Depression in Women: The Causes & Solutions

by Mia Lundin on December 14, 2011

During the different hormone phases of life, women often experience dips and changes in their mood.

During times of PMS, just prior to the onset of their period, for example, women often complain of feeling irritable, angry, and edgy, juxtaposed with feelings of sadness, weepiness, and depression.

On the other hand, when a woman is going through perimenopause and her hormones are fluctuating wildly, she may experience severe mood swings with intense rages and debilitating bouts of depression.

Even during menopause, when women expect to be free of the nuisance of their monthly period and bothersome symptoms of perimenopause, they may still suffer with energy draining depression that takes the color out of their world.

Unfortunately, it is a medical fact that women are diagnosed with depression at a rate of 2:1 over men. While physicians, neurobiologists, and the mental health community continue to debate the actual causes of depression in women, I believe the culprit is often the biochemical changes and chemical imbalances that can result from hormone imbalance.

The Role of Brain Chemistry in Depression

In order for you to feel well emotionally it is important that your brain chemistry is in balance.  The neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and dopamine, are the brain’s chemical messengers which are primarily responsible for your mental health and well-being. When these important brain chemicals are out of balance, depression, and many other symptoms, can result.

There are many causes of brain chemistry imbalance.  For women, it is often the result of shifting hormones.  Estrogen fluctuations, for example, can cause serotonin to drop to low levels, which can severely affect mood.  This also helps explain why so many women suffer from depression during perimenopause and menopause.  The key to our feelings of happiness, serotonin plays a huge role in helping to defend against anxiety and depression.

But, it’s not just an imbalance in serotonin that contributes to depression. Dopamine and norepinephrine, serotonin’s counter-parts, also play a strong role in mood regulation as well. Associated with pleasure, dopamine levels rise when we engage in pleasurable activities such as sex, eating, or listening to music.  On the other hand, when dopamine levels are low, we may feel fatigued, sad, withdrawn, and depressed.  Likewise with norepinephrine.

Elevated during times of stress, norepinephrine is the most active when we are awake.  Norepineprhine helps us focus our attention, sharpens our awareness, and contributes to good memory function.  However, if norepinephrine levels are too low, we may feel apathetic, lacking in motivation and energy, experience poor memory function, and yes, also depression.

How Should We Treat Depression?

One of the best places to begin when dealing with chemical imbalance in the brain and depression is to understand the tandem role of estrogen and serotonin.   A natural brain booster and anti-depressant, estrogen plays an enormous role in the production of and maintenance of serotonin in our brain.

Estrogen and serotonin work in concert with each other.  When estrogen levels drop, so do serotonin levels, which can cause us to feel irritable, cranky, anxious, and depressed.  Conversely, when estrogen levels rise, so do serotonin levels, which improves our mood and restores a sense of calm and happiness.

Introducing the right amount of bioidentical hormones at the right time during a woman’s menstrual cycle will help rebalance her estrogen levels, and is a crucial step in helping combat depression.  Nutritional supplements, including amino acid therapy, are also necessary to help restore and rebalance the neurotransmitters serotonin, GABA, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Vitamins, such as the B-vitamins, are essential to mental and emotional health.  Essential fatty acids, minerals, and a diet rich in healthy proteins and complex carbohydrates is also necessary to support good brain function, which in turn, leads to balanced brain chemistry.

To learn more about how balanced brain chemistry contributes to mood regulation and depression, read my book The Female Brain Gone Insane. Also be sure to check out my Basic Supplement Plan , an excellent foundation of nutritional supplements to help balance your brain chemistry and put you on the road to optimal health!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Smita January 2, 2012 at 9:29 am

Just I turned 25 age, last 12 months i had always regular periods but since three months I am experienced late periods, and also realizing some symptoms of depression. I unable to find out real cause of depression. Can discuss with doctor about my matter

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