Hormones and Depression

Hormones and Depression

According to the National Institutes of Health, hormones are chemical messengers that travel in the bloodstream to tissues or organs. They affect your growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction and mood. Hormones are powerful, and a tiny amount can drastically change your cells. Therefore, having too much or little of a certain hormone can be serious. The three hormones that are most often associated with depression are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These three hormones rise and fall, and they follow the same pattern every month. They affect your energy level, mood, libido, socialization and virtually every part of your day.

Estrogen and Moods

How people respond to different levels of estrogen varies per person, but this hormone is a major player in regulating moods. It acts on the parts of the brain that control emotion by increasing serotonin and the number of serotonin receptors in the brain. It also modifies the production and the effects of endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain.

Progesterone and Moods

Women who have depression often have lower levels of serotonin. One of the enzymes associated with lowering serotonin is monoamine oxidase (MAO), and progesterone increases MAO concentration, thus producing depression and irritability.

Testosterone and Moods

A condition known as irritable male syndrome is most often caused by high stress and low testosterone levels. However, men can also suffer with irritability when they have high estrogen levels. This imbalance is often caused by a declining level of testosterone associated with aging, or an increase of the production of estrogen associated with weight gain.

Signs of Depression

While depression varies by person, the following issues are common signs of depression:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Sleep changes
  • Anger or irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Reckless behavior
  • Concentration problems
  • Unexplained aches and pains

When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, it is time to seek help.

Treating Depression

Treatment for depression is individualized, because what works for one person might not work for another. There is no one treatment that is appropriate for all depressed patients, so you should explore the many treatment options before seeking help. The best approach often involves a combination of social support, lifestyle changes, emotional skills building and professional counseling.

Therapy is a viable option for treating depression, because it can address depression from a variety of angles. Some types of therapy teach practical techniques to reframe negative thinking and employ behavioral skills. More importantly, therapy can help you work through the root of your depression, helping you understand why you feel a certain way, what triggers your depression and what you can do to stay healthy.

Help for Depression

The sooner you get help, the greater the likelihood that you can recover. To be assured of confidentiality and to receive answers to your questions, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline any time. We want to help you find the right treatment program to handle depression, and we can provide you with options, information about insurance and resources to help you pay for treatment.