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Hormonal Changes and Depression: What is the Connection?
Date:11/13/2007

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The panelists noted that while it is natural for women to experience changes in their feelings and mood during life cycle transitions, hormonal fluctuations in some women may trigger mild to severe mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, particularly during pregnancy, postpartum and perimenopause. The report notes that postpartum depression affects 10-15 percent of women any time from a month to a year after childbirth and its cause remains unknown. Researchers suspect that the dramatic shifts in hormone levels during pregnancy and immediately afterward may result in chemical changes in the brain leading to postpartum depression. Similarly, perimenopause transitions in women may also increase risk of depression, and subsequently could lead to cardiovascular mortality.

"Science has revealed clues as to why these changes may occur in some women but further research is needed to definitively show what causes depression and mood disorders in women during hormonal transitions," said Schmidt. "The report outlines directions for further research, as recommended by myself and the roundtable participants."

According to the report, areas of research that need further exploration include:

-- Pregnancy: Research is needed to better distinguish symptoms of

depression from normal responses to the stressful experiences of

pregnancy.

-- Postpartum: Registries of collected reproductive safety information

on antidepressant, antipsychotic and anticonvulsant medications

must be created.

-- Perimenopause: Research is needed to uncover the susceptibility

markers that predict which women are at risk for developing

depression during perimenopause.

In addition to the report, the Society unveiled at the briefing a new national survey of physicians and consumers about their views regarding depression across hormonal transitions. The survey found that women underestimate depression
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SOURCE Society for Women's Health Research
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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