Lifestyle

What Are Mood Stabilizing Hormones?‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎

The healthy balance of mood stabilizing hormones like cortisol, serotonin and thyroid are crucial to whole body wellbeing.
Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Nayan Patel

When you think of the glue that holds your well-being together, you may think of a healthy diet, exercise routine, and good sleep. While those are all key pillars of wellness, the real key to health is what those lifestyle choices support: hormonal balance.

Hormonal imbalances can cause people to experience physical symptoms like weight gain, digestive issues, and PMS, but they can also have far-reaching effects on emotional and mental health. Feelings like stress, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and frustration can all be linked to hormonal changes.

You don’t have to live like this forever, though. There is hope, and you can find help with Thrivelab. Follow along to learn more about hormones and how they can affect your mood.

What Are Hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by glands in the endocrine system. They are released into the bloodstream to regulate various bodily functions, which can include growth and development, metabolism, reproduction, and mood.

Hormones are secreted in response to various signals, such as stress, changes in blood sugar levels, and changes in light. Some hormones have short-term effects, while others have more long-term effects.

Examples of hormones include:

  • Insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels
  • Testosterone and estrogen, which play a role in sexual development and function
  • Cortisol, which is involved in the body's stress response

Hormones also play an important role in regulating mood by affecting the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which are involved in emotional processing. For example, the hormones serotonin and dopamine are also neurotransmitters that help regulate mood and emotions, and low levels of these hormones can contribute to an increased risk of mental illness.

Imbalances in hormone levels can affect the levels of these neurotransmitters, leading to changes in mood and emotional stability. For example, low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression. Likewise, high levels of cortisol, the hormone released during times of stress, can lead to anxiety and mood disorders.

In addition to affecting neurotransmitter levels, hormones can also impact the brain's response to stress and emotional stimuli. For instance, the hormone oxytocin promotes feelings of bonding and social connection, while cortisol can interfere with the brain's ability to regulate emotions and respond to stress.

Overall, hormones play a crucial role in regulating mood and emotional well-being by influencing the chemical and neural processes underlying our emotional experiences.

What Are Mood-Stabilizing Hormones?

While there is no single hormone that is responsible for stabilizing mood, there are several hormones that play a role in regulating mood. By learning more about these hormones, you can learn how to make lifestyle choices and pursue complementary therapies that can help you get back on track.

1. Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating mood, among other functions. It's often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter because it's associated with feelings of happiness, contentment, and well-being. Serotonin is produced in the brain and can help regulate many bodily processes, including sleep, appetite, and digestion.

One of the main ways that serotonin contributes to mood stabilization is through its effects on the brain's emotional processing centers. Serotonin helps to regulate the activity of these areas, which can help you have a more stable mood.

Serotonin also helps regulate the body's stress response. When we experience stress, the body releases hormones like cortisol, which can cause physical and emotional symptoms like anxiety. Serotonin can help regulate the release of cortisol, which can reduce the likelihood of stress-related symptoms and improve your mood.

Imbalances in serotonin levels may be linked to mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Low levels of serotonin are often associated with depression, while higher levels have been linked to feelings of well-being and happiness.

Because of serotonin’s role in regulating mood, many people with depressive disorders are prescribed mood-stabilizing medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications can help influence serotonin receptors, which can help improve your mood and quality of life.

2. Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in our moods, as well as other functions such as movement control and motivation. In terms of mood stabilization, dopamine can also help regulate the brain’s emotional processing centers, helping you feel more relaxed and happy.

Dopamine is produced in various parts of the brain and works by transmitting signals between neurons, which can affect mood and behavior.

Research has shown that imbalances in dopamine levels can contribute to mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. Low levels of dopamine have been linked to feelings of sadness and low mood, while high levels have been linked to feelings of euphoria and excitement.

Dopamine is also involved in reward processing, which can contribute to feelings of pleasure and happiness. When we engage in activities that we enjoy or that provide a sense of accomplishment, our brains release dopamine, which rewards us for doing an activity and encourages us to do it again.

3. Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress. It's often referred to as the "stress hormone" because it's involved in the body's response to stressful situations. While cortisol is essential for our survival and helps us deal with stress, chronically high levels of cortisol can have negative effects on mood and emotional health.

Normal cortisol levels can help increase energy levels, improve cognitive function, and improve mood. However, when cortisol levels remain high for an extended period, it can lead to a range of negative effects, including mood changes, low libido, and insomnia.

4. Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid hormones are crucial for regulating many bodily functions, including metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. However, they also help support a balanced mood.

Thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid gland and are involved in regulating the body's energy levels. When thyroid hormone levels are low, you may notice symptoms like fatigue or tiredness, weight gain, and low mood. This is because thyroid hormones play a key role in regulating the production and uptake of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are essential for mood and emotional well-being.

In addition to regulating neurotransmitters, thyroid hormones can also affect the function of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which are involved in regulating the body's stress response. An imbalance in thyroid hormone levels can lead to an overactive or underactive stress response, which can contribute to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Thyroid hormone imbalances can occur for a variety of reasons, including autoimmune disorders, medication side effects, and nutrient deficiencies. Treatment for thyroid hormone imbalances typically involves bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, which can help regulate your thyroid hormone levels and improve your mood.

5. Sex Hormones

While sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone may be closely related to puberty and sexual function, they can also affect your mental health.

