HORMONES AND MENTAL HEALTH

HORMONES AND MENTAL HEALTH 

Did you know hormones and mental health are linked? Hormones greatly influence our emotions and behaviours and having a better understanding of this can help us improve emotional wellbeing.

What Happens To Your Emotions When You Have A Hormonal Imbalance?
Let’s look at the sex hormones and their role in emotional wellbeing.
When there is no presence of a hormonal imbalance, estrogen promotes the activity of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which encourages emotions of happiness and motivation. The presence of testosterone in the body at optimal levels also helps to promote dopamine activity.
Meanwhile, progesterone has a close relationship with the neurotransmitters GABA (which, when balanced, promotes feelings of calmness and contentment) and glutamate (which helps maintain mental alertness and contentment).

Imbalances of these hormones contribute to the dysregulation of neurotransmitters, which in turn play havoc with our emotions, leaving us feeling low, demotivated, anxious, and other negative sensations. It may also lead to certain behaviours as a result, such as becoming inactive, avoiding interactions with others, snacking and consuming higher levels of alcohol.

If you have a hormone-related condition and have experienced a change in your emotional wellbeing, a hormonal imbalance could be the reason why.

Dr Asha Chhaya, hormone expert at The Marion Gluck Clinic explains, “When my patients experience emotional and psychological symptoms due to a hormonal imbalance, I always advocate making simple changes first. What I mean by this is that we must look at our basic needs and if they are being not just met, but optimised, in our lifestyle. These needs include hydration, exercise, diet and stress management. It’s important to take stock of the last two months and assess whether these needs have been met, and if not, try to meet them going forward, rather than jumping straight to medications and treatments that may not be necessary if your wellbeing needs are fulfilled in the first place.”

How To Improve Your Hormone Balance For Better Emotional Wellbeing

Making healthy choices in your lifestyle can help you balance your hormones. These include:

Some people who experience negative emotions and low mood, especially during periods of hormonal imbalance, may try to numb these feelings with alcohol. However, the problem with this is that alcohol is metabolised by the liver, but the liver is also metabolising hormones, and when it’s busy metabolising alcohol, hormones cannot be metabolised as efficiently. That can lead to further imbalance. Even though some people might say alcohol helps them with their sleep, it probably isn’t giving them the nourishing sleep that they need, and they find that they are tired the following day, and this causes greater impact to their emotional wellbeing.

Dr Chhaya explains: “Prioritising sleep is important. Even just one night of poor sleep can impact your emotions the next day. Unfortunately, many perimenopausal women struggle with getting a good night’s sleep. Along with implementing good sleep hygiene, there is one supplement I recommend for easing sleep problems, which is magnesium glycinate. This is one of the best forms of magnesium to prepare the body for sleep.”

Can BHRT Improve Emotional Wellbeing?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) helps to regulate hormones, and should be used alongside positive lifestyle changes that are also associated with hormone rebalancing, such as improving nutrition, increasing exercise and reducing stress.
When used in this way, BHRT can contribute to an improvement in mood in those with hormone-related disorders. One study found that even a low dose of BHRT improved emotional lability (mood swings) by 25%, and decreased irritability and anxiety by 25% and 22% respectively.

If you are testosterone deficient and are experiencing negative emotions as a result, BHRT can be used to address this specific deficiency in a dosage and delivery method that causes little to no disruption to the regulation of other hormones.

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