Hormones have always been a third rail in female mental health. In New York Magazine’s latest cover story, contributing editor Lisa Miller looks at the surprisingly common, vastly understudied phenomenon of menopausal schizophrenia.
“When the idea for this story first came up — someone sent me a link to a scientific article connecting menopause to schizophrenia onset — I had a really strong reaction,” says Miller. “I am middle-aged myself, and I thought, ‘I will not write a story that reinforces the stereotype and proves that middle-aged women are crazy.’ But as I began to report the piece and talk with the wonderful, thoughtful, caring scientists and doctors who do this work, I began to see how to write a feminist piece. This small group of patients, who became psychotic in mid-life, are, in a way, like all of us: underserved by doctors, underinvestigated by scientific research. Even neuroscientists do most of their lab research on male animals. Female hormonal cycles are real, and they can sometimes affect our health, and that needs to be taken seriously and not just dismissed as whining or complaining, or relegated to the margins of medicine as ‘women’s trouble.’”