Estrogen is a hormone that plays a vital role in regulating mood, and decreased levels of estrogen can lead to mood swings, irritability, and depression. This is why mood swings are common symptoms of menopause.

Progesterone is another hormone that can have a significant impact on mood, and low levels can cause mood swings, anxiety, and irritability. This is often the culprit behind the mood fluctuations you may experience with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). 

Dr. Bimisa Augusin, one of our healthcare providers, shares that “... in my clinic, some of the secondary issues [of] depleted progesterone are things like cardiovascular issues, depression, [and] anxiety. I mean, there are plenty of patients that have actually come off of their anti-anxiety medications just because their progesterone was low.”

Testosterone is a hormone often associated with male characteristics, but it's also present in women in smaller amounts. Decreased levels of testosterone can cause women to experience fatigue, decreased libido, and mood swings. 

In fact, the symptoms of low testosterone and depression are often so similar that Katie Jo Dixon, one of our RNs, often sees them being confused. She says, “My female clients will tell me, ‘I went to my doctor, and I was prescribed an antidepressant. I was prescribed Zoloft or Prozac.’ And we know that these symptoms aren't related to a Prozac deficiency, they're related to a testosterone deficiency.”

What Are the Symptoms of Hormone Imbalances?

Hormone imbalances can also have significant effects on emotional and mental wellness, leading to a range of symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety, nervousness, and feelings of panic.
  • Symptoms of depression, low mood, and feelings of hopelessness.
  • Mood swings, ranging from irritability and anger to sadness and despair. These mood swings can be rapid and severe.
  • Fatigue, drowsiness, lethargy, and a lack of motivation.
  • Insomnia, disrupted sleep patterns, and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and forgetfulness.
  • Decrease in sex drive and sexual function.
  • Irritability, impatience, and a short temper.
  • Decreased self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and negative self-talk.

Many of these symptoms can also be signs of a mental health disorder. If you’re experiencing any of these emotional symptoms, it’s important to visit a qualified and empathetic provider like our professionals here at Thrivelab. 

They can test your hormone levels to see whether or not your hormones could be contributing to your symptoms. If they suspect another mental health condition, your provider can help guide you toward resources and the next steps.

Hormonal imbalances often have physical symptoms, too. 

If you notice changes in your mental health as well as some of these physical symptoms, then you may want to schedule an appointment with one of our Thrivelab providers:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • PMS
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Hair loss
  • Acne
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Weight gain

How Can You Balance Mood-Stabilizing Hormones?

There are plenty of ways you can support hormonal balance. While all of these tips may seem overwhelming, just remember to focus on one at a time. Even making one small change in one part of your life can help support your hormonal health. 

Here are some of the best ways to support your hormone balance:

  1. Maintain a healthy diet: A diet that is rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources, can help support hormone balance and stabilize mood. Eating a balanced diet and taking dietary supplements can also help prevent nutrient deficiencies that can contribute to mood swings.
  2. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise has been shown to help stabilize mood by increasing the release of mood-enhancing hormones such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
  3. Manage stress: Stress can disrupt hormone balance and contribute to mood swings. Strategies such as meditation, deep breathing, and regular relaxation practices can help manage stress and promote hormone balance.
  4. Get enough sleep: Sleep plays an important role in hormone regulation and mood stabilization. Getting adequate sleep can help prevent imbalances in hormones such as cortisol, which can contribute to mood swings and anxiety.
  5. Seek medical treatment: While maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help support hormone balance and improve mood, it’s also important to speak with a hormone specialist. Here at Thrivelab, we don’t just want to treat your symptoms — we want to get to the root cause so that you can feel happy, healthy, and whole. 

What Is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a treatment option that involves replacing hormones that the body is no longer producing enough of on its own. To help regulate your mood, BHRT can be used to replace hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormones, which can have a significant impact on mood and emotional health.

By supporting your body’s hormones and restoring hormonal balance, you can get to the root cause of your mood swings and irritability. Your Thrivelab provider can help you not only achieve hormonal balance but also maintain it through BHRT and lifestyle changes.

During your first visit, your Thrivelab provider will conduct an assessment to help them determine if you have any hormonal imbalances. This will likely include some questions about your medical history and some lab work.

If your clinician identifies a hormonal imbalance, they may prescribe BHRT to help address the root cause of your symptoms. As you start to feel better, they may move you to lower doses to help you maintain your progress.

Stabilize Your Mood With Thrivelab

Hormone imbalances cause many women to feel out of control of their bodies and emotions. It can be frustrating when you’re doing everything you can to take care of yourself, yet your hormones still seem to have a mind of their own. It’s important to take care of yourself and to take things one day at a time.

Take the first step toward hormonal wellness with Thrivelab. Our providers are here to answer any questions you may have and help you get back to enjoying the life you love. To learn more about hormonal wellness, visit our blog and browse our podcasts.

References

  1. Hormonal Imbalances | Cleveland Clinic 
  2. Thyroid hormones, serotonin and mood: of synergy and significance in the adult brain | PMC
  3. Physiology, Cortisol - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf
  4. Dopamine System Dysregulation in Major Depressive Disorders | PMC
  5. The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence | Molecular Psychiatry
  6. Menopause & Hormones: Common Questions | FDA
References

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