Hormone Help To Avoid Menopausal Depression

Women suffer from more depression than men, almost double the rates, and we think that the sex hormones are the physiologic reason for this. It may not just be that women have that high level of estrogen that men don't, but perhaps it's their hormonal swings that are at the root of depressive symptoms. A new study in 2013 looks at this, in the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, and what they found was that depression was linked with hormone levels in the early menopausal transition. They also tried to look at the specific tests of hormone function, like using Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) as a marker. Their decided that SHBG helped them pin point bioavailable estrogen and testosterone in their patients. This attempted to repeat the work done by Barrett-Conner in 1999 when she looked at a large number of hormonal levels and worked out that only DHEA-S, an adrenal hormone was actually linked with symptoms. Menopausal health answers also continue to come from the National Institute of Health sponsored SWAN study! Estrogen use in the perimenopause, the time around menopause has been shown to ward off depression! In fact for each extra year of estrogen therapy women reported less depression. In fact women were tested for depression, and did better on actual screening tests for depression if they were on their estrogen, so the data was very strong indeed. The researchers found that estrogen helped even when other factors, like age, and smoking status, and prior use of anti-depressant medication was controlled for. The newer data help explains why this works for some women and not others: estrogen is linked more closely to depression in the transition years. And that too much bound hormone causes the symptom complex to be worse. So that estrogen, if you are in menopausal transition, may help depression. Estrogen as a treatment post menopause it has little to no effect any longer. Estrogen and testosterone therapy is not currently recommended as a specific treatment for depression. So If you have had a history of depression, perhaps you should discuss with your gyno what strategies might work to avoid having a relapse during the perimenopause.


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