Jennifer Gordon, PhD

Department of Psychology, University of Regina

HPA axis dysregulation in the etiology of perimenopausal depression

Women are 2-4 times more likely to develop depression during perimenopause, the menopause transition phase, than at any other time in their lives. Dr Gordon proposes that increased estrogen fluctuation during this phase may trigger dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the body’s central stress response system, causing women to be more susceptible to depression.

Jennifer Gordon, PhD
Jennifer Gordon, PhD, recipient of a 2017 Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award

The proposed study will test this hypothesis, enrolling 100 perimenopausal women who will undergo two study phases: Phase I (lasting 12 weeks), during which participants will, once weekly, monitor their mood and collect urine and saliva samples to allow for hormonal measurements, and Phase II (lasting 9 months), during which they will complete a monthly mental health survey. These methods will allow Dr Gordon’s group to examine whether HPA-axis sensitivity to estradiol fluctuation in Phase I predicts risk for depression in Phase II.