Oh, hormones! These chemical messengers significantly affect a woman’s life — your weight, your mood, your cravings, and even your libido. Some women breeze through hormonal changes, but for others, they wreak havoc to their emotional state. Let’s talk about three specific sex hormones that contribute to mood swings and what you can do about it.
Hormones And Your Mood
When the levels of certain hormones in your body go up or down, you might feel like your emotions go on a roller-coaster ride with them.
While estrogen is known to be the primary female sex hormone, you also need to know that they affect the emotional centers of the brain in a few ways:
- Increase in estrogen levels make ‘feel good’ endorphins more potent.
- Estrogen boosts serotonin, the so-called, ‘the happy hormone, and adds more serotonin receptors in the brain.
- It helps protect nerves from damage.
By the way, in the reproductive cycle, the ovaries release estrogen gradually. And at mid-cycle, its levels peak, leading to the release of egg or ovulation.
That’s why many women experience pre-menstrual (PMS) symptoms such as angry outbursts, irritability, or depression before their period since their estrogen level is low. Likewise, during postpartum and at menopause, estrogen level falls, which may contribute to depressed mood.
You’ll also find that another hormone, progesterone, complements estrogen. It’s produced in the ovaries after ovulation and prepares the uterus for possible implantation. When it comes to your mood, low progesterone levels heighten the activity of your brain’s amygdala. This, in turn, can result in a heightened emotional response and anxiety.
While testosterone is mainly a male hormone, we actually produce small amounts from our ovaries and adrenal glands. They are speculated to have significant effects on bone strength, ovarian function, and libido.
Did you know that testosterone is manufactured from cholesterol? Amazing, huh?
But even if you have too much cholesterol, it doesn’t mean you’ll have a lot of testosterone. The pituitary gland regulates your testosterone levels.
However, in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), testosterone levels become higher than average.
Research has found that these women are remarkably more anxious and depressed. Moreover, they may have difficulty coping with stress.
On the other hand, if your testosterone level is very low, you may experience a depressed mood.
How You Can Feel Better
While you can’t change the way your body works, you can change the way you live. These seemingly little adjustments can make a significant difference.
Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
PMS usually starts five (5) days before your period and ends four (4) days after you have your period. During this time, you may feel irritable or upset for no apparent reason.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there are a few things you can do about PMS.
First off, you need to change your diet. Limit your intake of fatty food, sugar, salt, and caffeine. Go for complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, pats, wheat, barley, and lentils. Eat foods rich in calcium too.
Next, regular aerobic exercise can help. Swimming, running, or brisk walking for 30 minutes would be good.
This phase includes the years leading up to menopause. It may start in your late 30s or early 40s. One of the first signs is having irregular periods. Your estrogen levels fluctuate, and your progesterone level drops.
As in PMS, you need to make dietary changes and include regular physical exercise in your lifestyle. Moreover, you can add omega-3 rich foods to your diet. This has been found to alleviate low mood associated with this transition into menopause.
Menopause is described as having no menses for 12 months or more. It happens naturally when a woman has no functioning egg to release. Estrogen decreases, and that can lead to mood disturbances.
While some women would opt for Hormone Replacement Therapy, alternative measures such as meditation have shown to reduce symptoms of depression, irritability, and anxiety in menopausal women.
In all phases and hormonal changes, self-care and positive support are essential. So, read your favorite book, dance to your groove, reach out to your friends, and go for whatever makes you happy!
Wondering if you have a hormone imbalance? Take my Hormone Quiz to find out. It’s simple and free. Just the touch of a click and I personally will read your answers and send you the feedback and my assessment of what’s up with your hormones!
Madz De Leon is a health professional with a Master’s degree who is a freelance writer and social media strategist. She loves doing yoga, belly dancing, and crocheting when she’s not busy running around with her active preschooler. You can see more of her work at //thewritestrategist.com.