Increased vulnerability to mood disorders has been reported during perimenopause. Fluctuating estrogen levels accompany the perimenopausal transition. Thus, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) has been proposed as a potentially effective treatment for mood disorders occurring during perimenopause.We examined the efficacy of ERT in the treatment of depression in 16 perimenopausal women with DSM-IV-defined major depressive disorder who were participating in the Mood Disorders Research Program at the Department of Psychiatry of the University of California, Los Angeles. Ten antidepressant- and ERT-naive women received ERT alone. Six women who were nonresponders or partial responders to an antidepressant received ERT in addition to existing treatment with fluoxetine. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) was administered to all patients at baseline and weekly thereafter during the 8-week open-protocol trial. Partial response was operationalized as a final HAM-D score < or = 50% of the baseline score. Remission was defined as a final HAM-D score < or = 7.All patients exhibited clinical improvement as measured by HAM-D scores after the first week of treatment. Of the 10 perimenopausal depressed women receiving ERT alone, 6 remitted, 3 partially responded to treatment, and 1 did not respond by the end of the trial. Of the 6 women receiving antidepressant treatment with ERT, 1 patient remitted and 5 had a partial response by the end of the trial.This small study suggests that for some antidepressant-naive perimenopausal women with clinical depression, ERT may have antidepressant efficacy. In depressed women who have minimal response to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, ERT may augment response. Further controlled trials are needed.
View details for Web of Science ID 000175324600006
View details for PubMedID 11995778