Early-Onset Puberty Could Be the Source of Adult Depression in Some Women

“Quite frankly, I’ve been depressed for most of my life,” says Latoya Shauntay Snell, of Brooklyn, who started menstruating at the age of 9.

“The earliest time that I can recall being depressed was around 9 or 10 years old,” Snell continues, who is now 32 years old. “I was diagnosed with mild depression when I was 20 years old. Post-partum depression came about when I was 22. It graduated to seasonal depression in 2008 and moderate-level depression after the weight gain, around 2011.” Snell is now a freelance chef, a photographer and a blogger for Running Fat Chef.

Little did she know, scientists have linked early onset of menstruation to depression during the teenage years, for some time now. A new study out today in Pedaitrics, however, shows that these effects can last well into adulthood. This higher rate of depression was seen in girls who started menstruating at age 10, and was even higher for those who started at age 8.

While boys and girls experience depression at the same rates before puberty, after puberty, the ratio is 2-to-1 female-to-male, explains Dr. Erikka Dzirasa, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in private practice in Durham, N.C., which suggests that female sex hormones, such as estradiol, can contribute to the onset of depressive disorders.

“There are also some studies that suggest girls who reach