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Minerva Ginecologica 2009 December;61(6):541-62

Copyright © 2009 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Steroids, reproductive endocrine function, and affect. A review

Frye C. A. 1-4

1 Departments of Psychology, University of Albany-SUNY, Albany, NY, USA; 2 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Albany-SUNY, Albany, NY, USA; 3 Centers for Life Sciences, University of Albany-SUNY, Albany, NY, USA; 4 Neuroscience Research, University of Albany-SUNY, Albany, NY, USA


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Although the effects of estrogen (E2) on mood have been studied for some time, there is controversy over the utility of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Administration of E2 and/or other steroid hormones (e.g., progestogens, androgens, etc.) may be able to reduce increased anxiety and depression that is present with the onset of menopause. However, some studies indicate that E2 replacement does not significantly improve anxiety and/or depressive symptoms in all postmenopausal subjects. More recent data suggests that the efficacy of HRT could be based on a number of factors, including variety of E2-replacements available, the timing during or after menopause when HRT is initiated, and/or effects of other steroid hormones, such as progestogens and androgens. Notably, little attention has been paid to the possible synergistic effects of E2 that may require progestogens and/or androgens to produce positive outcomes in mood. Additionally, steroid hormones have a number of effects that influence anxiety and depression across the lifespan. As such, dose, timing, and combination of steroid replacement may explain these differences in behavioral outcome. With the increasing peri- to postmenopausal population, many women can expect to live nearly half their lifetime in a postmenopausal state. Therefore, examining these ambiguous findings is of critical importance. This review will focus on a synthesis of the available information regarding findings from animal and human studies in terms of effects of steroid hormones across the lifespan, different HRT options and their subsequent interactions in the brain and/or the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and effects on anxiety and depression.

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