Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most common psychiatric disorders, affecting a high percentage of human beings around the world. This emotional disorder possesses marked gender differences and occurs more often in women than in men, in a proportion of 2:1. Accompanying the reproductive cycle of women are significant fluctuations in plasma and brain steroid hormone concentrations, including oestradiol, progesterone, and allopregnanolone, among others. These hormonal changes are related to some illnesses and with the development of anxiety and mood swings occurring in the premenstrual and postpartum period, and particularly during the menopause. Menopause is a clinical term used to indicate the cessation of the woman's reproductive ability that occurs naturally, but also may be surgically induced by bilateral oophorectomy, with or without the removal of the Fallopian tubes and uterus. Natural menopause includes specific periods related to the physiological and hormonal changes produced by ovarian failure, it is usually a natural stage that occurs to women in midlife, during their late 40s or early 50s, indicating the end of the reproductive period in the woman. During the menopause transition years, women experience changes in the production of ovarian hormones, which are associated with significant changes in the physiological, emotional, and affective processes. Unfortunately, surgical menopause occurs at an early age, and produces similar physiological and psychiatric disorders, but they are more severe in this instance. In both cases, typical symptoms associated with menopause critically deteriorate the mental health of the women. In this way, the therapeutic management of clinical symptoms of menopause include replacement hormone therapy, the use of anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs, and other natural alternatives based on the use of chemical compounds obtained from plants such as soya. However, a general effective treatment for menopause symptoms does not yet exist. For this reason, experimental studies have proposed ovariectomy in rats as a potential tool to study the effects of a long-term absence of ovarian hormones associated with surgical menopause, which also allowed the study of substances with potential therapeutic application to ameliorate typical symptoms associated with surgical menopause. The aim of this chapter is to review the participation of ovarian hormones in the regulation of emotional and affective disorders in women with natural or surgical menopause; particularly their anatomical pathways, neurotransmission systems, and the resulting behavioural patterns. Finally, preclinical and clinical research suggested that long-term absence of ovarian hormones associated with natural or surgical menopause is the principal cause of physiological and psychiatric disorder in the women; therefore, oestrogenic compounds seem to play an important role in the maintenance of the brain structures that regulate anxiety, mood, memory, and cognitive functions in menopausal women.
Part of the book: A Fresh Look at Anxiety Disorders
Although menopause is a phenomenon predominantly studied in humans or laboratory animals, this chapter discussed the case of nonhuman primates (NHPs), not only with the objective of employing them as study models but also to better understand phylogenetic divergence among species. Those taxonomic differences are reflected in reproductive processes that may be similar to those of human beings, with the presence of a defined cycle or periods of estrus, but perhaps at different ages as well, where menopause plays a crucial role. First, it is important to delimit the concept of menopause by considering its anatomical, physiological, and biochemical parameters, including the cessation of menstrual bleeding or perineal swelling—when present—or follicular depletion and hormonal changes. Thus, the aim of this chapter is to discuss some of the similarities between NHPs and human females, during the menopause period. Studying these phenomena should help us achieve a better understanding of the social, physiological, and environmental factors without adopting any particular cultural view of menopause.
Part of the book: Menopause
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by the activation of degenerative and inflammatory processes in brain circuits that control movement and, according to the degree of progression of the damage, can cause neuropsychological disorders such as cognitive dysfunction. Changes in gene expression profile or post-translational modifications in secretory proteins such as neurotrophic factors could define the disease progression. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is relevant, because it not only participates in neuronal survival, neurotransmission, dendritic growth and cellular communication but also in disease progression. In this chapter, considering both experimental evidences and clinical reports, the authors will analyze the contribution of BDNF as one of the causes of neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation; discuss the participation of this neurotrophic factor in the development of cognitive dysfunction, and finally the scope of novel BDNF-based therapies for PD.
Part of the book: Parkinson's Disease and Beyond