AIM: There is a high incidence of depression in women presenting to menopause clinics. The aim of this review was to determine if there is an association between depressive symptoms or major depressive disorder (MDD) and vasomotor symptoms (VMS).
METHODS: A systematic review of the literature was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines. Ovid Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL and PsychInfo were searched using combinations of the following terms: hot flashes, hot flushes, night sweats, vasomotor symptoms, depression, mood disorders, depressive disorders, climacteric, menopause, perimenopause, menopause transition, cohort studies, epidemiological studies, cross sectional studies, longitudinal studies, retrospective studies, prospective studies. After combining search terms the following limits were used: human, female, English language.
RESULTS: 33 relevant publications were found, 12 from three large studies. Overall, we found a bidirectional association between VMS and depressive symptoms. This has been established in well conducted, large cross-sectional and cohort studies. There does not appear to be a relationship between VMS and MDD. However, studies examining VMS and MDD were prone to bias.
CONCLUSION: During perimenopause there is a positive, bidirectional association between VMS and depressive symptoms. There does not appear to be an association between VMS and clinically diagnosed MDD but methodologically sound studies are needed to confirm this finding.