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Can Hormone Imbalance Cause Depression

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Androgens Dhea And Dhea

Hormonal Imbalances That Cause Depression, Anxiety and Mood Swings.

Dehydroepiandrosterone and itâs sulfated form DHEA-S is the most highly concentrated hormone naturally occurring in our body. As a precursor to other hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, DHEA is essential for healthy functioning.

Low levels of DHEA and DHEA-S is associated with depression some studies have even found positive results when treating older depressed patients with DHEA supplements. Although DHEA supplementation tends to quickly raise natural testosterone levels, and therefore comes with a long list of side effects including hirsutism, insulin resistance, insomnia, and abnormal menses.

Further research is needed to understand the physiological effects of DHEA efficacy of DHEA supplementation is low and the risk of drug interactions or strong side-effects are high.

Hormonal Imbalances And Depression

With Patricia Celan MD and Cory Rice DO

When something is out of balance with your hormones, it has an affect on the whole system, which means you’re going to feel it manifest in both your body and mind.

Living with an endocrine disorder such as hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, or acromegaly means dealing with physical issues as well as possible cognitive and mental health issues.

You might have noticed that your hypothyroidism comes with the frustrating side effect of a depressed mood, or that your adrenal disorder triggers anxiety, agitation, or an inability to focus. Its unfortunately not uncommon, but being aware of how it all fits together and what you can do to manage it is key.

Curing Anxiety From Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes can be a problematic anxiety culprit, because they generally can’t be cured overnight. If you’re suffering from a hormonal imbalance, then you are also likely in need of some type of hormonal care, including:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Sleep

There are many things you can do that will help your hormones stay regulated. Diet is the first step, as there are nutritional deficiencies that may affect your hormone levels. For example, iodine plays a role in hormone function, so those that may not have enough iodine in their diet could develop anxiety symptoms.

Exercise and sleep are both useful tools for an individualâs overall wellness, which in turn may affect hormone levels. All of these are important strategies for maintaining proper hormone levels.

You should also talk to your doctor about medications that could assist with hormone balance. For example, a person that experiences anxiety during heavy periods may be given an oral contraceptive. Thyroid medication may also be useful for those with hyperthyroidism. It all depends on the cause of the imbalance and the hormones that are affected, but there are treatments that are available.

There are also some herbal remedies that may be useful, depending on the type of condition you have. Keep in mind that herbal remedies receive very minimal research, so always talk to a doctor about these options before using any.

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Treatment And Ways To Deal With Depression

  • Hormone replacement therapy

  • Mental Health therapy

  • Adopt healthy lifestyle habits that can help support mental health

  • Understand the cycle of depression. If youâre tired and canât engage in the activities you love, your mood will take a hit, leading to depression, which leads to more fatigue.

  • Follow good sleeping habits

  • Use smart lifestyle choices

  • Exercise can help correct depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues

  • Antidepressant medications

  • Daily deep-breathing exercises and focusing on your breath

  • Creating a pre-bedtime self-care ritual

  • Spending time in nature simply walking or meditating

  • Journaling your worries and anxieties

  • Meditation & yoga

Symptoms of Depression and Menopause

While thesymptoms of depression can vary depending on the severity, there are some standard symptoms to watch for. The problem is that symptoms of depression are also similar to the symptoms of menopause. We know that menopause is not caused by depression, but maybe depression has a lot to do with menopause.

Common symptoms include

  • low libido

How To Reach Out For Support


Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesnt have to be able to fix you they just need to be a good listenersomeone wholl listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you.

Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they dont replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.

Try to keep up with social activities even if you dont feel like it. Often when youre depressed it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed.

Find ways to support others. Its nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support yourself. So, find waysboth big and smallto help others: volunteer, be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody.

Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences.

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Naturally Balancing Your Hormones

Dr. Josh Axe recommends seven natural ways to balance our hormones:

1. Swap bad carbs for healthy fats: Eating foods rich in healthy fatty acids are essential to keeping hormone levels in check. Healthy fats efficiently counteract the inflammatory and hormone-altering properties of refined carbs.

2. Use adaptogen herbs: Adaptogen herbs are healing plants that combat stress and boost immune function. Axe recommends the herbs ashwagandha and holy basil.

3. Address emotional imbalances: Despite all of the statistics that point to stress as the number one killer today, far too many of us fail to address external factor and lifestyle choices that contribute to stress. Meditation, acupuncture, and exercise and natural options to rebalance emotional states.

4. Use essential oils: To naturally balance hormones requires the elimination of toxins in the body. Be wary of body care products that contain DEA and parabens. Try using natural products such as coconut oils, essential oils, and shea butter.

5. Use supplements: Our world is more fast-paced than at any time in history. Eating on the go has become the norm for many of us, which isnt a good thing for health. Natural supplements can help bridge this nutrient gap in our diets. Try some organic, plant-based nutrients or natural multi-vitamins.

Causes Of Depression In Women

Women report experiencing depression at much higher rates than men. This gender disparity may be explained by a number of social, biological, and hormonal factors that are specific to women.

