Nav: Home

Experts call for better research into link between women's hormones and mood disorders

December 12, 2007

Countless movies and TV shows make light of women's so-called "moodiness", often jokingly attributing it to their menstrual cycle or, conversely, to menopause. In fact, mood disorders are a serious and pervasive health problem, and large-scale population studies have found women are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to suffer from major depressive disorder than are men.

In a newly published study, women's health experts from the University of Alberta argue there is an urgent need for carefully designed, gender-specific research to better understand the relationship of female sex hormones to mood states and disorders.

"The reasons for the gender disparity in rates of depression are not completely understood," says Kathy Hegadoren, the Canada Research Chair in Stress Disorders in Women at the University of Alberta.

"But there is growing evidence that estrogens have powerful effects beyond their role in reproduction--that they play a critical role in mood disorders in women--and this opens new avenues for research into the underlying biological mechanisms and treatment of depression."

Estrogen can be used to treat various mood disturbances in women--such as perimenopausal, postmenopausal and postpartum depression--but the results of these treatments can be difficult to interpret because researchers are only beginning to recognize the complex interactions among estrogens, serotonin and mood.

"Right now, clinical use of sex-hormone therapies for the treatment of mood disorders is severely hampered by the inability to predict which women would respond well to such therapies," explains study co-author and U of A nursing professor Gerri Lasiuk.

"Most animal studies looking at the causes of depression have been conducted with male animals and use chronic-stress models, which are assumed to be similar to depression."

Hegadoren and Lasiuk's study recognizes that multiple factors may be at play in the development of mood disturbances, with individual, psychosocial and environmental factors interacting in complicated ways to create differential vulnerability in women and men. But they also point out that the link to sex hormones is hard to deny.

"Previous research has found that, before puberty, the rates of mood and anxiety disorders are similar in boys and girls. It's only after females begin menstrual function that a gender differential in mood disorders manifests itself. This, coupled with the observation that women appear to be especially vulnerable to mood disturbances during times of hormonal flux, certainly lends support to the claim that a relationship exists between sex hormones and mood," says Hegadoren.
-end-
The study, co-authored by Hegadoren and Lasiuk, appears in the October 2007 issue of the journal Biological Research for Nursing.

Source: University of Alberta, Office of Public Affairs

University of Alberta

Related Depression Articles:

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.
Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.
Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.
Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.
Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.
CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Post-natal depression in dads linked to depression in their teenage daughters
Fathers as well as mothers can experience post-natal depression -- and it is linked to emotional problems for their teenage daughters, new research has found.
Being overweight likely to cause depression, even without health complications
A largescale genomic analysis has found the strongest evidence yet that being overweight causes depression, even in the absence of other health problems.
Don't let depression keep you from exercising
Exercise may be just as crucial to a depression patient's good health as finding an effective antidepressant.
Having an abortion does not lead to depression
Having an abortion does not increase a woman's risk for depression, according to a new University of Maryland School of Public Health-led study of nearly 400,000 women.
More Depression News and Depression Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.