Estrogen relieves psychotic symptoms in women with schizophrenia

August 4, 2008

When combined with antipsychotic medications, the estrogen estradiol appears to be a useful treatment in women with schizophrenia, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

The link between estrogen and mental illness was recognized more than a century ago, according to background information in the article. However, scientific evidence regarding estrogen as a therapy for mental illness has only recently emerged. "Epidemiologic observations of sex differences in the onset and course of schizophrenia prompted exploration of estrogen's role in schizophrenia," the authors write.

Jayashri Kulkarni, M.B.B.S., M.P.M., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., Ph.D., of The Alfred and Monash University and The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind study involving 102 women of child-bearing age with schizophrenia. For 28 days, 56 women were randomly assigned to receive 100 micrograms of estradiol daily via a skin patch and 46 women received a placebo skin patch in addition to their regular medications. Psychotic symptoms, which include delusions and hallucinatory behavior, were assessed weekly with a commonly used scale.

The group of women taking estradiol exhibited a greater improvement in psychotic symptoms over time than did the women taking antipsychotic medications alone. They also experienced a decline in positive symptoms—those which represent a distortion of normal functions. No difference was observed between the two groups regarding negative symptoms, those which occur when normal functions are lost or diminished.

"Estrogen's neuroprotective and psychoprotective actions may be mediated by a variety of routes, ranging from rapid actions, including antioxidant effects and enhancement of cerebral blood flow and cerebral glucose utilization, to slower, genomic mechanisms, which may include permanent modification of neural circuits," the authors write. "The lack of effect for negative symptoms is consistent with literature reporting that negative symptoms are less responsive to treatment than other symptoms of schizophrenia. It is possible that longer-term treatment is required for negative symptoms to respond to treatment. Alternatively, brain regions implicated in negative symptoms may be less responsive to gonadal hormone effects."

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: Disordered eating among young adults found to have long-term negative health effects

Related Stories

Disordered eating among young adults found to have long-term negative health effects

November 21, 2017
According to a recent University of Helsinki study, disordered eating among young adults has long-term effects on their health. Disordered eating among 24-year-old women and men was an indicator of higher body weight, larger ...

MeToo no more?

December 4, 2017
(HealthDay)—From the hills of Hollywood to the halls of Congress, it's now clear that sexual harassment in the workplace has long been a fact of life for working women.

Living and aging well with HIV—new strategies and new research

November 30, 2017
A generation ago, a list of tips for aging well with AIDS would have seemed a cruel joke. It also would have not been useful. Life expectancy immediately following the identification of the virus in 1984 was often months ...

Most people in favour of screening for spinal muscular atrophy

December 5, 2017
Research from the University of Warwick indicates that most people are in favour of newborn screening for the potentially deadly condition spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The study Newborn genetic screening for spinal muscular ...

Research highlights women's positive approach to menopause

October 18, 2017
Women experience the menopause between the ages of around 45 and 55, but their experiences of this significant stage of life are diverse. Each woman's menopause is unique.

Pregnant women advised to be tested more than once for the presence of Zika

November 2, 2017
Molecular tests to identify Zika's genetic material in body fluids during the acute phase of infection have been used routinely in prenatal checkups for pregnant women with symptoms of the disease. Now, a new study conducted ...

Recommended for you

New cellular approach found to control progression of chronic kidney disease

December 15, 2017
Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that extracellular vesicles - tiny protein-filled structures - isolated from amniotic fluid stem cells (AFSCs) can be used to effectively slow the progression of kidney damage ...

Testing shows differences in efficacy of Zika vaccines after one year

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A large team of researchers with members from Harvard Medical School, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Bioqual Inc. and MIT has found that the efficacy of the three types of Zika vaccines currently ...

How to regulate fecal microbiota transplants

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A small team of researchers at the University of Maryland, some with affiliations to the Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System, has written and published a Policy Forum piece in the journal Science ...

Screening could catch a quarter of hip fractures before they happen

December 15, 2017
Community screening for osteoporosis could prevent more than a quarter of hip fractures in older women - according to new research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Urine test developed to test for tuberculosis

December 14, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has developed a urine test that can be used to detect tuberculosis (TB) in human patients. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

40 years after first Ebola outbreak, survivors show signs they can stave off new infection

December 14, 2017
Survivors of the first known Ebola outbreak, which occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, may be key to development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs to treat future outbreaks, according to a new study ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

sheber
not rated yet Aug 05, 2008
I thought it was just determined a few years ago that hormone replacement therapy was very bad for you. Now they're combining it with anti-psychotics?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.