Skin patches `can ease the baby blues'

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The Independent Online
Skin patches of the female hormone oestrogen can help women suffering from post- natal depression, new research has found.

A study showed that the patches, similar to the nicotine patches used by smokers, had a positive result in a group of 34 depressed women.

Dr John Studd, from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, carried out research with colleagues from Salisbury in Wiltshire. He said he did not know why the patches worked, but the results were clear.

Oestrogen is a hormone formed mainly in the ovary and, in pregnant women, in the placenta. Of 64 women with major depression, 34 were treated with oestrogen patches for three months and 27 with an inert placebo for the same period of time. The depression experienced by the women was assessed monthly. By the end of the first month, the women receiving the oestrogen had shown a big improvement.

A research paper published in The Lancet today said the study had shown "that transdermal oestrogen is an effective treatment for post-natal depression".