Depressive symptoms associated with physical health problems in midlife women: A longitudinal study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


It is unclear if the relationship between depression and physical health problems in women is related to age, reproductive stage, obesity or socio-demographic risk factors.


Longitudinal data were obtained every 6 months for 36 months in 264 midlife African American, Caucasian and Latina women who began the study as healthy regularly menstruating 40 to 50-year-olds; 75 transitioned to peri- or post-menopause by 36 months. Scores of 16 or higher on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale were used to estimate depression risk.


Depression risk was 28% at study initiation and 25% at 36 months. Significantly more women at risk for depression were unemployed, obese, or hypertensive. Women at risk were more likely to become peri- or post-menopausal during the study period. A higher percentage (38%) of overweight and obese women had CES-D scores ≥ 16 compared to normal weight women (23%; p < .001). Over half (58%) of the 73 women at higher depression risk at the initial visit reported a health problem or chronic illness at 36 months, compared to only 36% of the 191 women with CES-D scores <16 (p = .001).


This was a secondary analysis of data from a relatively healthy sample of women in the decade before menopause. Chronic illness was self-reported and the CES-D is a screening tool for depressive symptoms rather than a clinical diagnostic tool.


Health care providers may be underestimating the impact of unemployment on depressive symptoms, obesity and chronic health problems in midlife women.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jones, HJ; Minarik, PA; Gilliss, CL; Lee, KA

Published Date

  • February 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 263 /

Start / End Page

  • 301 - 309

PubMed ID

  • 31818793

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6989369

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-2517

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0165-0327

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jad.2019.11.166


  • eng