Your hormones are little chemical messengers that tell your body to do certain processes. When they are out of balance it can have a knock on effect on all areas of your health; physical, emotional and mental, and your mood is a very common one to be affected.
MIND.org say that approx. 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer with mental health disorders, with anxiety and depression being the most common ones. Treatment is usually counselling, anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications but it’s important to look at the effects of other physiological changes and whether they are influencing you emotionally and mentally.
Anxiety, depression, low mood and mood swings are all symptoms of imbalances in your thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones. In this article I want to explore the common hormonal issues that may be affecting your mood and how that can be managed to lift your mood and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as giving you some tips on how you can help to balance out your hormones and boost your mood (and I know that’s what you really want to know).
1. Your Thyroid
Your thyroid hormones are released from a gland in your neck (not surprisingly called the thyroid) which not only controls your metabolism and your body temperature but also plays a vital part in your brain chemistry too. Women in their 40’s+ often experience a decline in their thyroid health which can lead to an underactive thyroid, where your thyroid isn’t producing hormones in the correct amounts, and that can lead to symptoms such as an inability to cope with stress and overwhelm, and feelings of anxiety, depression and severe mood swings.
2. The adrenal glands
The adrenal glands are responsible for controlling levels of stress in your body and in the western world, as mums, wives, colleagues and all the other roles we have to play, they are under more pressure than ever before. When you have chronic levels of stress in your life then it can lead to us not being able to produce adrenaline in the levels we require and release cortisol in levels that are unsustainable. Our adrenal hormones play a big part in controlling our mood and keeping the chemicals in our brain in balance, so to reduce the risk of anxiety and depression we need to ensure they are being produced in the right quantities.
3. Insulin Levels
I harp on about blood sugar balance all the time but that’s because it can make such a difference to how you feel. When you eat sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, your insulin kicks in to bring your blood sugar back down into balance. When this is a constant rollercoaster throughout the day it affects your energy levels and makes you just plain grumpy, and when this happens over a period of time it can make you feel very low.
4. Oestrogen / Progesterone Balance
A fall in oestrogen levels can cause changes in your mood, which explains why many women going through the menopause experience feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as severe mood swings.Low levels of progesterone also affects our mood and cause us to feel irritable, angry (raging — or maybe that’s just me!).
As our oestrogen also helps to increase our serotonin levels, responsible for making us feel good. Low levels can affect our mood (many anti-depressants are serotonin based) so working on balancing out our oestrogen levels and ensuring that it is working in the right ratio with progesterone can help to reduce the chance of us being affected by depression.
So, now we now WHY your hormones affect your mood, let’s have a look at what you can do to help balance them out so you can feel better emotionally and mentally.
– Eat a diet rich with real, natural whole foods. Focusing on proteins, healthy fats, fruit and vegetables to give our bodies all the vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally.
– Avoid sugary, processed foods and takeaways; they lack nutrients, are full of transfats and sugar has a negative effect on our blood sugar balance which can make symptoms worse.
– Eat plenty of healthy fats as they help to balance our hormones as well as supporting the chemicals in your brain. Avocados, nuts and seeds and their oils and butters, oily fish are all good options.
– Consider supplementing with herbs and nutrients. Personally I recommend the herb Agnus Castus (also know as Chaste Berry) that has a hormone balancing effect. I also like to use milk thistle to help with detoxification of the liver which is integral to helping us to excrete excess hormones. Evening primrose oil has a positive effect on mood and emotions as do Omega-3 or fish oils if you are not getting enough from your diet.
– Exercise is also helpful in boosting our endorphin levels and therefore our mood. It doesn’t have to be intensive; alot of women find a walk or bike ride helpful or doing some yoga as this also helps to relax and reconnect.
– Self care is also really important so if you are feeling low and emotional or suffering with depression and anxiety. Take a magnesium salt bath, read a book, watch your favourite film, go for a walk in the countryside, connect with a friend. Whatever makes you happy!
To find out how I can help you to manage your hormonal symptoms naturally, click here to book a Heal Your Hormones Strategy Call and see how I can support you in making the changes you need.