BACKGROUND: Within the female life cycle, the perimenopause is considered as a critical period for the development of depression. Prevalence rates are particularly high during this phase. Perimenopausal depression is characterized by affective symptoms as well as menopause-specific somatic complaints. Currently, a variety of questionnaires are used to assess mood during the perimenopause. The aim of this review is to determine the instruments employed to assess perimenopausal depression.
METHODS: We searched the databases PubMed, Cochrane Library and PsycINFO for human studies investigating perimenopausal depression, and subsequently screened for the assessment instruments used to measure mood and menopause. A total of 37 articles were included.
RESULTS: Altogether, 14 different instruments were applied to assess mood during menopause. The CES-D was by far the most frequently used depression scale, appearing in 16 out of the 37 studies. The methods used to identify perimenopausal status and symptoms were inconsistent.
LIMITATIONS: Due to lacking information about data and methodology, a selection bias is conceivable. Additionally, a publication bias is possible. Finally, there is inevitable subjectivity in the screening process of a systematic search.
CONCLUSIONS: The assessment of depression in the menopausal transition is highly heterogeneous, reducing the overall comparability of study results. Furthermore, menopausal complaints are not sufficiently taken into account. Accordingly, the use of a menopause-specific depression scale is highly recommended in order to account for physical and mood-related symptoms in the menopausal transition.