The role of estrogen in bipolar disorder, a review

Nord J Psychiatry. 2014 Feb;68(2):81-7. doi: 10.3109/08039488.2013.775341. Epub 2013 Mar 19.


Background: It appears that the female reproductive events and hormonal treatments may impact the course of bipolar disorder in women. In particular, childbirth is known to be associated with onset of affective episodes in women with bipolar disorder. During the female reproductive events the sex hormones, e.g. estrogen, are fluctuating and particularly postpartum there is a steep fall in the levels of serum estrogen. The role of estrogen in women with bipolar disorder is, however, not fully understood.

Aim: The main objective of this review is to evaluate the possible relation between serum estrogen levels and women with bipolar disorder including studies of the anti manic effects of the selective estrogen receptor modulator tamoxifen.

Method: A systematically literature search on PubMed was conducted: two studies regarding the connection between serum estrogen levels and women with bipolar disorder were identified. Furthermore, four studies were found concerning the antimanic effects of tamoxifen.

Results: Both studies in the estrogen studies showed very low levels of estrogen in women with postpartum psychosis and significant improvement of symptoms after treatment with estrogen. The four tamoxifen studies found that tamoxifen was effective in producing antimanic effects.

Conclusion: These results indicate that estrogen fluctuations may be an important factor in the etiology of bipolar disorder and it is obvious that more research on this topic is needed to clarify the role of estrogen in women with bipolar disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antimanic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Puerperal Disorders
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use


  • Antimanic Agents
  • Estrogens
  • Tamoxifen