How stress and hormones impact mood

July 21, 2011

By Dr. Constance Crisp, Medical Director of BodyLogicMD of Little Rock

Many people – and doctors – use antidepressants as a first-line of treatment against depression, anxiety and similar mood disorders. However, many of these conditions are actually hormonal in nature and can be resolved much more effectively (and with far fewer side effects!) using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).

Sex Hormones & Mood

Sex hormones can have a profound effect on your mood. For instance, estrogen can help improve your mood via its affect on serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is active in the brain. Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping, as well as affecting how you experience pain. Estrogen, however, helps in the formation of this neurotransmitter, bringing it back to optimal levels.

Progesterone, on the other hand, has a very calming effect. When taken in pill form, progesterone affects the GABA receptors in the brain, calming you and helping you to sleep. Most people realize that when you don’t sleep well, your mood tends to suffer. Natural progesterone, in general, can also help alleviate mood swings, irritability and depression.

Testosterone can have a significant impact on mood, as well. It helps with one’s sense of well-being and self-confidence, which are important aspects to a positive mood. In fact, depression and anxiety are well-known symptoms of low testosterone.

Stress & Mood

Sex hormones aren’t the only hormones that can affect your mood: cortisol is also a major culprit. This hormone, often called the stress hormone, is produced in the adrenal glands in reaction to stress. Your cortisol levels generally increase during periods of heightened stress and decrease when you’re more relaxed.

However, the modern world bombards us with constant stress every day, often without letting our cortisol levels drops back down to less-stressful levels. This results in consistently high levels of cortisol which can deplete the adrenal glands. They don’t have a chance to recover, so your cortisol levels remain low even when stress is present. During this state, which is known as adrenal fatigue, you may experience many mood-related symptoms, including depression, anxiety, insomnia and difficulty handling stress.

Thyroid & Mood

Your thyroid hormones are also important to your mood. These hormones regulate your metabolism. The most common form of thyroid hormone imbalance occurs when your thyroid hormones are low: hypothyroidism. Depression is a well-known symptom of hypothyroidism. However, thyroid hormone replacement therapy frequently resolves the problem, elevating your mood so that you can begin to feel like yourself again.

Read the full article: A Hormonal Approach to Mood

2 Responses to How stress and hormones impact mood

  1. Pingback: Fatigue and Hormone « Community Acupuncture ::: Making Health Affordable

  2. Pingback: I am so Stressed, I am Sick! « The Epigenetics Project Blog

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