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An alternative theory for hormone effects on sex differences in PTSD: The role of heightened sex hormones during trauma


Ney, LJ and Gogos, A and Hsu, C-MK and Felmingham, KL, An alternative theory for hormone effects on sex differences in PTSD: The role of heightened sex hormones during trauma, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 109 pp. 1-12. ISSN 0306-4530 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd.

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DOI: doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.104416


Women are at least twice as susceptible to developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to men. Although most research seeking to explain this discrepancy has focussed on the role of oestradiol during fear extinction learning, the role of progesterone has been overlooked, despite relatively consistent findings being reported concerning the role of progesterone during consolidation of emotional and intrusive memories. In this review article, we outline literature supporting the role of progesterone on memory formation, with particular emphasis on potential memory-enhancing properties of progesterone when subjects are placed under stress. It is possible that progesterone directly and indirectly exerts memory-enhancing effects at the time of trauma, which is an effect that may not be necessarily captured during non-stressful paradigms. We propose a model whereby progesterone’s steroidogenic relationship to cortisol and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in combination with elevated oestradiol may enhance emotional memory consolidation during trauma and therefore present a specific vulnerability to PTSD formation in women, particularly during the mid-luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:sex differences, sex hormones, posttraumatic stress disorder, intrusive memories, trauma
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Behavioural neuroscience
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Ney, LJ (Mr Luke Ney)
UTAS Author:Hsu, C-MK (Mr Ken Hsu)
UTAS Author:Felmingham, KL (Professor Kim Felmingham)
ID Code:135839
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:23
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2019-11-17
Last Modified:2019-12-06

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