However, the physical symptoms most often associated with menopause -- hot flashes and night sweats -- did not affect work ability or sick days for women in this study.
"The majority of the questionnaire items associated with adverse effects on the work scale are pretty general, and I don't believe are truly specific for menopause," said Dr. Jan Shifren, director of the Vincent Menopause Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
They included depression and anxiety, as well as "somatic" symptoms such as headaches, muscle and joint pain and dizziness. Somatic symptoms are physical manifestations of mental states such as anxiety.
"I think [the authors'] true conclusion is that mid-life women who are experiencing increased anxiety and depression and somaticize a lot are more likely to have trouble at work," said Shifren, who is also on the board of the North American Menopause Society. "This is not necessarily true of all menopausal women and should be reassuring to women having hot flashes and night sweats."
Anxiety and depression do tend to peak at mid-life, Shifren pointed out.
"You can see that probably any depressed person, male or female, would have trouble with work ability," Leath added.
Also, the researchers only took into account women's own perceptions of their work ability, which is not an objective measure, Shifren said.
The authors themselves pointed out several limitations of the study, including the fact that the study design could not establish cause-and-effect. Also, participants were all in a similar field of work, which may have biased the results.
And Leath pointed out that only 24 percent of women contacted actually responded to the questionnaire.
The good news is that there are treatments for anxiety and depression as well as ways to alleviate symptoms of menopause
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