Guideline No. 422c: Menopause: Mood, Sleep, and Cognition

Published:November 03, 2021DOI:



      Provide strategies for improving the care of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women based on the most recent published evidence.

      Target Population

      Perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.

      Benefits, Harms, and Costs

      Target population will benefit from the most recent published scientific evidence provided via the information from their health care provider. No harms or costs are involved with this information since women will have the opportunity to choose among the different therapeutic options for the management of the symptoms and morbidities associated with menopause, including the option to choose no treatment.


      Databases consulted were PubMed, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Library for the years 2002–2020, and MeSH search terms were specific for each topic developed through the 7 chapters.

      Validation Methods

      The authors rated the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. See online Appendix A (Tables A1 for definitions and A2 for interpretations of strong and weak recommendations).

      Intended Audience

      physicians, including gynaecologists, obstetricians, family physicians, internists, emergency medicine specialists; nurses, including registered nurses and nurse practitioners; pharmacists; medical trainees, including medical students, residents, fellows; and other providers of health care for the target population.


      • 1
        The perimenopausal period is a window of vulnerability for the development of depressive symptoms and major depressive episodes, even in women with no history of depression (high).
      • 2
        Factors related and unrelated to menopause contribute to the occurrence and severity of mood symptoms in mid-life. Factors related to menopause are those that are context-related or timing-related, such as vasomotor symptoms, sleep disturbances, and health problems, whereas those unrelated to menopause represent a continuum of risk that precedes menopause, or longitudinal risk factors, such as unemployment, smoking, and lifetime history of anxiety (high).
      • 3
        Recent large-scale studies show an elevated risk of depression in women following hysterectomy, with or without oophorectomy. A history of primary ovarian insufficiency, which occurs in 1% of women, is also associated with an increased risk of depression (high).
      • 4
        Poor sleep quality, as measured both subjectively and objectively, is common among women in the perimenopausal and postmenopausal periods (high).
      • 5
        Cognitive symptoms, such as worsening memory and slower cognitive speed, are often reported among newly menopausal women, and these symptoms have been demonstrated in prospective, longitudinal studies (moderate).


      • 1
        Proven therapeutic options for depression at any life stage (i.e., antidepressants, cognitive behavioural therapy, and other behaviour-based psychotherapies) should remain the first-line treatment options for depressive symptoms and episodes during the menopausal transition and postmenopausal years (strong, high).
      • 2
        For women experiencing recurrent episodes of depression during the perimenopausal period, selection of antidepressants should consider the patient's response to and toleration of previous trials of antidepressants (strong, moderate).
      • 3
        For women experiencing new-onset depression, both adverse effects (e.g., sexual dysfunction, weight changes) and drug–drug interactions (e.g., between specific selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tamoxifen) specific to this population should be considered (strong, moderate).
      • 4
        There is some evidence that hormone therapy has antidepressant effects similar in magnitude to those observed with classic antidepressant agents in perimenopausal women with depression, with or without concomitant vasomotor symptoms (strong, high). However, hormone therapy is ineffective in treating depressive disorders in postmenopausal women, suggesting a possible window of opportunity for the antidepressant benefits of hormone therapy in perimenopause (strong, moderate).
      • 5
        The approach to poor sleep during the menopausal transition should initially include education about sleep hygiene, and primary sleep disorders should be ruled out (strong, high).
      • 6
        Vasomotor symptoms are a significant contributor to sleep disruption and should be addressed; hormone therapy may improve sleep when vasomotor symptoms are present (strong, high).
      • 7
        Several other therapies for sleep have shown benefit, including cognitive behavioural therapy–insomnia (strong, high), aerobic exercise, eszopiclone, venlafaxine, black cohosh, and valerian root (strong, moderate).
      • 8
        For women with cognitive complaints, lifestyle modifications are recommended to decrease the risk of cognitive decline. These include increasing aerobic exercise and including vegetables in the diet more often, as well as limiting the potential influence of hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerotic disease (strong, high).
      • 9
        Menopausal hormone therapy has not been shown to significantly improve measures of cognitive function over several years of use (strong, moderate).



      CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), CBT-I (cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia), HT (hormone therapy), MDD (major depressive disorder), PSQI (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor), VMS (vasomotor symptoms)
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