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The Truth About Hormones and Mood Swings

A hormone is a chemical released into the bloodstream that sends out messages that affect the cellular behavior of the rest of the organism in which they are being released. It only takes a small amount of hormone to alter cellular behavior which is why it is critical for women to maintain proper hormone levels.

Hormones that Affect Mood Swings

Women’s bodies go through a variety of transitions that can contribute to mood swings including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum
  • Menstruation cycle
  • Perimenopause (pre-menopause)
  • Menopause

These transitions can cause hormone levels that affect mood to shift drastically resulting in periods of elation and depression. Many times behavior and emotions will stabilize after the transition has run its course.

Hormones that Affect Mood Swings

There are dozens of hormones in the body but not all have an effect on mood. The hormones that can cause mood swings include:

  • Estrogen – Estrogen plays a major role in mood stability because of its ability to increase serotonin and endorphins in the body. Proper levels of these substances decrease MAO enzymes that can cause depression. Research conducted by John Hopkins University has shown that women who have low estrogen levels have increased rates of clinical depression and anxiety attacks.
  • Progesterone – Progesterone has a calming effect on the body and is highly concentrated in the brain. Studies have shown a link between insomnia, depression, and anxiety progesterone deficiency.
  • Testosterone – Women have about 10% the amount of testosterone in their bodies as men. Nonetheless it is still an important hormone that regulates libido (sex drive), bone and muscle mass and overall mood. Low testosterone in women can decrease sex drive and cause mood swings.
  • Cortisol – Cortisol is released into the body during times of stress. It has many benefits such as increased awareness, elevated tolerance to pain, and decreased fatigue. A person who is exposed to high levels of stress over time can have too much cortisol in their bloodstream which has harmful side effects that contribute to heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Hormones play an important role in mood swings and can be controlled through a variety of methods such as diet, exercise, sleep, mental health therapy and medication. If mood swings are uncontrollable and erratic a physician should be seen immediately to develop a treatment plan.

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