Low levels of progesterone, estrogen and depression
Learning Center » Depression
Depression and Your Hormones
"Evidence shows that depression relates directly to a woman's hormone levels ... Low levels of estrogen or progesterone can be major contributors."
Modern epidemiology, the study of health and illness, confirms that depression is more common in women than in men. Whether we look at hospital admissions, population studies, suicide attempts or prescription of antidepressants, women top men in nearly every category. Evidence shows that depression relates directly to a woman's hormone levels.
Peaks of depression occur at times of hormonal fluctuation in: 1) the premenstrual phase, 2) the postpartum phase, and 3) the climacteric perimenopausal phase, particularly in the one or two years before the periods cease.
Low levels of estrogen or progesterone can be major contributors to depression. For example, during pregnancy, progesterone levels skyrocket causing some women to report that their lupus or rheumatoid arthritis temporarily subsides. This is due to increased levels of progesterone. Conversely, a woman's progesterone levels decrease naturally after she gives birth to a baby. Excessive drops in progesterone cause postpartum depression or the "baby blues."
In 2004, we kept track of the number of women who came to our Center and were taking antidepressant medication. An astounding 71% of the women were taking Prozac, Wellbutrin, Lexapro or Celexa despite the fact that the majority only felt tired and not depressed. In the majority of cases, the women felt their physician prescribed the medication because they were unable to identify any other issues.