Elevated levels of a specific brain protein may explain why so many women experience depression during perimenopause, according to a new study. High levels of a chemical called monoamine oxidase A, or MAO-A, may be to blame, the paper concludes.
The protein is known to break down other brain chemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine which help to maintain normal mood.
Rates of depression in women in perimenopause are unusually high. Previous studies have suggested that first-time depressions in women in this period of life reach 16 to 17% and a similar percentage of women develop milder depressive symptoms.
Rates of depression in women in perimenopause — the period leading up to menopause, roughly between 41 and 51 years of age — are unusually high. He says he got the idea to study the potential role of MAO-A in perimenopause depression because of clinical work he does at the centre. And that too is associated with high levels of MAO-A in the prefrontal cortex, the front of the brain.