During the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and breast-feeding periods, as well as in menopausal and post-menopausal periods, the physiological and psychological processes that change according to the hormonal fluctuations influence every women similarly and each one differently. These physiological processes are controlled by neuroendocrine sequences, of which the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis and the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis are the most important ones. The hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis affects mood, anxiety, cognition and pain. The interaction of these hormones with mood and behavior is bidirectional. The differences in phenomenology and epidemiology of mood disorders with regards to gender can be explained with the effects of hormones. All of the periods mentioned above are related with mood disorders at terms of risk factors, disease symptoms, progress of disease and response to treatment. Epidemiologic data supports the relationship between the mood disorders and reproductive processes. The prevalence of major depression increases in women with the menarche and ceases in post- menopausal period. Similarly, the initial symptoms of bipolar disorder begins around the menarche period in 50% of the cases. Despite proper treatment, some female patients with major depression experience recurrence during the premenstrual period of their menstrual cycles. The conformity and change in a woman’s brain during pregnancy is controlled dominantly by the neuroendocrine systems, while it is controlled by the external stimuli actively related to the baby during nursing period. The changes that occur are closely related to postpartum mood disorders. Again, all the changes and suspension of medication during this procedure are risk factors for early depressive and dysphoric situations. Variables of a wide range, from follicle stimulating hormone, melatonin, and sleep to body mass index interact with mood disorders in menopausal and post-menopausal periods. Interest on the effects of gonadal steroids on the central nervous system has grown parallel with our increasing knowledge. In the last decade, the place of hormonal treatments in the treatment of mood disorders have been discussed continously. During this period, along with the anti-depressant efficacy of estrogen, anti-manic efficacy of tamoxifen was also demonstrated in several studies. In this paper, the complex relationship between the physiological changes and the mood disorders during a menstrual cycle, pregnancy, nursing, menopausal and post-menopausal periods are briefly reviewed and discussed over the reproductive hormones in the context of etiology, phenomenology and treatment.
Reproduction, Hormones, Mood Disorders, Postpartum