Premenstrual problems. Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can cause the familiar symptoms of premenstrual syndrome , such as bloating, irritability, fatigue, and emotional reactivity. For some women, symptoms are severe and disabling and may warrant a diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder . PMDD is characterized by severe depression, irritability, and other mood disturbances beginning about 10 to 14 days before your period and improving within a few days of its start.

Pregnancy and infertility. The many hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can contribute to depression, particularly in women already at high risk. Other issues relating to pregnancy such as miscarriage, unwanted pregnancy, and infertility can also play a role in depression.

Postpartum depression. Its not uncommon for new mothers to experience the baby blues. This is a normal reaction that tends to subside within a few weeks. However, some women experience severe, lasting depression. This condition is called postpartum depression and is thought to be influenced, at least in part, by hormonal fluctuations.

Body image issues which increase in girls during the sexual development of puberty may contribute to depression in adolescence.

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Common Hormonal Imbalances That Can Cause Depressive Symptoms

Of all of the hormones our bodies produce, there are four that above all others are known to lead to symptoms of depressive disorders when they are out of balance.

  • Estrogen: Estrogen plays a role in the production of neurotransmitters in your brain . Too much or too little estrogen can change the neurotransmitter levels and lead to feelings of depression.6

  • Progesterone: Often called the ârelaxation hormone,â progesterone has a calming effect when it is produced at the right levels. When hormones are off-kilter or when progesterone hormone is low, it can lead to depression, as well as irritability, anxiety, Sleepless nights, and brain fog.5

  • Testosterone: In both men and women, testosterone helps prevent depression, and decreases cognitive impairment and Alzheimerâs disease. Low testosterone levels have been shown to increase symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as trouble concentrating, lack of motivation, and fatigue.4,5

  • Thyroid: Thethyroid plays a powerful role in keeping your brain and body healthy and involved in mood regulation. Too little or too much hormone is linked to â of all depressions.5

How Is Depression Diagnosed

Anxiety and Depression: Hormonal Imbalance May Be the Cause

To diagnose depression your doctor will do a full examination and get your medical history. They may refer you to a psychiatrist for a more in-depth evaluation. Since depression cant be tested for using blood tests, your doctor will ask you questions about your thoughts and feelings. Your doctor will be able to diagnose you based on your symptoms and answers.

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Indirect Effects Of Our Hormones On Mental Health

Hormonal changes often lead to fluctuations in body weight, hair thinning or excessive growth, facial acne, and other physical transformations which can contribute to our self perception, body image, and self-esteem. It is important to recognize how physical changes, due to hormonal imbalances or treatments, can affect our emotional well-being.

Furthermore, hormonal imbalances are a source of physiological stress which is felt by our insular cortex, a part of our brain that senses our internal state. Similar to feeling down or fatigued at the beginning of a bad cold, we may sense hormonal imbalances and subconsciously allow it to affect our emotional state.

Types Of Hormonal Imbalances Associated With Depression


Both progesterone and estrogen hormones and depression can be linked. Progesterone, one of the female sex hormones, is what helps prepare the uterus to be an ideal place for a fertilized egg to grow. Estrogen is the hormone that prepares the uterus by building up the lining. At around day 14 of a womans cycle, progesterone levels rise which stops the uterine lining from building up. If theres no egg, then progesterone levels drop and the lining of the uterus is shed.

When a woman enters the perimenopause stage her life, the first hormone to wane is progesterone. Reproductive years are starting to come to an end, so therefore, theres no reason for progesterone to keep preparing the uterus for pregnancy. During these years, periods can become wildly erratic.

Fluctuations with progesterone levels can do the same thing to emotions by changing the brain chemistry which can lead to depression. Estrogen becomes the dominant hormone which can cause cortisol levels to rise and increase feelings of anxiety.

Progesterone also stimulates GABA, the feel-good/stay-relaxed neurotransmitter thats also affected by the thyroid. When progesterone levels drop, GABA levels can drop too leading to feelings of both anxiety and depression.

Progesterone is the hormone that regulates sleep cycles so its not uncommon for women to begin to experience insomnia.




For additional information about thyroid disease and treatment, click here.

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Can Progesterone Cause Depression

Progesterone can also cause skin discoloration and seborrhea. Progesterone may affect your vision, causing blurred vision and other vision changes. Progesterone can affect your mental state and 19 percent of patients experience depression. Patients may also experience anxiety, insomnia and impaired concentration.

Decreased Libido: Low Testosterone

Can A Hormonal Imbalance Cause Depression?

While excess testosterone is associated with higher aggression, testosterone lack can contribute to irritable male syndrome. Low levels of testosterone are tied to higher amounts of cortisol the bodys stress hormone.

Resulting behaviors include anger, sarcasm, frustration, sadness, depression, being withdrawn, hostile, and/or anxious, and dissatisfaction, says Richard Giannoto, MD, a metabolic wellness physician.

Low sex drive often accompanies testosterone deficiency as well.

