“TAMPERING WITH A WOMAN’S HORMONES IS TAMPERING WITH HER POWER (Dr. Sherril Sellman, ND)
Hormones is derived from a Greek word, hormo, which means “to set in motion”. Hormones are the body’s little messengers that have various effects on modifying the structures and functions of various parts of our body.
They are regulatory substances produced by various endocrine organs and are transported in tissue fluids such as blood to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action. Hormones may affect both positive and negative emotions.
The following hormones play a major role in an individual’s emotions:
Oxytocin, also known as love hormones, is responsible for reproductive activities and emotional bonding. It influences the interpersonal bonding, psychosocial behavior, and trust in relationships. Studies have shown that balanced production of oxytocin leads to more trusting behavior in human beings and enhances the ability to manage stress.
Estrogen are female sex hormones. Low levels during menopause or peri-menopausal state can trigger sadness and may lead to depression when the level becomes very low. Estrogen causes emotional variation by its impact on the neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Estrogen dominance is one of the most common hormonal imbalances seen in women. This is one of the major causes of mood swings, weight gain and low libido. Whereas the rapid drop in its level during menopause often causes depression and anxiety attacks.
Progesterone is a female hormone that prepares the lining of the uterus for a fertilized egg. The onset of menopause (peri-menopausal period) can trigger a drop in progesterone levels. The following are symptoms of low progesterone: migraines or headaches, irregular and heavy periods, unexplained anxiety/depression, malaise, hot flashes, poor sleep patterns, and mood swings.
Thyroid Hormones plays a vital role in brain chemistry and hence the balance of these hormones has a great impact on emotional well-being. Imbalance of thyroid hormones can be both overactive or underactive thyroid hormones. An underactive thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) may lead to decreased motivation, mood swings, short temper, depression, and low tolerance to stress. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can lead to panic and anxiety attacks, impatience, sleeplessness and exaggerated sensitivity to noise.
Thyroid hormone activity is also related to the estrogen level in the body. High level of estrogen or imbalance of estrogen and progesterone may lead to a condition called functional hypothyroidism. This is one of the examples of the orchestrated impact of various hormones on our body.
Testosterone is a very important sex hormone that plays a vital function in puberty. Women produce testosterone hormones in small quantities. Testosterone is an androgen hormone (responsible for regulating the development and maintenance of male characteristics). The imbalance in production of testosterone may result in emotional instability like sadness, rage, fear or anxiety. These hormones cause negative emotions expressed as aggression which is more likely to be expressed through rebellious and irritable behavior than physical attacks.
Common types of hormonal imbalances that may impact a woman’s mood and physical wellbeing are:
-Estrogen Dominance – very common manifestation in peri-menopausal period
-PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), PMDD (Pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder)
-Functional hypothyroidism from estrogen dominance and Hyperthyroidism-commonly from autoimmune attacks.
-Low testosterone – manifests as anxiety and depression
-Menopause-cessation of production of female sex hormones.
Hormonal replacement therapy or management of hormonal imbalances requires detailed history taking as well as appropriate laboratory tests. There are many choices of management of these imbalances, from orally-taken pills to injections and use of alternative choices such as bio-identical hormone or herbs to restore natural balance. It cannot be stressed enough that the essential requirement before initiating any hormonal therapy is a detailed evaluation of the patient’s issues and right management in terms of investigation and treatment.