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Katarina Wilk

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Perimenobrain

Insomnia, hot flushes and mood swings. While in perimenopause your body feels like it’s under attack. But did you know that everything seems to start in the brain? Hormonal fluctuations and lack of oestrogen affects the brain more than we understand.

While discussions about the importance of oestrogen in the brain are starting around the world,  it is still considered a taboo subject. In Sweden it’s hard to even get an interview with a doctor/researcher about it.

Maybe it is still too controversial saying that the female brain is different from the male brain. We struggle for gender equality and if we acknowledge the difference it might be a step back? But I think it’s time to see it for what it is – when looked at from a medical point of view there seem tome studies point out that depression seem to be related to hormonal disturbances for women throughout their whole life, for example PMS, postpartum depression and perimenopausal depression.

During perimenopause your oestrogen goes haywire, and affects the neurotransmitters in the brain that seem to have an important role in developing depression. During puberty and pregnancy/childbirth the same issue with oestrogen arises. One might say that the risk for depression is stronger during times when your hormones are more volatile. When I discovered this in my research my mind was overwhelmed:

1) The number of boys and girls getting depression is actually the same until they become 11-13 years, (read prepuberty). Beyond that age mental illness seems to increase for girls.

2) Pregnancy and childbirth increases the risks for depression. Some women even get postpartum psychosis, which clearly has something to do with the brain.

3) Even though suicuide is more common if you are a man, it increases in women after 45, which means before menopause, while in perimenopause.

There are three really important phases in a woman’s life – Puberty, Pregnancy and Perimenopause. And yet we won’t acknowledge that a female brain is different from a male brain. I think we need to start the conversation about gender medicine. We shouldn’t hide these differences any more so I have decided that my coming posts will be about the brain. There are studies showing that a lack of oestrogen might make you more prone to Alzheimers. And there are even some connections between a lack of oestrogen and Schizophrenia. I have done a lot of research on this topic and will continue to talk about the female brain. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.

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