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Science News About Women’s Mental Health

Estrogen Alters Memory Circuit Function in Women with Gene Variant

Science Update

Brain scans reveal that fluctuations in estrogen can trigger atypical functioning in a key brain memory circuit in women with a common version of a gene. Since working memory function is often disturbed in mental disorders, such gene-hormone interactions are suspect mechanisms that may confer risk.

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Higher Death Rate Among Youth with First Episode Psychosis

Press Release

A new study shows that young people with first episode psychosis have a much higher death rate than previously thought. Researchers looked at people aged 16-30 and found that the group died at a rate at least 24 times greater than the same age group in the general population.

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Sex Hormone–Sensitive Gene Complex Linked to Premenstrual Mood Disorder

Press Release

Researchers have discovered molecular mechanisms that may underlie a woman’s susceptibility to disabling irritability, sadness, and anxiety in the days leading up to her menstrual period.

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Adding Better Mental Health Care to Primary Care

Science Update

Medicare’s new policy supports Collaborative Care and could improve the lives of millions of people with behavioral health conditions.

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Soldiers at Increased Suicide Risk after Leaving Hospital

Press Release

Soldiers hospitalized with a psychiatric disorder have a higher suicide risk in the year following discharge from the hospital.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Postpartum Depression

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Postpartum Depression

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Bundling HIV Prevention with Prenatal Care Reduces Risky Sex Behaviors Among At-risk Mothers

Science Update

An HIV-prevention program targeted at women receiving prenatal care may effectively reduce risks for HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unplanned future pregnancies, according to NIMH-funded researchers. Bundling such interventions into existing health care models, like prenatal care, also may be more accessible to those who may not have the time, interest, or resources to attend a stand-alone HIV prevention program. Changing the way prenatal care is provided also may create sustainable advantages in reproductive health for all at-risk women. The study was published in the November 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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NIH Encourages Depressed Moms to Seek Treatment for Themselves

Science Update

Numerous studies have suggested that depression runs in families. Children of depressed parents are 2–3 times as likely to develop depression as compared to children who do not have a family history of the disorder. Other studies have shown that remission of depression in mothers is associated with improvements in psychiatric symptoms in their children. Despite all signs encouraging mothers to prioritize their own mental health, many suffer from untreated depression while managing treatment for their children’s emotional or behavioral problems.

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Premature Birth Risk Higher for Pregnant Women Taking SSRIs or Suffering from Untreated Depression

Science Update

Untreated major depression, as well as the use of antidepressant medications, may increase the risk for premature (preterm) birth, but the risk of other problems in fetuses such as breathing, gastrointestinal, or motor problems, may not be increased, according to a study of pregnant women published online ahead of print March 15, 2009, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Brain Awareness Week Teaches Kids How Their Brains Work

Press Release

The 10th annual Brain Awareness Week (BAW), a science and health education fair held in various locations across the United States, teaches fifth through eighth grade students about the brain. In Washington, D.C., it will take place March 16-20, 2009, at the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Several institutes from the National Institutes of Health will provide interactive exhibits and lectures focusing on brain health and neuroscience on March 18th and 19th.

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Impaired Brain Activity Underlies Impulsive Behaviors in Women with Bulimia

Science Update

Women with bulimia nervosa (BN), when compared with healthy women, showed different patterns of brain activity while doing a task that required self-regulation. This abnormality may underlie binge eating and other impulsive behaviors that occur with the eating disorder, according to an article published in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Mechanism for Postpartum Depression Found in Mice

Press Release

Researchers have pinpointed a mechanism in the brains of mice that could explain why some human mothers become depressed following childbirth.

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Depression Linked to Bone-Thinning in Premenopausal Women

Press Release

Premenopausal women with even mild depression have less bone mass than do their nondepressed peers, a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), shows.

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Depression Risk Higher in Girls with Low Birth Weight

Science Update

Girls’ risk for developing depression after puberty increased significantly if they had low birth weight, in a study funded in part by NIMH. Yet low birth weight didn’t appear to be just one more risk factor for depression. Rather, it seemed to increase the risk effects of other adversities.

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Brain’s Reward Circuit Activity Ebbs and Flows with a Woman’s Hormonal Cycle

Press Release

Fluctuations in sex hormone levels during women’s menstrual cycles affect the responsiveness of their brains’ reward circuitry, an imaging study at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has revealed.

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