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Why some women feel blue while others skate thorugh life’s transitions

Women are more prone to develop depressions and some are linked to specific hormonal changes they go through in life. But while some females battle post-partum or postmenopause depressions, others seem to skate through these transitions and according to a new study, it has a lot to do with one hormone in particular. 

Women are more prone than men to experience depression and some instances are linked to specific gender changes that they go through, form giving birth to reaching menopause. In America alone, 11 to 20% of new mothers will experience serious or sever forms of post-partum depression while 10% will go through pre-menopausal depression. And it can all be followed by postmenopause blues.

But while some women might feel all these transitions, some seem to simply skate through them. And according to a new study, the easy are hard way we experience these changes has a lot to do with one hormone in particular.

An article that just appeared in the journal of The North American Menopause Society shows a study conducted on 1,300 regularly menstruating premenopausal women aged 42 to 52 years, with the primary goal of understanding why some women are more vulnerable to depression, even though all experience these hormone fluctuations.

Previous studies have suggested that reproductive hormones could be causing this increase in susceptibility so the new research focused on one particular such hormone, estradiol. Estradiol modulates the synthesis, availability, and the metabolism of serotonin, a key neurotransmitter in depression. Fluctuations of estradiol during the menopause transition are universal, the duration of exposure to estradiol throughout the adult years varies widely among women.

What the study has found is that the longer a woman is exposed to estrogen from the start of menstruation until the onset of menopause, the less likely she is to develop depression during the transition to menopause and for up to 10 years postmenopause.

The research also found that the longer duration of birth control use is associated with a decreased risk of depression, but the number of pregnancies or incidence of breastfeeding had no association.

“Women are more vulnerable to depressive symptoms during and after the menopause transition because of fluctuating hormone changes,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS. “This study additionally found a higher risk for depression in those with earlier menopause, fewer menstrual cycles over lifespan, or more frequent hot flashes. Women and their providers need to recognize symptoms of depression such as mood changes, loss of pleasure, changes in weight or sleep, fatigue, feeling worthless, being unable to make decisions, or feeling persistently sad and take appropriate action.”

 

Sylvia Jacob

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