Hormones play important roles in your mind and body. For instance, an imbalance of reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone makes a person anxious and irritable. That’s why for ladies, when they say they’re ‘PMS-ing’ they manifest being moody. So what’s the relationship between hormones and mental health?
Do you think your moodiness is out of nowhere that you can’t explain? Perhaps it’s your hormones or this explains underlying physical or psychological issues. Read further to know more about how can hormonal changes affect a person’s mental health.
Hormones and Mental Health Symptoms: Common Signs of Hormone Dysregulation
The human body aims to maintain a physiological equilibrium. Without balance, the whole body including the mind, cannot function properly. Emotional problems happen because of hormone dysregulation, and this can be caused by stress. Here are some of the common psychological and physical symptoms of hormonal dysregulation:
- Depressed mood and anxiety
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Weight changes (weight gain or weight loss)
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Memory loss, confusion, and brain fog
- Irregular heartbeat
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Hair loss and dry skin
- Temperature intolerance
What are Hormonal Imbalances?
Hormones are considered the chemical messengers that serve as a communicator between the glands and organs of the body. Hormones rely on balance and regularity. When there are hormone imbalances, these affect the other systems of the body, especially the nervous system.
Due to the advancement in medical science, there is a better understanding of the relationship between the nervous system and endocrine system. Studies show a connection between these two systems when one wants to understand how hormones affect mental health symptoms. For this reason, there is an improved understanding of the effects of hormones and neurotransmitters on mental health.
Types of Hormones That Cause Imbalances
There are different types of hormonal imbalances and their effects on a person’s mental health.
Insulin is responsible for the regulation of blood sugar or glucose. If insulin is unregulated, this could cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels. When there is an imbalance in insulin levels, a person may experience the following:
- Poor concentration
- Anxiety and panic
- Alzheimer’s disease (in rare cases)
When insulin level is low, brain function and brain health are affected, causing brain fog and blurry thinking.
The three sex hormones are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When there are hormonal fluctuations, a person’s mental health is affected. These hormones are also linked to oxytocin. Oxytocin is responsible for a person’s pleasure and happiness. A person experiences depression and anxiety if their oxytocin level is low.
Estrogen is the sex hormone for women. When estrogen levels are low, a woman may experience the following:
- Loss of pleasure and motivation
- Poor memory and cognitive function
- Mood swings and anxiety
- Low libido
Progesterone is the calming hormone that is responsible for making a woman feel good. When a woman’s progesterone is dysregulated, they experience sleep disturbances, irritability, depression, and stress.
Estrogen is responsible for making a man feel good, boosting self-confidence, and providing positive well-being. When testosterone levels fluctuate, common symptoms are experienced by men:
- Increased anxiety and irritability
- Poor self-confidence
- Memory loss
The two stress hormones are cortisol and adrenaline. There is more production of these hormones when a person is in a stressful situation. When a person experiences too much stress, they may experience major depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability.
Everyone wants to avoid stress as much as possible. However, there is no balance and harmony when stress is present. When stress hormones are low, the common symptoms are:
- Fatigue and depression
- Inability to focus and concentrate
- Limited cognitive function
The thyroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands is responsible for regulating cell activity, metabolism, and mood control. Imbalances in thyroid hormones are caused by stress, aging, pregnancy, and postpartum.
Having an overactive thyroid can cause anxiety and panic attacks. On the other hand, an underactive thyroid gland can cause depression since thyroid hormones reaching the nervous system are not enough.
When there is thyroid dysfunction, the person experiences the following symptoms:
- Exhaustion and irritability
- Poor memory
Reproductive Hormones and Women’s Mental Health
When there is hormonal dysregulation, it can complicate one’s anxiety and depression. Hormone dysregulation happens when there is little or excess production of hormones by the endocrine system.
A decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels can make most women feel irritable and anxious. This could impact a woman’s reproductive health.
The fluctuations in hormone levels affect both men and women. Despite this, women are more sensitive to these fluctuations. Unlike men, women experience more hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy, giving birth, postpartum, and menopause.
