An increasing number of women are turning to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease the bothersome symptoms of menopause – hot flashes, bladder weakness, vaginal dryness, joint pain, brain fogSleep disturbances, anxiety and depression.
for many women, HRT Can help manage symptoms and reduce disruption to daily life.
The past five years have seen a doubling of monthly prescriptions for HRT in England alone.
Part of this growth is thanks to continued research on the widespread benefits of HRT and awareness campaigns menopause Experts and celebrities like Davina McCall.
As research into HRT continues, it is understandable that women may be concerned when they see studies or headlines showing potential harm from HRT use. Take a recent Danish study that showed an association between HRT use and depression.
Several media outlets reporting on these findings initially suggested that HRT “makes women depressed”. But while the study may have identified an association between HRT and depressionIt didn’t actually show that taking HRT made the women depressed.
understanding the results
This was a large study, which examined 825,238 women who were initially 45 years old and followed them for almost ten years.
Data on the type of HRT the women took and whether they were subsequently diagnosed depression was available from the Danish National Register.
The main aim of the study was to investigate whether there was an increased risk of being diagnosed with depression after starting HRT.
The results show that women who were given HRT locally (a vaginal creampessary or implant in the womb), there was no increased risk of being diagnosed with depression.
Indeed, researchers found that for women aged 54-56, topical HRT was associated with a lower risk of being diagnosed with depression.
However, women who were given HRT systemically (either through pills or through the skin using patches) were more likely to be diagnosed. depressionEspecially between the ages of 48 and 50, compared to women who were not on HRT.
They were also more likely to be diagnosed with depression in the year after starting treatment, but then declined over time.
Can we conclude that HRT increases the risk of depression? In short, no – mainly because this was an observational study and the researchers had no data on the women’s symptoms or reasons for starting HRT.
This means that we cannot rule out that some women may or may not have had undiagnosed depression before starting HRT.
Women may also be more vulnerable to depression in the years before and right after the onset menopause, This could potentially explain why women were more likely to be diagnosed with depression not long after starting HRT.
And it cannot be ruled out that women who started using HRT pills or patches did so because of more severe symptoms of menopause. This may explain why this group was more likely to receive a depression diagnosis later.
Similarly, topical HRT is usually given only for genito-urinary symptoms such as vaginal dryness — and not for women who are experiencing other menopausal symptoms, such as depression.
This may explain why women in the local HRT group were less likely to be diagnosed with depression.
According to current evidence and recommendations, HRT should still be offered to otherwise healthy women with moderate to severe symptoms during peri-menopause or early post-menopause, as the benefits outweigh the risks in this age group.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also recommended for the management of depression during menopause. Women with more severe depression should be referred for a formal mental health assessment.
Careful reporting of scientific studies is important, as inaccurate or misleading coverage and headlines can fuel years of fear and mistrust.
For example, HRT use dropped by 80 percent in 2002 when a study found HRT Breast Cancer and heart disease.
Although this study is now known to be flawed – and other studies have shown that HRT is actually beneficial for women’s cardio-metabolic health – the fear created by its media coverage left a legacy of anxiety and confusion that persists to this day. HRT remains around.
Media outlets that erroneously suggested that HRT causes depression in their initial coverage of the study may have inadvertently put some women off using HRT, meaning they may miss out on its benefits.
This is why it is so important to point out that studies have not shown that HRT causes depression.
In fact, some studies have shown that HRT may improve and even prevent symptoms of depression in women during menopause. In the future, larger studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits of HRT for depression.
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