Over their lifetimes, women are twice as likely to suffer clinical depression than men. Low or imbalanced hormone levels can prompt depression in either sex, and insufficient estrogen in women has long been suspected. Now a comprehensive review of 30 years of research indicates that the trouble may not be low estrogen levels per se but sharp variations in those levels.
Estrogen balances often change significantly during puberty and menopause, as well as during a woman’s monthly reproductive cycle. In each circumstance, when the level shifts, a woman may experience a greater chance of depression, says Stephanie L. Douma, a researcher with Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa, who conducted the work independently. Details will be published in the February 2006 issue of Advances in Nursing Science.