Australian scientists believe they have found a way to help women with treatment-resistant schizophrenia.
The key is oestrogen, says Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre in Melbourne.
Her team has completed a large eight-week placebo-controlled trial that shows improvements for women who are given the hormone in combination with other medications.
“The treatment has practical use for women who have not responded well to antipsychotic drug treatment,” says Prof Kulkarni.
Oestrogen fluctuations are critical times for mental health changes, she says.
This is particularly relevant during changes in life phases.
Some women are prone to relapses at low estrogen times during their menstrual cycle and during menopause.
"What we found was that adjunctive estradiol treatment has practical use for women who have not responded well to antipsychotic drug treatment previously.
“We also found that due to the fluctuations of estrogen in women and its impact on mental state the premenstrual period, post natal and menopause phases of a woman’s life are critical times for mental state changes. A team approach to her treatment is vital to the best health and mental health care outcomes.”