Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Degree Program

Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Worldwide, between 5 and 18% of postmenopausal women experience depression. While the associations of estrogens with depression have been researched extensively, relations with other postmenopausal hormones remain unclear. We evaluated the association of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels with prevalent depression the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (n = 588). Study participants were postmenopausal women aged 53 to 73 years and not using hormone therapy at enrollment (1998-2001). FSH was measured by radioimmuno-assays. Depression symptoms were measured using a scale based on DSM-III criteria (score range = 0-12), with a score ≥5 indicative of probable depression. We assessed the relation of FSH levels with depression in multivariable linear and logistic models adjusting for age, body mass index, estradiol, antidepressant use, and other factors, and evaluated effect modification by age. In adjusted analyses of all participants, higher FSH levels were associated with lower prevalence of depression (OR comparing ≥50 vs/L = 0.50, P = 0.02). Each 10-unit increase in FSH was associated with a 17% lower prevalence of depression (95% CI 0.70-0.99). Regression coefficients for Quartiles (Q) 2-4 vs. Q1 of FSH were 0.208, -0.170, -0.472, respectively (P = 0.14). Associations were mainly observed in older women (OR 0.47, P = 0.05; ages 64-73 years). Higher FSH levels in older postmenopausal women were associated with lower prevalence of depression and depressive symptoms, independent of estradiol, adiposity measures, and other factors. Further research is warranted to evaluate mechanisms underlying these associations, including effects of FSH on immune function.

First Advisor

Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson

Second Advisor

Katherine Reeves