Women and Depression

It comes as no surprise to women that there is a relationship between their hormone fluctuation and the potential for experiencing depression. Studies of this kind have not been pursued until fairly recently.

The prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently looked at this subject and explored the potential relationship to hormonal dysfunction and depression in women.

The recently published report was a review on how the female reproductive system interacts with the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. This is a major regulatory mechanism of the body’s stress response.

With the important data that women are twice as likely as men to experience depression, it is this mechanism which sets up a biochemical environment for depression, that the NIWH investigators looked closely at.

Stress in women impacts the reproductive hormones which can upset patterns of ovulation, hormone secretion and implantation. Mediated through the HP-axis, tThis upset can contribute to the lost of menses and to infertility.

If the stress becomes chronic and exert an ongoing imbalance on the female reproductive hormones, behavior and mood disorders and depression can significantly increase.

When the powerful reproductive – love hormone, oxytocin is suppressed due to excessive stress hormones, fertilized eggs cannot implant into the uterus. This significant result of chronic stress is believed to be a primary cause of infertility in American women.

A key to preventing or correcting the problem is to create a more balanced, less stressful lifestyle. When our body’s stress adaptation system becomes overwhelmed, many disorders and conditions can develop, depression being just one of them.

The NIH investigators reported that regarding postpartum depression, ongoing hyper-secretion of the stress hormone cortisol during  pregnancy creates a temporary drop in adrenal function following delivery. This hormonal change coupled with the plummeting levels of estrogen after giving birth may be an important factor in post-partum depression and possibly in immune dysfunctions, such as postpartum thyroid conditions.

With all good wishes,
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