Estrogen and progesterone are the major sex hormones in women. Estrogen is responsible for the development of women’s reproductive system and physical attributes. The hormone is also produced in men, but in smaller amounts. It is responsible for the development of a girl into a woman.
During puberty, estrogen promotes the growth of breasts, pubic and underarm hair and offsets the menstrual cycle. The right amount of estrogen in the body plays a critical role in a woman’s body. Therefore, an imbalance in either excesses or lows can impair your health. Here are the three ways estrogen can affect your mental health:
Top 3 Ways Estrogen Hormone Can Affect Your Emotions
1. Mood Swings
Estrogen can affect your mood swings. It can increase beta-endorphins, acetylcholine and serotonin levels in your body. The neurotransmitters are associated with positive moods and good-feeling states. They promote the development of new brain synapses, leading to increased brain-derived growth factor and 5 HT2a receptors.
The hormone also decreases monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzyme levels to increase or maintain high dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Studies have linked low estrogen levels to panic attacks. Women may experience anxiety, depression and mood swings as they approach menopause due to low estrogen levels in their bodies.
Depression during menopause can be addressed through hormonal balancing instead of using antidepressant medications.
2. Premenstrual Symptom (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Many women experience unpleasant symptoms prior to their menstrual periods. Premenstrual symptom is when the symptoms are so severe that they interfere with your quality of life. They occur just before your menses days and subside after your period.
PMS doesn’t occur any other time except when your menses are due and cause you personal problems in your relationships, at work or school. They also occur when nothing else is to blame for the occurrence of the symptoms.
Swelling of legs and arms, bloating and tenderness of your breasts are the physical symptoms of PMS. Depression, feeling emotional, irritability, anger, anxiety and withdrawing socially are other symptoms of PMS.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is typical of negative mood symptoms before your menses. It’s a severe form of PMS with mood symptoms more severe than physical symptoms. PDD affects 3% to 9% of women and can impair your daily life. Although estrogen is believed to be responsible for the mood disturbances, its exact role is still unknown.
Since estrogen levels in women with PMS and PDD are normal, it could be the way the hormone communicates with the brain or the normal fluctuation of the hormone during menstruation that causes the symptoms.
Depression is another effect of estrogen deficiencies on mental health in women. Estrogen levels drop after delivery and it could be the cause of postpartum depression among new mothers within the first six months after childbirth. Therapy and antidepressants can help treat postpartum depression.
Estrogen levels during perimenopause are unpredictable and erratic, leading to depression in about 10% of women undergoing the change. Transdermal estrogen patches can help balance hormone levels to help ease depression.
After menopause, estrogen levels drop significantly, leading to depression. Taking placebo and hormonal replacement therapy don’t seem to ease menopausal depression as women in a large trial experienced similar mental health. The levels of depression in women drop after menopause to a level similar to that of men.
Contact us to find out more on how estrogen deficiency can affect your health and what you can do about it.