Is Your Depression a Result of Hormonal Imbalance?

Does This Sound Familiar?

Patient: “I’m just so tired all the time, and I feel anxious for no reason doc.”
Doctor: “you may just be a little depressed…here’s a prescription.”

prescribing antidepressant to womanAccording to a government study, antidepressants are prescribed more than drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, or headaches. They are the most prescribed drugs in the country!  Women in their 40s and 50s are the highest user group and women are also 2 times more likely to be taking an antidepressant than men.

Why would this be?

Doctors are prescribing these drugs in record numbers to people (mostly women) as a band-aid for a multitude of symptoms. This is not to say that the doctors are complicit in “bad medicine”, but this is simply what they are taught in medical school, which are largely funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

Why Do So Many People Experience Depression?

Most doctors would have you believe that your sex hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, are just for reproductive purposes. But that can’t be farther from the truth!  The truth is that our hormones play a role in virtually every process in the body, including the function of your organs, your metabolic functions, and even your mood.

Our hormones travel throughout our circulatory system looking for their target receptor which can be located in virtually any cell in the body, including in your brain. In this way, hormones are the body’s way of communicating with itself. Therefore, if any of your hormones are deficient or excessive, then this could throw off the balance and a host of symptoms can begin to appear…including depression and anxiety.

In a perfect world our hormones would remain in balance, but unfortunately, our modern lifestyles that include excessive amounts of stress, inadequate sleep, birth control pills, processed foods, pesticides, environmental toxins, and so many other factors, have led us to become unbalanced as a population.

What About Depression in Men?

Man in AndropauseAlthough depression is more common in women, men are not exempt from hormone-related depression. Men usually begin to experience a decline in their moods as they approach mid-life due to a decline in their testosterone level (called Andropause).  In general, men tend to be easier to diagnose and to treat, mainly because men are not subject to both monthly fluctuations in hormones, birth control pills, or the more dramatic decline in hormones experienced during pregnancy and menopause.

How Do Our Hormones Affect Our Moods?

ESTROGEN 

Estrogen helps to improve your mood via its effect on serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is active in the brain. Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping, as well as affecting how you experience pain. Estrogen, however, helps in the formation of serotonin, bringing it back to optimal levels.

PROGESTERONE

Progesterone has a very calming effect. It affects the GABA receptors in the brain, calming you and helping you to sleep. Natural progesterone, in general, can also help alleviate mood swings, irritability, and depression.

TESTOSTERONE 

Testosterone helps with one’s sense of well-being and self-confidence, which are important aspects to a positive mood. In fact, depression and anxiety are well-known symptoms of low testosterone.

CORTISOL

Cortisol is also known as “the stress hormone”.  When your body experiences consistently elevated levels of cortisol, it can deplete the adrenal glands. If they don’t have a chance to recover, your cortisol levels remain low even when stress is present. During this state, which is known as adrenal fatigue, you may experience many mood-related symptoms, including depression, anxiety, insomnia and difficulty handling stress.

THYROID 

Thyroid hormones are also important to your mood. Depression is a well-known symptom of hypothyroidism.

So what are the symptoms?

Woman in balanceHormonal imbalance, which can include one or many of our hormones, can manifest itself in a multitude of ways. Each person’s list of symptoms can vary. For example, I may see one patient who has fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, and depression, and another patient who has fatigue and depression but does not have an issue with weight or sleep. However, both are experiencing hormonal imbalance. This is because we are all unique and it is this uniqueness that throws many doctors for a loop.

Understanding this concept of uniqueness in my patients is a critical component to not only diagnosing them but also how I treat them. Every person has their own “OPTIMAL” range when it comes to their hormones. Unfortunately, conventional medicine wants to put us all into a little box they call the “Normal Range”.  The problem with this is that the range is so wide that you may still be in the range, yet feel horrible because your personal range where you are optimal is much higher.

Treating Depression with Bio-identical Hormones

I treat my patients with bio-identical hormones. If you are not familiar with bio-identical hormones, the easiest way I can describe them is by comparing them to a lock and key. If you recall I mentioned our body has receptor sites all throughout to receive our hormones. Your hormones are like the key and your receptors are like the lock. Bio-identical hormones are biologically identical to what our bodies produce naturally, so our receptors are able to recognize them. They fit together perfectly like a lock and key.

Bio-identical hormones are not the same thing as conventional, drug hormones. For a drug to be patented it can not exist in nature naturally. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies must create a substance that is foreign to your body so that they can get a patent and market it to you and your physician. You may have heard that hormones can cause cancer or other major health issues, however, this only pertains to the synthetic, drug hormones. Bio-identical hormones, when prescribed in physiologically appropriate doses, are actually protective against cancer.

To sum it up, your depression may be caused by your hormones.

If you are currently taking an antidepressant, never stop an antidepressant medicine without first talking to a healthcare provider. My mission is to educate and help as many people to restore their balance naturally and to regain their vitality. You can get your life back, but it all starts with making the choice to seek help beyond what “traditional” medicine has to offer. A great place to start is by taking my free hormone quiz. This is a free self-assessment you can take online to see if your symptoms indicate a hormonal imbalance. If you struggle with depression or anxiety and would like to talk to us about your options, we would love to speak with you. Give us a call at (281) 313-7435 or schedule a complimentary consultation.

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Posted in: Anxiety / Depression, Bioidentical Hormone, Brain Health, Estrogen Dominance, Hormone Imbalance, Menopause, Wellness


Responses:

  1. Can bio identical progesterone (prometrium) be taken alone , or must it be taken with bio identical estrogen (Estrogel)

    Comment by Christine on January 2, 2017 at 1:43 pm

  2. Prometrium is actually not bio-identical. Progesterone should be compounded and ideally as a cream since it does not have to pass through the liver and the dose can be much lower, which can also cause unwanted metabolites at higher doses. However, yes Progesterone can be taken without Estrogen but not the other way around as it can lead to Estrogen Dominance. Estrogen Dominance can leas to various unwanted symptoms and even cancers including breast cancer, and in women with a uterus can lead to endometrial hyperplasia. Hope this helps. You can read more about Estrogen Dominance here: http://www.drshel.com/blog/bioidentical-hormone/estrogen-dominance-clarified/

    Comment by editor on January 2, 2017 at 4:42 pm

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