Mood and the Brain

Colette Dowling, LCSW

New York psychotherapist Colette Dowling, LCSW, has written eight books, including

   "You Mean I Don't Have to Feel This Way?": New Hope for Depression, Anxiety and Depression.

For more information, or for

      a free therapy consultation you can reach Colette at 718-594-0201

Mood Disorders and the Brain

Events from childhood produce changes in the neurotransmitter levels of the brain.

And it isn’t just childhood trauma that can produce vulnerability to anxiety and depression. Emotional wounds at any point along the way, from childhood through adulthood, can create the kinds of alterations in the brain that cause mood disorders.

There are differences in all of us--differences in the amount of trauma or stress we experience and in the degree of chemical vulnerability we inherit. No one exists in a perfect state of chemical balance.

Reproductive hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can have a profound effect on brain chemicals.

  • During the time of the cycle when estrogen levels fall--between ovulation and the beginning of menstruation--serotonin levels fall too, and this can affect a woman's mood.
  • Women are often amazed by how much their mood improves beginning with the first day of menstruation, the point in the cycle when both estrogen and serotonin levels begin to rise.
  • Those who have relatively high levels of serotonin to begin with will not be much affected by the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle.
  • Those whose base levels of serotonin are low will have a different premenstrual story.They may require extra exercise, meditation or both to counter the downward pull of estrogen in their brain chemicals.

For some, that may not be enough and they will want to consider low doses of medication just during those days when they're premenstrual. The newest nformatikon comes from the  new--and important--field, of reproductive psychiatry.

Reproductive psychiatrists are experts in helping women withextreme hormonal mood changes.

 Help can also be gotten from psychotherapy. Brain imaging studies have shown that both psychotherapy and medication produce changes in the functioning of the brain, leading to increases in emotional wellbeing

Click here for Colette's article on anxiety.

Click here for Colette's article on postpartum depression.

Click here for Colette's article on PMS.

Click here for Colette's article on mood disorders and premenstrual cravings.

New York psychotherapist Colette Dowling, LCSW, has a private therapy practice on Lower Fifth Ave. in the Flatiron district of Manhattan.

Colette received a masters degree from The Smith College School for Social Work and completed advanced training in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis at The Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, in New York.

Colette can be reached for a free therapy consultation at 718-594-0201, or by e-mailing

To hear Colette speaking about what it's like starting therapy with someone new, click on the audio button.

For information on Colette's psychotherapy practice see her profile at Psychology Today.

See Colette's articles on women's mental health.

Copyright Colette Dowling, 2006-2010