Hormone Effects on Responses to Stress (HERS)

Women are at an increased risk of experiencing depression and are also at risk for disorders specifically related to female reproductive changes, including postpartum depression, perimenopausal depression, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Changes in the sex hormone estrogen are thought to be involved in causing these reproductive mood disorders and may partly explain the increased risk for depression in women overall.


The purpose of the HERS study is to investigate how estrogen influences mood and the ways women respond to emotional information in daily life. In this way, we hope to improve the treatment of depression in women.


We are currently recruiting reproductive-aged women ages 18-42 in Regina to participate in this study!

Participating would span over approximately one month and would involve the following:


1)    One Enrollment Session:

The first visit takes place in our laboratory and lasts approximately 30-45 minutes. During this visit:

·         We will measure your blood pressure

·         You will be asked to complete questionnaires about your medical history, mood, and experiences of stressful life events.


2)    Mood Assessment:

Every evening for approximately one month (or one full menstrual cycle), you will be asked to complete a brief mood questionnaire, each lasting less than 5 minutes and done online. You will also be asked to monitor when your menstrual period begins and when you ovulate next. Ovulation will be determined by ovulation predictor tests provided to you. This will allow us to schedule each laboratory session at different points in your menstrual cycle, which are characterized by different levels of estrogen.


3)    Two Lab Sessions:

An in-person laboratory session will be scheduled at the University of Regina on two specific days of your menstrual cycle, lasting 1.5 to 2 hours. You will be asked to complete a variety of tasks while we assess your emotional and physical responses.  For example, you will be asked to look at some emotional faces and words and undergo a simulated job interview and mental arithmetic task while your heart activity is measured. You will also be asked to complete various brief questionnaires relating to your mood.


 Participants receive $50 in compensation for contributing to important research! Click HERE to complete a brief eligibility survey to find out if you qualify to participate or contact us for more information!



Fluctuating Estrogen and Menopausal Mood (FEMM)

The menopause transition or ‘perimenopause’ represents the 5-6-year transition from reproductively capable menstrual cycles to the end of menstruation. Women are 3 times more likely to develop depression during this time, and there is a two to four-fold increase in the risk of clinically significant depressive symptoms during menopause. Perimenopausal women are also nine times more likely to experience suicidal ideation compared with pre- or postmenopausal women or aged-matched men. It has been proposed that this trend of depression vulnerability during the menopause transition may result from a hypersensitivity to the extreme estrogen fluctuations that occur during this time.

The primary purpose of the FEMM study was to directly examine the role that increased sensitivity to estrogen fluctuation plays in the presentation of perimenopausal depression. We expect that the FEMM study will better inform women and their health care providers of the experiences of the menopause transition, while also providing valuable information for the development of effective treatments for this disorder.



We are incredibly grateful to the women of Saskatchewan who have participated in the FEMM Study, which was officially completed in February 2019. We are currently analysing the data to shed some light to this important issue! Please check back in the fall of 2019, when we hope to have some exciting results to share!