Girls who begin menstruating early should be watched for depression

Girls who begin menstruating early should be considered for enrolment in early intervention programmes to tackle depression, UK researchers believe.

A team from the University of Bristol and the University of Cambridge found that girls who experience earlier menarche are at greater risk of developing depressive symptoms during adolescence.

The risk is particularly high for those who experience menarche before 11.5 years old, compared with those experiencing normal or late menarche.

The researchers suggest that early timing of menarche may be an important aetiological factor in the emergence of depressive risk.

‘Future research should be aimed at identifying the mechanism of action of early menarche on risk of depressive symptoms,’ they said. ‘School- and family-based programmes aimed at early intervention and prevention could target early maturing females.’

The study findings, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, were based on data from 2,184 girls taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

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