There's a difference between clinical depression and hormonal depression. In hormonal depression, usually, anxiety, low mood and mood swings occur before a woman's menses and progressively get worse as menopause approaches.
Many women on antidepressants recall a life event that triggered depression and or anxiety. But some have no life triggers. Looking back, dips in mood may have been cyclical, i.e worse at certain times of the month, usually, this is premenstrual.
Estrogen plays a complex role in influencing neurotransmitters in the brain. It can impact neurotransmitter synthesis, release, and receptor sensitivity. Estrogen receptors are found throughout the brain, and its effects can vary depending on factors such as the specific brain region and the stage of the menstrual cycle.
Estrogen can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are involved in mood regulation, reward, and cognition.
For example, estrogen can enhance the activity of serotonin, which is often associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. It can also influence the density and functioning of dopamine receptors, which are linked to motivation and pleasure.
Changes in estrogen levels, such as those experienced during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, can lead to fluctuations in neurotransmitter activity. This may contribute to mood changes, cognitive shifts, and emotional responses that some individuals experience during these times.