The role of estrogen in mood disorders in women

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2003 Aug;15(3):280-90. doi: 10.1080/0954026031000136893.


Major depression is twice as common in women as men and depressive episodes appear to be more common in women with bipolar disorder. There is accumulating evidence that, in at least some women, reproductive-related hormonal changes may play a role in increasing the risk of depressive symptoms premenstrually, postpartum and in the perimenopausal period. In this review, the evidence for the role of hormonal fluctuations, specifically estrogen, in triggering depressive symptoms in a subgroup of women is summarized. In addition, the potential role of estrogen in triggering depressive symptoms via its effects on the serotonergic system, brain-derived neurotrophic factor and Protein Kinase C is reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Depression, Postpartum / drug therapy
  • Estrogens / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mood Disorders / metabolism*
  • Mood Disorders / psychology*
  • Serotonin / metabolism


  • Estrogens
  • Serotonin