About this Research Topic
Social factors can be among the most important moderators of hormonal fluctuations and mental well-being, in particular the emotional symptoms that present as an outcome of such hormonal fluctuations. For example, perinatal, perimenstrual and perimenopausal quality of social relationships can predict individual adaptation to these endocrine transition periods. Above this, endocrine co-fluctuations in close relationships can act as sex-steroidal influences on mental well-being of women and men. More specifically during times of hormonal transitions, e.g. normal testosterone and estradiol decline in men before the birth of their offspring, which is related to greater social support and reduced aggression towards their partner.
In contrast, the smaller the male’s decrease in testosterone (associated with smaller social support and more aggressiveness towards the expectant mother), the higher the pre-partal woman’s increase in testosterone and estradiol. Existing research on the peripartum has also pointed to a highly increased risk in depression and anxiety in both women and men if these co-fluctuations are out of sync. These kinds of mechanisms involving social-interactional, emotional and endocrinological factors are far from clear and research is urgently needed not only considering the peripartum, but also other hormonal transitions like the perimenopause or perimenstrual time windows.
While building on these existing studies, this Research Topic draws together Genetics, Psychoneuroendocrinology and the Neuroscience in order to shed light on the role of social and environmental factors in predicting mental health during periods of reproductive hormone change, including the perimenstruum, the perinatal period, and the perimenopause. Our aim is to represent a unique integrative research forum that addresses interactive processes between social and endocrinological factors in women’s mental health. We seek to provide not only new data but also thorough reviews of the key genetic, neuroendocrinological, social and methodological concepts. This integrative work is thought to build on and systematically extend individual data on women’s predictors of their own well-being towards a broader interactional and social perspective.
Key concepts we wish to emphasize in this Research Topic are:
• (Epi-)genetic sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations
• Stress physiology in close relationships
• Traumatic of chronic stress
• Empathy, theory of mind and mindfulness
• Attachment styles
• Personality structures
• Social support
Methodological articles will be welcomed that are instructive as to which specific types of research designs and methodology serve best in this type of social endocrinology research, e.g. real-time social interaction designs, ecological momentary assessment and statistical methods, such as multi-level modeling.
Keywords: Hormonal Fluctuations, Social Interaction, Perimenstrual, Perinatal, Perimenopausal, Mental Health (Female & Male), Psychoneuroendocrinology
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