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Depression in Women

Women suffer more often from depression than men, and abnormal levels of their hormones are often the cause. There is data to show that low levels of the thyroid hormone, called T3, can cause depression. Any woman who receives thyroid hormone for having low thyroid function and is depressed should be given two thyroid hormones, not one. She should be started on both T3 and T4 (see my report on T3 Thyroid Hormone to Treat Depression).

There is good data to show that women with low as well as high blood levels of the male hormone, testosterone, also are at increased risk for depression. One recent study shows that women who have blood levels of free testosterone below 0.4mg/ml are at high risk for depression, as well as osteoporosis, lack of interest in making love, pain on intercourse, and an increase in total body fat. Like men, women suffer a progressive lowering of their blood levels of testosterone with a drop by 50 percent from age 20 to menopause at age 52. After menopause, a woman's levels of testosterone remain fairly constant over the years. Within 24 hours of having her ovaries removed, a woman's blood levels of testosterone drop by more than 70 percent. Just taking birth control pills markedly lower a woman's blood levels of testosterone because the estrogen in birth control pills shuts down the brain that produces FSH the hormone that causes the ovaries to produce testosterone.

High levels of testosterone also increase a woman's risk for depression. Women who have high levels of male hormones also often have excess hair on their faces and bodies, acne, loss of hair on the top of their heads, lots of fat in their bellies, and cysts on their ovaries. These women also are at increased risk for being very aggressive. Higher male hormone levels are seen in women before and after giving birth, and may be responsible for post-partum depression. It has also been reported that depression in girls before they reach puberty and start menstruating is associated with an increase in male hormones.

Testosterone replacement therapy in women with low blood levels of that hormone, has been reported to protect them from getting fat. If you are a woman who suffers from depression, ask your doctor to draw blood levels of thyroid hormones called T3, T4 and TSH; and male hormones called testosterone and DHEAS. If your thyroid hormones are abnormal, you should be taking both thyroid hormones called T3 and T4. If your testosterone level is low, you may need that hormone. If it is too high, you probably have polycystic ovary syndrome; you need to restrict bakery products, pastas, and sugar and probably take Glucophage (metformin) to lower blood sugar levels. If your testosterone is low, you may need testosterone replacement.

The impact of testosterone imbalance on depression and women's health. Maturitas, 2002, Vol 41, Suppl. 1, pp S25-S46. UD Rohr. Rohr UD, Univ Hosp, Dept Gynecol & Obstet Gynecol Oncol, Hufelandstr 55, D-45122 Essen, GERMANY. 2) Relations of androgens and selected aspects of human behavior. Maturitas, 2002, Vol 41, Suppl. 1, pp S47-S54. JHH Thijssen. Univ Utrecht, Med Ctr, HP KE-03-139-2, POB 85090, NL-3508 AB Utrecht, NETHERLANDS

Checked 9/2/18

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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