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
-- 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
|SOURCE Society for Women's Health Research|
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