Can estrogen help treat women with schizophrenia?

Findings of a systematic literature review conducted at the University of Maryland in Baltimore show that addition of estrogen reduced schizophrenia symptoms in women with schizophrenia in a dose-dependent, and statistically significant, manner compared with stand-alone antipsychotic treatment.

According to the findings presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), young women typically develop symptoms 3 to 4 years later than their male counterparts. Also, symptoms in women can develop at times of hormonal change, including during the postpartum or postmenopausal periods.

Schizophrenia affects about 1% of the population. Evidence has shown that although the prevalence of schizophrenia is similar in men and women, the presentation differs.

Overall the levels of estrogen are typically lower in women with schizophrenia than their counterparts without the disorder. Estrogen enhances dopamine antagonists in animal models and may serve as a “natural antipsychotic agent”. It may also have a protective role in neuronal injury by promoting neurogenesis and re-myelination.

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