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The Mind-Body Connection: How Hormones Impact Our Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors


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How Hormones Impact Our Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors


Alright - here's a quick paragraph in science-y lingo. Just so we can get an understanding of what hormones are before we dive in to how they can affect your moods.


Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced by the endocrine glands. Endocrine glands include the thyroid gland, adrenal glands and ovaries. Hormones travel through the bloodstream to reach target organs such as the brain and ovaries where they have an effect on various functions such as metabolism, moods, sexual function and menstrual cycle.


One of my favorite explanations for hormones and the endocrine system is located here https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/endocrine.html

It is written for kids but it makes a complex system easy to digest - I would definitely recommend skimming that.


Alright now that we are done with that - lets dive into the hormones that may be at the wheel of your emotional roller-coaster.


How Hormones Impact Our Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors


Estrogen

Estrogen is a hormone that plays an important role in reproductive functions, bone health and metabolism, fat distribution, hair growth, skin elasticity and puberty. It can also cause mood swings and acne.


Estrogen, in a balanced hormonal environment supports serotonin (the feel good chemicals in our brain) and our endorphins. In other words - estrogen can help us feel good. Whereas, low estrogen can make you feel sad, anxious, or frustrated.


Estrogen and testosterone are often considered female and male hormones. But men and women have and need estrogen and testosterone - Too much or too little can cause problems.


Progesterone

Progesterone is the hormone that helps you feel calm, relaxed and positive. It's also called the cuddle hormone because it can make you want to snuggle up with your partner or friends.

Progesterone works in tandem with estrogen to create well-being. Too much or too little of either and the host will experience aggression, irritability, and fatigue.


Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone that regulates reproductive system, muscle mass and hair growth. It also affects emotional well-being, moods and energy levels.


Testosterone levels decline with age in women as well as men, but the drop is more pronounced in women because of their lower baseline levels.


Low testosterone levels can cause fatigue or trouble concentrating. Stress and poor diet are environmental causes for low testosterone levels.


Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid hormones are essential for regulating metabolism, so it's no surprise that hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) can lead to depression and anxiety.

Low thyroid hormone levels can also cause fatigue, weight gain, muscle weakness and pain. Medications like lithium and birth control pills can interfere with your body's ability to make thyroid hormones; if you're taking these medications or supplements that contain iodine (like kelp), talk with your doctor about how they might affect your thyroid function before taking any additional steps toward improving it.


Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that helps regulate stress. It's also responsible for storing fat, which is why you might notice weight gain when you're under stress.

Cortisol levels are highest during periods of intense activity, such as during exercise or when you're experiencing high anxiety--like when you have an important meeting at work or an exam coming up at school. If your cortisol levels remain high over time, however, it can lead to symptoms like fatigue and depression.


What hormones fluctuate with the menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle is regulated by a number of different hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone.


Estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, with estrogen levels increasing during the follicular phase and progesterone levels increasing during the luteal phase.


a graph of the menstrual cycle including hormones

During the luteal phase of your cycle. Your progesterone levels will increase and then decrease as you get closer to the menstrual phase. This can cause symptoms we know to be PMS - irritability, anxiety, general mood swings. - If these symptoms are impacting your day-to-day life, you should see a doctor.




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