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Awaiting moderation 62148 Article

Mind and body in uterine function

        MIND AND BODY IN UTERINE FUNCTION
Links between reproductive function, mood and behaviour have been proposed for many years. Mothers who experience severe and persistent anxiety and depression after giving birth have been described as having postpartum depression. Women who consistently experience symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, aggression, depression and loss of concentration during the two weeks between ovulation and menstruation may be diagnosed as having premenstrual syndrome (PMS). And after a hysterectomy, women with heightened levels of depression may be said to have 'post-hysterectomy depression' syndrome. While not disputing that disturbances of reproductive function can affect mood and behaviour, and that the obverse may also apply, it must be said that many of the associations suggested to date seem oversimplified.
Doctors have suggested for many years that menopausal depression is a depressive disorder occurring specifically in the mid-life years and that it is different from other depressive disorders. Little evidence has, however, been found to support this idea. Studies have actually found high levels of well-being among women during mid-life. And, as far as hysterectomised women are concerned, there is little evidence that they are any more prone to depression after hysterectomy than before. In those cases where menopausal women are diagnosed as having psychiatric symptoms, there is a stronger association with important life events, relationships with children, and marital status than with cessation of menstruation. Furthermore, some women experience physical symptoms such as hot flushes without any psychiatric symptoms, while the reverse is true for others.
There is still much to learn about these associations as many of the studies carried out to date have involved small numbers of self-selected women rather than large random samples. The Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project is an attempt to overcome some of these deficiencies. It aims to help rectify a situation where the linkages described are, in the words of the United States Office of Technology Assessment, 'based on myths, unwarranted assumptions and conclusions derived from outdated, poorly constructed studies'.

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