Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders

About Mood Disorders

Mental disorders rank among the top ten illnesses causing disability—more than 37 percent worldwide— with depression being the leading cause of disability among people aged 15 and older. Depression is often chronic and severe, and nearly 40 percent of patients have their first episode before age 18.

Compared to men, women have twice the rate of depression. In fact, a striking 21 percent of women will have at least one episode of major depressive disorder in their lifetimes.  Contributing to the higher rate of depression in women are hormonal fluctuations that occur during reproductive milestones (e.g., first menstrual period (menarche), before menstrual cycles, and during pregnancy, postpartum and the perimenopause). The normal (but substantial) fluctuation in hormones increases the risk for physiological destabilization and depression in women with elevated central nervous system sensitivity. Depressive syndromes occur during the dramatic reproductive events of women’s lives, affecting their function and health.

The Asher Center seeks to better understand, diagnose, and treat the depressive disorders that affect women at these respective times in their life cycle. Learn more about the disorders we research via the links below.

Patient Care

Learn more about Feinberg-affiliated clinical resources via our Patient Care page.