Study: Menopause Depression and Anxiety Linked to Burning Mouth Syndrome

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By Menopause Now Editorial Team | Updated: Jun 30, 2021


Burning mouth syndrome is one of the most poorly understood symptoms of the menopausal transition. Lack of effective treatments, both natural and pharmacological, adds to the overall distress for middle-aged women.

This clinical trial from India was carried out to understand burning mouth syndrome during menopause in more depth, particularly its prevalence and potential causes.

Study: Menopause depression and anxiety linked to burning mouth syndrome

Study Design

Included in this trial were 100 postmenopausal women, more than half of which (56) reported a burning sensation in the mouth and no visible lesions. The age range among participants was 43 to 85 years old.

Besides performing clinical evaluations of experienced physical symptoms, researchers also assessed their anxiety and depression levels with the General Health Questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale. Burning severity was measured with a five-point Visual Analog Scale (VAS).

Study Findings

Out of the 56 participants who experienced burning sensation, 43 of them considered it their primary compliant, with the remaining 13 reporting it as a secondary complaint.

In those 43 women with the primary burning sensation complaint, almost 79.06% had mild to moderate anxiety (and over 81.38% had mild to severe depression).

What Does It Mean?

There are several interesting findings that came out of this trial on prevalence of burning mouth syndrome in menopause as well as its most probable causes.

  • Firstly, the study showed that the prevalence of burning mouth syndrome among postmenopausal women is high, with over half of studied women reporting it both as a primary and secondary discomfort.

  • Secondly, in those experiencing a burning sensation, prevalence of anxiety or depression was also high, about 80% in both symptoms.

These discoveries suggest psychological factors - namely, anxiety and depression - as potential causes of burning mouth syndrome in menopause. Other suggested factors include neuropathy and hormonal imbalance, especially since burning mouth syndrome is more commonly found in women than men.1

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