Women and depression

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Chapter 10 endnote 33, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

if you’re a woman of reproductive age, the connectivity within your interoceptive network changes throughout the month, leaving you more vulnerable, at certain points in your cycle, to unpleasant affect, rumination, and perhaps even increased risk of mood disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. [...] Risk is greatest with high levels of the ovarian hormone progesterone. This might help explain why the proportion of women suffering from mood disorders is so much higher than the proportion of men.

This vulnerability is evident in women who have artificially-manipulated ovarian hormone levels. A recent study of over 1 million adolescents and women between the ages of 15 and 34 years old in Denmark revealed that women taking oral contraceptives had 1.23 times the rate of depression of those who were not currently taking oral contraceptives. This rate was slightly higher (1.34) for women taking progesterone-only pills, and even higher for adolescent girls (1.8 and 2.2). Bottom line: taking ovarian hormones increases your likelihood of developing depression.[1]


Notes on the Notes

  1. Skovlund, Charlotte Wessel, Lina Steinrud Mørch, Lars Vedel Kessing, and Øjvind Lidegaard. 2016. "Association of hormonal contraception with depression." JAMA Psychiatry 73 (11): 1154-1162.