Anxiety, Depression and Hormones
Your hormones could be affecting your mood. If you’ve had mood swings before your period, at the start of menopause, during or after pregnancy, then you know what I mean. But hormones can affect your mood at other times as well – not just during specific phases of your life.
When hormone levels are higher or lower than they should be it can throw off your mood. Not everyone with anxiety will have the same hormonal imbalances. Likewise, not everyone with low mood will have the same hormonal imbalances. The key is to find out exactly what is going on with your hormones and then treat your unique hormone profile.
Estrogen: Elevated estrogen levels have been associated with panic attacks and depression. Low estrogen has also been associated with anxiety as well as low mood.
Thyroid Hormone: Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is often associated with anxiety. However, having hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can also be connected to anxiety. If you suffer with ongoing depression it may be worthwhile to check if your thyroid levels are low. Depression is a common symptom of hypothyroidism.
Progesterone: When progesterone levels are off it can contribute to anxiety and make you feel irritable and unable to cope. Usually, these symptoms are blamed on high progesterone. But low progesterone has been seen in anxious and depressed patients as well.
Testosterone: Low testosterone can contribute to low mood in both men and women.
Cortisol: Cortisol is often called “the stress hormone”. Usually when cortisol levels are higher than ideal it contributes to anxiety. When levels are low it can lower mood but it can also lead to a drained, burnt out, anxious feeling commonly called “tired but wired”.
As a naturopath, I often test hormones by either a blood test or a saliva test. Blood testing for hormones has been around longer and has good evidence backing it up. However, I find that sometimes saliva testing can offer deeper insight into what’s going on – especially when blood tests come back normal.
If you feel like your mood is “just not right”, it may be worth figuring out what’s going on with your hormones.
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected].