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The Importance of Estrogen in Female Depression


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Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression than their male counterparts. This is indeed a startling fact, but it begs the question, why?

The answer may very well be estrogen, or the lack thereof in some women.

Every woman in life goes through perimenopause and then menopause, which is associated with a decline in estrogen. Even during the regular menstrual cycle, estrogen levels can be low, specifically in the luteal phase. Studies have demonstrated that this female sex hormone may have a significant influence on a very important neurotransmitter: serotonin.

Serotonin and Estrogen

Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter of the nervous system that helps maintain a sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being. When serotonin is low or not functioning properly, depression may result.

The influence estrogen has on serotonin is quite significant. Estrogen promotes the induction of tryptophan hydroxylase, which is a crucial enzyme that is needed for the synthesis of serotonin. Additionally, estrogen has a role in naturally preventing the reuptake of serotonin.

Estrogen has been shown to decrease serotonin reuptake transporter SERT mRNA expression (which is involved in the DNA replication and production of SERT) in an area of the brain called the raphe nuclei.

Thus, when estrogen is low due to perimenopause, menopause, or the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, it can result in low serotonin levels and function – which can contribute to feelings of depression.


When depression is present, in addition to testing for and supporting serotonin when low, consider identifying and addressing estrogen imbalance to further aid in the synthesis and function of serotonin.


Shors TJ, Leuner B. Estrogen-mediated effects on depression and memory formation in females. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2003;74(1):85-96.


Clinical Contributor

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Connie Shoemaker, ND

Connie Shoemaker, ND

“Educating Sanesco’s clients is the culmination of a life’s work.” Beginning when she left the hospital environment to manage a functional laboratory, Genova Diagnostics (formerly Great Smokies Laboratories) in 1987, Dr. Connie Shoemaker has continued to increase her knowledge of herbs and biochemistry as a journey of love. With her bachelor’s in science from Western Carolina University, she had worked in hospital laboratories for the first twelve years of her career. Then, personal health challenges led her to discover a new approach to her health and a determination to share it with others. In 1991, she began teaching and educating innovative practitioners in the U.S. and internationally as a manager of marketing, sales, and customer service.

The addition of her Doctor of Naturopathy degree to her existing knowledge base expanded her knowledge and her respect for a more natural approach to healing through balance. At Sanesco, she initially served to oversee technical development of products and services.

Now, she educates Sanesco’s clients on application of the CSM™ model for their specific patients and how to integrate the CSM™ model with other modalities they offer in their practice. In her personal life, Connie educates private clients on various health topics.

Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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