Articles

DHEA-S levels and depressive symptoms in a cohort of African American and Caucasian women in the late reproductive years.

Author

Morrison MF, Ten Have T, Freeman EW, Sammel MD, Grisso JA.

Date

11/2001

Journal

Biol Psychiatry

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to elucidate the associations of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) levels and depressive symptoms in African American and Caucasian women in the late reproductive years, a transitional age zone preceding the perimenopause, in which ovarian aging and associated endocrine changes begin. We had hypothesized that lower levels of DHEA-S would be associated with depressive symptoms and that, because DHEA-S levels decline with increasing age, older women would have an increased prevalence of depressive symptoms. METHODS: This cross-sectional study used a population-based urban sample recruited through random digit telephone dialing. The sample was 338 women between the ages of 35 and 47 years with regular menses. Half the sample was African American and half was Caucasian. RESULTS: Higher DHEA-S levels were associated with depressive symptoms in women in the younger half of this cohort. Lower DHEA-S levels were associated with depressive symptoms in the women in the older half of this cohort. The direction of the relationship of DHEA-S and depressive symptoms changes with age, being a positive relationship in younger women and an inverse relationship in the older women in this cohort. This change in the direction of the relationship appears to occur at a younger age in African American women. CONCLUSIONS: Our hypothesis of a relationship between low DHEA-S levels and elevated depressive symptoms was supported only in the older women in this cohort. Unexpectedly, younger women in this cohort demonstrated a positive association between DHEA-S levels and depressive symptoms. Changes in DHEA-S levels, depressive symptoms, and the relationship of other hormones in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis need to be better understood in premenopausal women approaching perimenopause.