Susanne Stickel published her review article – Neural correlates of depression in women across the reproductive lifespan – An fMRI review


Depressive disorders in women emerge largely during transitions in their reproductive aging cycle, which can be attributed to internal endocrine possesses that affect emotion-associated brain circuits. A review was performed to outline the neural basis in depression during female puberty, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), postpartum depression disorder (PPD) and perimenopausal depression disorder.

For this review, Web of science, Pubmed and PsychInfo databases were searched for functional brain imaging studies addressing reproductive cycle-related mood disorder. The results are summarized and discussed within a broader theoretical framework of major depression disorder (MDD) to determine how reproductive-sensitive phases contribute to affective symptoms and how they relate to the neurobiology of MDD.

Neural activation patterns of all depressive disorders related to female reproductive cycle, except for puberty depression, differ from these observed in MDD. While the PMDD results are widely divergent, the activation patterns in PPD show general hypoactivation in all respects.

Systematic comparisons between the diverse depression disorders are impeded by the heterogeneous experimental protocols used on different samples, reproductive aging stages and depression types.

Given that hormonal fluctuations strongly influence the development of a reproductive cycle-related depression, it is possible that the hormonal and neural patterns are indicative of distinct mood disorder with phase specific biotypes, that only show behavioral similarities to MDD. Understanding the similarities and differences in the neural functioning of female cycle-related mood disorders evaluated against MDD might help elucidate the role of neuroendocrine involvement in development of depression in women, and potentially facilitate the search for prevention and treatment approaches for women’ reproductive-related depressions.

Congratulations Susanne