Characterizing the longitudinal relations between depressive and menstrual symptoms in adolescent girls

Sarah J. Beal, Lorah D. Dorn, Heidi J. Sucharew, Lisa Sontag-Padilla, Stephanie Pabst, Jennifer Hillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examined the association between depressive and menstrual symptoms in adolescent girls in a 3-year longitudinal study. It was hypothesized that menstrual symptoms would increase in early adolescence and decrease in later adolescence, that girls with greater depressive symptoms would report greater menstrual symptoms, and that effects would persist after adjusting for general somatic complaints.

Methods: A community sample of girls (n = 262) enrolled in an observational study by age cohort (11, 13, 15, 17 years) completed three annual visits. At each time point, girls completed the Menstrual Symptom Questionnaire, Children's Depression Inventory, and the Youth Self Report to assess general somatic complaints.

Results: Menstrual symptoms increased significantly across adolescence (p =.006) and began to plateau in later adolescence (p =.020). Depressive symptoms at study entry were significantly associated with menstrual symptoms (p <.001). When general somatic complaints were included in the models, the effect of depressive symptoms on menstrual symptoms remained significant for the sum score (p =.015) and the menstrual somatic symptoms subscale (p =.001). After adjusting for somatic complaints, initial report of depressive symptoms predicted change in menstrual symptoms only for girls with the lowest menstrual symptoms sum score (p =.025). Initial report of somatic complaints predicted change in menstrual symptoms (p =.020).

Conclusions: Girls with higher depressive symptoms and higher somatic complaints are at greater risk for experiencing menstrual symptoms and increasing symptoms across adolescence, with a heightened vulnerability for girls with lower baseline menstrual symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-554
Number of pages8
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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