Neuroactive Steroids and Perinatal Depression: a Review of Recent Literature

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11 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: The purpose of this review is to provide a theoretical explanation and a review of the recent literature concerning the role of neuroactive steroids in perinatal depression, and to use this information to suggest future directions of research. Recent Findings: The bulk of the evidence on neuroactive steroids in perinatal depression concerns allopregnanolone. Recent studies have been mixed, with some studies finding a direct correlation between lower levels of allopregnanolone and increased depressive symptoms but other studies finding no relationship. Evidence concerning other neuroactive steroids and perinatal depression is sparse. Summary: Additional research is needed with larger sample sizes and better characterization across the perinatal period (rather than cross-sectionally). Because some studies point to a lag between neuroactive steroid dysregulation and subsequent symptoms, future research should consider interactions with other aspects of neuroactive steroid physiology, such as synthetic enzymes or receptor plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number78
JournalCurrent psychiatry reports
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Allopregnanolone
  • Neuroactive steroids
  • Neurosteroids
  • Perinatal depression
  • Postpartum depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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