-associated depressive symptoms in women.

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Citation: Joffe H, et al. (2016). Independent Contributions of Nocturnal Hot Flashes and Sleep Disturbance to Depression in Estrogen-Deprived Women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, published online. DOI: 10.1210/jc.2016-2348.
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