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What Causes Hormone Problems

Many things can interfere with healthy hormoneproduction, including:

  • Eating a diet high in refined sugar:Consuming too much sugar disrupts normal hormone function and can result inexcessive levels of estrogen in relation to progesterone, which increases therisk for mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
  • Chronic stress: When stress hits, our bodies respond by releasing hormones that put you into fight-or-flight mode. But when stress is unrelenting, the constant flood of these stress hormones disrupts the production of the bodys other important chemical messengers, leading to hormonal dysfunction.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins: Manyeveryday environmental toxins, such as pesticides, are known to interfere with normalhormone production.
  • Traumatic brain injuries :Head injuries often cause damage to the pituitary gland, a tiny, pea-sized organ located at the base of the brain. Known as the bodys master gland, the pituitary regulates hormone production, but when it is damaged, it can disrupt the entire hormonal system.

Studies On How Hormones And Depression Are Linked

There have been numerous studies completed which show that your hormones and depression are connected, particularly with women going through the menopausal years being at much higher risk for developing depressive symptoms, even if they have no prior history of depression.

Some studies have shown that the significant hormonal changes that occur can also make a woman more vulnerable to physical and emotional challenges which can significantly affect function and quality of life.

Interestingly, one of the studies of 476 women, aged 40 to 60, noted that perimenopausal women experiencing depression were significantly more likely to have vasomotor symptoms than the women who were not suffering from depressed symptoms.

For more detailed information regarding studies concerning hormones and depression, click here.

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Early Losses And Trauma

Certain events can have lasting physical, as well as emotional, consequences. Researchers have found that early losses and emotional trauma may leave individuals more vulnerable to depression later in life.

Profound early losses, such as the death of a parent or the withdrawal of a loved one’s affection, may resonate throughout life, eventually expressing themselves as depression. When an individual is unaware of the wellspring of his or her illness, he or she can’t easily move past the depression. Moreover, unless the person gains a conscious understanding of the source of the condition, later losses or disappointments may trigger its return.

Traumas may also be indelibly etched on the psyche. A small but intriguing study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that women who were abused physically or sexually as children had more extreme stress responses than women who had not been abused. The women had higher levels of the stress hormones ACTH and cortisol, and their hearts beat faster when they performed stressful tasks, such as working out mathematical equations or speaking in front of an audience.

Perimenopause Menopause And Depression

Depression, Bipolar & Hormone Imbalances

Perimenopause can seem to add to the stress level, and can certainly create hormonal imbalances that affect mood and mental function. Many women feel disoriented and confused by what is happening to them. The estrogen dominance so common in perimenopause can exacerbate symptoms of depression.

Perimenopause is also a time when many women find their true voice. This can bring to the surface old unresolved emotional issues. While absolutely vital, this process can add to your feelings of sadness or being overwhelmed. And in truth, it is a lot to deal with.

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Female Depression And The Role Of Ovarian Hormones

Another type of female depression associated with changing hormone levels is referred to as premenstrual syndrome , or in more severe cases as premenstrual dysphoric disorder , which occurs in ~ 5% of women of reproductive age . The mood-related symptoms of PMS, including depression, anxiety and irritability, vary in accord with the different patterns of ovarian hormone secretion during the menstrual cycle. The symptoms of PMS occur when estrogen and progesterone levels decrease during the late leuteal phase of the menstrual cycle and disappear at or soon after the onset of menses. Thus, PMS may be triggered by hormonal changes occurring during the leuteal phase of the menstrual cycle. However, the symptoms of PMS can occur despite the elimination of the leuteal phase by administration of the progesterone antagonist mifepristone . These results suggest that hormonal changes before the leuteal phase may be responsible for the onset of PMS symptoms . In addition, the interaction between the gonadal steroid and serotonergic systems may regulate mood and affect during the menstrual cycle. Serotonin function is altered in women with PMS and serotonergic compounds such as fluoxetine can be used to treat PMS and PMDD .

Possible Causes Of Hormone Imbalance

  • Pregnancy: This is one of the more obvious causes of hormone imbalance. The levels of several different hormones change during pregnancy and may cause the symptoms above. Luckily the hormonal imbalances linked to pregnancy are temporary and resolve some time after the baby is born .
  • Breastfeeding: Some of the hormonal issues that pregnant women experience will become less noticeable after they give birth and recover. But, breastfeeding a baby can also affect hormone levels. There are two hormones directly related to breastfeeding: prolactin and oxytocin. Breastfeeding may also affect progesterone because women who breastfeed may have irregular menstrual cycles or no cycle at all.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome : This is a hormonal disorder that is common among women of reproductive age. The US Office on Womens Health reports that 1 in 10 American women are affected by PCOS.
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency: This is also called premature ovarian failure and occurs when the ovaries stop functioning normally before age 40. The ovaries stop producing the normal amount of estrogen or release eggs for ovulation. This often leads to infertility.
  • Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism: Both of these conditions are related to the thyroid gland, which is responsible for producing and releasing hormones that regulate metabolism. Hypothyroidism means it is not producing enough hormones and hyperthyroidism means its producing too much.
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