Jennifer Gordon

Canada Research Chair in the Biopsychosocial Determinants of Women's Mental Health

Tier 2 - 2018-01-07
University of Regina
Canadian Institutes of Health Research


Research involves

Examining the link between hormones and mood in women.

Research relevance

This research will improve our understanding of how depression develops in women, so we can better prevent and treat it.

When Nature Meets Nurture: How Hormones and Environment Contribute to Depression in Women

In cultures around the world, women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression in their lifetime. Depressive disorders triggered by reproductive events—including the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the postpartum period and the menopause transition—likely account for an important proportion of this increased risk.

At the same time, psychosocial factors, such as stressful life events, lack of social support and trauma history, are also important predictors of depression risk in women, including during reproductive events. As a result, when trying to understand how reproductive mood disorders develop, it’s important to consider both the hormonal environment and the psychosocial environment to which a woman is exposed. This is the aim of research by Dr. Jennifer Gordon, Canada Research Chair in the Biopsychosocial Determinants of Women’s Mental Health.

Although each reproductive mood disorder—from premenstrual dysphoric disorder to perinatal depression and perimenopausal depression—has unique features, it is believed they all share common underlying processes that relate to increased sensitivity to changes in reproductive hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone. But these processes are not well understood. Gordon and her research team are working to shed light on how hormones and the psychosocial environment interact to influence mood in the context of reproductive events, such as childbirth and the transition to menopause.

Ultimately, their research will help us to better predict, prevent and treat depression across the female lifespan.