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Hormones and Mood -- Introduction
(Updated December/2007)

It's amazing how little is known about some really basic things -- like what causes PMS, for example.  But finally this is becoming an active topic:  major new findings will be posted here as I learn about them. For example, (Jarva, 2007): 

I keep worrying that I am missing something.  So, even though the news is not good, I was slightly reassured by an article in the daily newsletter for the journal Science, entitled "What Is the Link between Women's Hormones and Mood Disorders?"  Referring to a recent review of this issue published by faculty from the University of Alberta, the article concludes that although women are 1.5-3 times more likely to suffer from depression than men, "researchers are only beginning to recognize the complex interactions among estrogens, serotonin and mood."


To read from the researchers who actually study these things directly, go to the Harvard team's Center for Women's Mental Health (www.womensmentalhealth.org).  Read on if you want my personal opinion after reading the experts'.   

For example, in my opinion you won't hear enough from most sources about approaches for PMS that do not involve medications at all.  You need a balanced presentation of your options, whether you have "PMS" or something else.  You may also need some help learning how to decide among them.  

From the point of view of a general (not specialist) psychiatrist interested in the complex relationship between hormones and mood, here are some specific topics you may find interesting:  

Over time I'll be back with links to other websites or my own descriptions of new research and its implications.  Finally, you may have noticed I am particularly interested in complex mood disorders like Bipolar Disorder.   These disorders are strongly affected by hormone changes.  Here is my working model for now on how these conditions relate. 

A Working Model of Hormones and Mood

 

As an illustration of how little we know, but how much we might need to learn, here is a "pure research" (as opposed to clinically applicable) article about how cyclic changes in estrogen affected females' ability to withstand stress (in rats, in this case).