Swati Jha, B.Optom

Fellow Optometrist, Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, New Delhi


Hormones play a vital role in maintaining woman’s health. Estrogen and progesterone are commonly known to influence a woman’s reproductive cycle but the production and secretion of these hormones play a significant role in altering the body weight, causing mood swings and ultimately leading to depression. Women are at a higher risk for depression than men as they attend puberty before men, therefore the constant physical and emotional fluctuations leads to clinical depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts can occur.

‘Estradiol’ is one of the types of estrogen that helps to regulate metabolism and body weight. The level of estradiol decreases during menopause or during an irregular menstrual cycle that is common among teenage girls and this decrease in the level of estradiol leads to weight gain1. After attending puberty when a girl takes step towards teenage life, there is an increasing demand of gaining popularity, coping with career pressure while dealing with biophysiological changes. This mechanism ultimately changes the lifestyle of the person which have shown to influence neurochemical pathway which is linked to depression2.

Research shows many women experience depression during pregnancy because of anxiety, low self-esteem, poor adherence, weight gain and unintended pregnancy due to biological changes3.Women with mutations in the endocrine pathway live shorter lives and is prone to more age related disease than those without such mutations. So a vital relationship is established between oestrogen axis and aging4. Studies have shown that menopause phase and change in hormonal status throughout reproductive cycle is associated with depressed mood among women with no clinical history of depression. Like other illnesses, mental illness also has a cure. Starting from meditation to hormonal therapy, many studies has been identify the optimal treatment of depression. Here discuss some of the main treatment modalities :-

  • Medication: The presence of ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone in contraceptive pills are found to be helpful for eliminating depressive symptoms in women with the premenstrual disorder5.
  • Fasting condition: Study shows calorie restriction releases orexin, which work as an antidepressant therapy6.
  • Serotonin: Many drugs inhibiting serotonin is commonly used for the treatment of depression as an increase in extracellular serotonin showing relative success in treating depression7.
  • Gut bacteria: Many gut bacteria can make substances that affect our nerve cell function and mood as shown by several studies done on rodents. Vagus nerve links the gut to the brain, therefore the resolution of gut microbe-brain connection can act as therapy for depression8,9.
  • Meditation: It helps to cope with depression by training the brain to improve emotional wellbeing and to live in the present moment10.

So, we can conclude by saying that endocrine changes throughout a woman’s life have been directly linked to increased risk for depression. Nowadays, depression in women due to biological changes is a worldwide concern. Although, there are treatments available, however, primarily it can be treated by talking out about the depression, support from peer group and by love and care.



  1. Davis, S.R., Castelo-Branco, C., Chedraui, P., Lumsden, M.A., Nappi, R.E., Shah, D., Villaseca, P. and Writing Group of the International Menopause Society for World Menopause Day 2012, 2012. Understanding weight gain at menopause. Climacteric, 15(5), pp.419-429.
  2. Thapar, A., Collishaw, S., Pine, D. S., & Thapar, A. K. (2012). Depression in adolescence. The Lancet379(9820), 1056-1067.
  3. Marcus, S. M. (2009). Depression during pregnancy: rates, risks and consequences. Journal of Population Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology16(1).
  4. Branna, D. W., & Maheshb, V. B. (2005). The aging reproductive neuroendocrine axis. Steroids70(4), 273-283.
  5. De Berardis, D., Serroni, N., Salerno, R. M., & Ferro, F. M. (2007). Treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) with a novel formulation of drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Therapeutics and clinical risk management3(4), 585.
  6. Lutter, M., Krishnan, V., Russo, S. J., Jung, S., McClung, C. A., & Nestler, E. J. (2008). Orexin signaling mediates the antidepressant-like effect of calorie restriction. Journal of Neuroscience28(12), 3071-3075.
  7. Carr, G. V., Schechter, L. E., & Lucki, I. (2011). Antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of selective 5-HT 6 receptor agonists in rats. Psychopharmacology213(2-3), 499-507.
  8. Pennisi, E. (2019). Gut bacteria linked to mental well-being and depression.