Friday, July 19, 2013

Patients Ask - Do Hormone Imbalances Cause Depression?

A lot of people have been asking, "Do hormone imbalances cause depression?" Both physical and mental symptoms have been presented by patients due to abnormal levels different hormones in the body affecting the cells in both the brain and muscles. Several studies have also been conducted showing the relationship which can help people find treatment and prevention.

Excess Estrogen

Excess estrogen may mean either having too much estrogen being produced or having too less progesterone to balance the effects. Doctors find that several patients with hormone imbalance experience agitated depression which is a state combing both elements of depression and excitation or agitation. Women describe it as a sense of restlessness and irritability compounded by insomnia at an extent. Estrogens are described as excitotoxins when present in high levels. Estrogen dominance is considered as mild estrogen toxicity wherein patients feel like jumping out of their skin or having an electrical charge in their system.

Estrogen is then discovered to create passivity and agitation. The addition of other substances containing excitotoxins such as aspartame or caffeine can exacerbate symptoms. Effects can last for years depending on the patient's response. It has then become a fact that hormone imbalance can cause depression in women since hormones are actually chemicals affecting substances in the brain responsible for mood. This the same as hormone changes experienced during labor or menstrual cycles. Women often go through temporary or short-term depression during such cases.

Hormones and Neurotransmitters

Hormones and neurotransmitters are both natural-occurring substances in the body with a complex interaction and links that can help explain the changes in physical and mental aspects during hormone imbalance. Hormones circulate through the bloodstream and act to help cells and organs properly. Neurotransmitters are more specific in their role of boosting or reducing chemical signals between particular nerve cells to gain specific responses.

There are so-called stress hormones that particularly cause depression medically. Stress and depression are highly associated. When a person's response or ability to cope to stress is impaired, stress hormones can accumulate thereby causing a variety of mental symptoms leading to depression. Emotional arousal is triggered by various neurochemicals in the brain and hormones in the bloodstream which can hinder physical activities and mental capabilities.

Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters particularly responsible for enhancing mood. However, low levels of these have been found in depressed individuals with a specific correlation with hormone imbalance spurring doctors to provide a diagnosis of clinical depression. However, low serotonin levels can be either a symptom or cause of depression. If a person engages in pleasure-giving activities or minimize stress, more serotonin is being produced and vice-versa. Depression can also cause added chemical changes in the brain which determines the duration of the condition.

Dealing with Stress

Stress is a triggering factor that can affect hormone imbalance. The body views stress as a type of threat resulting to the "fight or flight" response. The body will either try to fight back the perceived threat by reinforcing itself and improving overall performance and function of cells or organs or it will try to preserve and protect itself by avoiding the perceived threat. Some occurrences in the body include heightened alertness, suppressed appetite or sex drive, enhanced delivery of fuel or energy to major muscles, improved focus and boosting levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These effects are supposed to last only for a short while until the threat is overcome or gone. Otherwise, the effects will be unhealthy and hormone imbalances cause depression.

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