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B. Estrogen's Role As An Anti-Depressant

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers working with post-menopausal women who were depressed, found those taking estrogen replacement therapy responded more to anti-depressant medication than those who were not taking the hormone. Dr. Gary Small, director of UCLA's Center on Aging, says these findings suggest estrogen somehow prepares the brain to respond to medication.

Small: We don't know exactly what estrogen is doing when it augments anti-depressant response but we do know that it has a lot of different effects on the brain and one of the likely effects to be implicated with depression is it's effect on serotonin function.

Narrator: And depression in large part, Small says, is a state of serotonin deficiency.

Small: And if estrogen modulates that effect, it's possible that adequate estrogen in the brain is needed in order to have an adequate anti-depressant effect.

Narrator: These findings are also consistent with other studies suggesting estrogen by itself has an anti-depressant response. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.