Estrogen and Depression

The sex difference in rates of psychiatric illness beginning at puberty and continuing throughout the reproductive years suggest that the brain's hormonal environment is the thing which modulate the risk and severity of psychiatric morbidity. Hormones play an integral role in the development and prognosis of psychiatric disorders has been increasing attention, especially along with depression treatment. The male-female contrasts in estrogen production throughout the reproductive years are responsible for the modulating the expression of depression between the sexes. Change in mood reported during the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and following childbirth mainly.

There are so many causes of increase in the rate of depression at the time of menopause and the recent research for it does not found any evidence that explain that the major depression increases after menopause, at a time when estrogen levels decline. But the thing is observed that post-menopausal women are increasingly vulnerable to depression as the estrogen production reduces in them. Actually the action of estrogen on neurotransmitter and receptor functioning are having the antidepressant symptoms. The main aim of estrogen is to enhance serotonergic functions like increases synthesis and uptake, post-synaptic receptor responsivity, and leads to up-regulation of 5-HT1 and down-regulation of 5-HT2 serotonin receptors.

Estrogen also increases norepinephrine activity in the brain which are responsible for improving the mood and cognition reported in women on estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and it also involves changes in monoamine oxidase activity. In non-depressed peri- and post-menopausal women though estrogen has been known to improve mood and sense of well being, estrogen alone but it does not improve mood in women with clinical depression. Estrogen as an adjunct to antidepressant therapy is also helpful.

Recently it is researched that the older depressed women in the age 60 years or more older on ERT who received sertraline had substantially improved well than women receiving sertraline alone. Estrogen augmentation for perimenopausal depression be reserved for a subgroup of women, those suffering from depression like postpartum depression or mood changes related to the menstrual cycle associated with changes in estrogen levels. There is a link between Estrogens and the onset, course and severity of depression suggesting estrogen supplementation may be a useful adjuvant therapy in selected depressed women.

Estrogen Source of Stress

As the survey on depression itself suggest that the stress-related depressions are seen twice in women as compared to men. Estrogens level is the main reason for this happening. Even mild levels of stress which don't affect men, can affect female very easily as their estrogen levels were elevated as estrogen makes the brain more vulnerable to stress. High levels of estrogen increases brain's response to stress which is responsible that women are more vulnerable to mental illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than men.

It is known that estrogen can interact with molecular processes involved in the stress response and that certain genetic variations have been demonstrated in clinically depressed women. But how these factors combine to produce the disparity in the prevalence of this disorder is unknown.

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