This article provides an overview of the neurobiology of stress and how dysfunction of the stress system may be related to psychological or behavioral processes that emerge during biological transitions across the life span of a female individual. These transitions involve distinct hormonal changes that may or may not be accompanied by external physical changes and concomitant psychosocial adaptations. The biological transitions include the intrauterine and neonatal periods; puberty, including both adrenarche and gonadarche; pregnancy and the postpartum period; and the perimenopausal and menopausal periods. We propose that biological transitions are times of increased psychological and physical vulnerability for some individuals, and this vulnerability may be related to concurrent changes in the reactivity of the stress system. Models for examining hormone-behavior relations during biological transitions are discussed along with specific research and clinical examples of disorders of the stress system temporally associated with female biological transitions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Reproductive Medicine