During a woman’s menstrual cycle, the regular fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone can cause extreme mood changes called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). This usually occurs during menopause and may experience postpartum depression.
Multiple hormone changes happen simultaneously during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause. So, instead of considering these hormonal irregularities, psychiatric symptoms due to fluctuations in estrogen are looked into.
Causes of Hormonal Imbalances in Women
Chronic stress can result in hormonal imbalances that ultimately contribute to a person’s mental health issues. Chronic stress is caused by lifestyle factors such as poor sleep, unhealthy eating habits, not exercising, and currently having a medical condition.
Thyroid imbalances happen during a menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause. Chronic stressors due to an increase in a woman’s sex hormones can cause thyroid dysfunction. An increase in mental health symptoms can be observed during periods when hormones fluctuate.
Treatment Plan for Hormonal Dysregulation
Treatment options for Hormonal dysregulation are medication and a lifestyle change. Useful medical treatments for hormonal dysregulation are:
- Metformin for diabetes medication can regulate insulin and blood sugar
- Levothyroxine for thyroid medication can regulate thyroid function during thyroid under activeness
- Hormone replacement therapy can help in hormone imbalance affecting mental health
- Birth control pills containing estrogen and progesterone can help in mood regulation
- In the case of hyperthyroidism, Methimazole can be used to block the thyroid gland from releasing thyroid hormones.
Hormone levels can improve through the following lifestyle changes:
- A healthy diet can balance hormone levels as well as drink plenty of water and decaffeinated tea
- Stay active and exercise regularly
How to Manage Hormonal Imbalances?
Ask Help From a Doctor
The human mind and body are linked together. A healthcare provider can make a holistic and systematic healthcare plan upon assessing a person’s physical and mental well-being. Visit an endocrinologist, obstetrician/gynecologist, and an internal medicine doctor for proper consultation.
If a person is experiencing mental health symptoms, it is important to visit a doctor right away. They will check a person’s hormonal levels before they are given a medical prescription. A proper assessment must be done to determine the exact cause of a person’s depression so they can be given the right medication. If a therapist or counselor is needed, the healthcare provider will recommend one.
Have a Holistic Lifestyle
To ensure that a person’s recovery will go as planned, it is important to maintain healthy lifestyle habits that will benefit your mental health.
A person will constantly feel tired and depressed due to an unbalanced work-life setup. This cycle can be stopped if the person adopts a better lifestyle. Here are some suggestions on how to live a better lifestyle:
- Develop good sleeping habits
- Have a self-care routine
- Avoid alcohol consumption
- Stay active and exercise regularly for your physical health
- Go outside and enjoy the outdoors
- Incorporate stress-reduction techniques throughout the day
- Join a support group
- Visit a healthcare provider regularly
Take Medications Regularly and Monitor Hormone Levels
Disorders caused by irregular hormones can be managed by taking medication. Be honest about the symptoms felt as well as the previous medication or interventions. Let them know the changes experienced during the previous and current medications. Those with medical prescriptions should make sure to take their medications religiously.
Keep a Medical Record
Make an effort to record the symptoms. These will help the doctor during the assessment. Here are some of the details that need to be recorded:
- When did the symptoms start?
- What are the mental health issues experienced?
- What triggers caused the mental health issues? These triggers could be job loss, the death of a loved one, or a big move.
- What medications are taken, and for how long?
- History of existing mental health issues in the family
Reduce Inflammation Levels
In addressing mood disorders, having a nutritional therapist and an anti-inflammatory diet is effective. In stress-related inflammation, particularly brain inflammation, proper breathing exercises, and meditation can help.
Hormonal imbalance has a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Reactions to these imbalances are usually unexpected and may be difficult to control. You need expert advice and guidance in managing your hormones and mental health.
Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) is an expert in providing holistic growth and development to both the brain and body. KCC can connect you to medical specialists who can best cater to your medical needs — to help you manage stress and start lifestyle changes.