Depression

Hormonal Changes that Trigger Depression in Women

Many experiences unique to women, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause

Posted Jul 22, 2015

Great news, readers! 

1. Announcing my recently revised, completely updated edition of 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child 

2. I am also pleased to share, below, the following very important information concerning women's health from guest blogger and writer, Mel Thomas.

Hormonal Changes that Trigger Depression in Women

It has long been known that depression is much more commonly experienced by women than by men. The lifetime risk of depression for women is around 25%, which is around double the lifetime risk for men. Why is there such a large disparity in the rates of depression experienced by women and men? One of the most influential factors is the way in which women are affected by the hormonal changes they go through during and after their reproductive years.

Episodes of minor, moderate, or major depression can be triggered by pregnancy and menopause, and by menstruation. It's thought that this happens because fluctuations in female hormones such as progesterone and estrogen—which occur during puberty, throughout the month as part of a woman's menstrual cycle, during and after pregnancy, and during menopause—can in some women trigger changes in brain chemistry that lead to depression. Women have an increased risk of hormonally-triggered depression if they have previously suffered from depression, or if they have family members who have been depressed.

Antidepressants can successfully treat depression that is triggered by hormonal fluctuations, in particular a kind of depression called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is related to the menstrual cycle. However these medications are not always an appropriate kind of treatment. For women who are pregnant or nursing, for example, antidepressants are typically only prescribed when absolutely necessary, due to the risk of exposure to a fetus or newborn child. And for women who are experiencing depression as a consequence of going through menopause, antidepressants are often useful, but for some women, hormone replacement therapy is a better option.

Depression is a serious problem, but there are solutions. For more information about depression causes and symptoms, and how to get help, see this article on depression in women at Psychguides.com.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist, personal and executive coach, and motivational speaker in the greater Philadelphia area. He has been on the Today Show, National Public Radio, and has written four popular books, including 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (New Revised Second Edition), Why Can't You Read My Mind?10 Days to a Less Distracted Child,  and Liking The Child You Love.

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