The effects of age and estrogen on stress responsivity in older women.

Dumas JA, Albert KM, Naylor MR, Sites CK, Benkelfat C, Newhouse PA
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2012 20 (9): 734-43

PMID: 22832417 · PMCID: PMC3428432 · DOI:10.1097/JGP.0b013e31825c0a14

OBJECTIVE - The current study examined whether age after menopause impacted the effect of estradiol (E2) on mood after a psychosocial stress manipulation.

BACKGROUND - Previous studies have shown that E2 improves mood in women around the menopause transition but does not improve mood for older postmenopausal women. We have previously shown that E2 treatment in nondepressed women resulted in increased negative mood after psychosocial stress.

DESIGN - Participants were 22 postmenopausal women placed on either oral placebo or 17β-estradiol (1 mg/day for 1 month, then 2 mg/day for 2 months).

METHOD - At the end of the 3-month treatment phase, the participants performed the Trier Social Stress Test followed by mood ratings. To examine the effects of age on the estrogen-stress interaction, we performed a median split on age and created four groups of participants: younger-placebo (mean age: 55.5 years), younger-E2 (mean age: 55.5 years), older-placebo (mean age: 73.0 years), and older-E2 (mean age: 76.8 years).

RESULTS - : The results showed that both older and younger E2-treated participants exhibited a significant and similar increase in negative mood after psychosocial stress compared with placebo-treated women.

CONCLUSIONS - These results suggest that E2 may play a significant role in modulating emotional reactivity to stressful events and that this effect persists in older women. Furthermore, responsivity to E2 effects on emotional processing appears to be intact even years after menopause in contrast with other cognitive and behavioral effects of E2, which may be limited to the early postmenopausal years.

MeSH Terms (12)

Affect Aged Aged, 80 and over Age Factors Estradiol Female Humans Middle Aged Postmenopause Psychiatric Status Rating Scales Psychological Tests Stress, Psychological

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