Depression linked to girls with early menstruation

Jan 04, 2011 By Joanne Fryer
Depression linked to girls with early menstruation

Girls who begin menstruating at an early age are at greater risk of depressive symptoms during their adolescence, according to new research by academics from the University of Bristol and the University of Cambridge.

The research published in the January issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry examined the link between timing of a first period and depressive symptoms in a sample of 2,184 girls taking part in a long-term study known as the Avon of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

The researchers used a structural equation model to examine the association between onset of menstruation and depressive symptoms at ages 10.5, 13 and 14 years.

The mean age at which the girls in the study group started menstruating was 12 years and 6 months. They found that girls who started their periods early (before the age of 11.5 years) had the highest levels of depressive symptoms at ages 13 and 14. Girls who started their periods later (after the age of 13.5 years) had the lowest levels of depressive symptoms.

Lead researcher Dr. Carol Joinson, Lecturer in the School of Social and Community Medicine at Bristol University, said: “Our study found that girls who mature early are more vulnerable to developing by the time they reach their mid-teens. This suggests that later maturation may be protective against psychological distress.

“The transition into puberty is a critical developmental period, associated with many biological, cognitive and social changes. These can include increased conflict with parents, the development of romantic relationships, changes in body image and fluctuating hormone levels. These changes may have a more negative impact on girls who mature at an early age than those who mature later. Early maturing girls may feel isolated, and faced with demands which they are not emotionally prepared for.”

Dr. Joinson concluded: “If girls who reach puberty early are at greater risk of psychological problems in adolescence, it may be possible to help them with school- and family-based programmes aimed at early intervention and prevention.”

However, it is still unclear from the current results whether an early period is associated with persistent adverse consequences for emotional development beyond the mid-adolescent period. The researchers point out it is possible that who mature later may eventually experience similar levels of psychological distress to those who mature earlier, after sufficient time has unfolded.

Explore further: One in 15 family docs focus time on emergency/urgent care

More information: Joinson C, et al. Timing of menarche and depressive symptoms in adolescent girls from a UK cohort. British Journal of Psychiatry 2011; 198:17-23

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Obesity in Teen Girls May Lead To Depressive Symptoms

May 26, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers, led by Kerri Boutelle, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found that obesity is a risk factor for depressive ...

Diabetes drug slows early-onset puberty in girls

Jun 16, 2008

In young girls at risk of early puberty and insulin resistance, the diabetes drug metformin delayed the onset of menstruation and decreased the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, according ...

Puberty in girls delayed with alcohol, tobacco use

Sep 15, 2010

The list of possible health effects from an early introduction to alcohol and tobacco use has just gotten longer. A new study suggests that early drinking and smoking might delay onset of puberty in girls — but the operative ...

Recommended for you

Coke, Pepsi pledge to reduce calorie consumption

5 hours ago

Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper said Tuesday that they'll work to reduce the calories Americans get from beverages by 20 percent over the next decade by more aggressively marketing smaller sizes, bottled water ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gmurphy
not rated yet Jan 04, 2011
Studies have linked the lacked of a stable male figure in a girls youth to earlier menarche, perhaps this also affects susceptibility to depression?