In the United States alone, it is estimated that 15 million people suffer from some form of depression. Although medical experts admit that there is a litany of causes, it appears as if hormones play a major role in this condition. The endocrine system’s glands produce the chemical substances known as hormones which deliver messages to the body’s tissues and organs. This helps regulate the functions of these organs. The hormones produced by the body maintain a delicate balance and almost everything about the body’s functions is affected by these hormones, including physical development, energy levels, and mood.
According to the National Institutes of Health, hormones are extremely powerful and it only takes a small amount to make a huge change to the body. It appears that the hormone oxytocin, for example, makes us more trusting, maternal, and cooperative. Tests also show that testosterone can make us more self-serving and less cooperative, though it also enhances motivation, energy, self-confidence, and sexual drive. When hormone levels fluctuate or are over/under-produced, the messages sent by hormones become distorted. Due to the huge impact of hormones, even a slight change can cause complete chaos physically and mentally.
Women with high levels of sex hormones after menopause, such as testosterone and estrogen, carry an elevated risk of breast cancer. Those who produce excessive levels of human growth hormone may benefit from the slowing of the aging process and improved physical performance but they also increase their risk of heart disease.
One’s level of hormones can also be a factor in depression. It is also true that some depression symptoms are associated with thyroid problems. This is also the case when it comes to conditions relating to the menstrual cycle, such as menopause, perimenopause, and PMS. Due to the fact that certain medical conditions have similar symptoms to depression, blood tests are conducted to ensure the correct diagnosis is made.
Women are more likely to develop thyroid problems and also have a higher instance of depression. Due to biology, women are far more vulnerable to hormone-induced depression than men. During menstruation, a woman’s level of estrogen fluctuates and this leads to symptoms that include sadness, fatigue, and irritability, which are all PMS- and depression-related symptoms.
When the body is under strain, the stress hormone cortisol is produced more readily by the body and this can lead to obesity and depression. Studies have also shown that higher levels of leptin relieve anxiety, as this hormone has antidepressant qualities that have yet to be fully understood.
By balancing hormones, many people are no longer at the mercy of depression symptoms. Physicians often use various medications to treat depression when the best cure may well be hormone therapy. Since research has clearly shown a link between hormone imbalance/fluctuation and depression, it is clear that antidepressant treatments should move in this direction. With this knowledge, more patients suffering from depression will get the help they need to live full and happy lives.