Why hormones can make you stressed, tired and experience cravings
Hormones are important, powerful chemicals you make in your body to keep it working well. When your hormones are balanced, your mood is generally good. When they’re not in balance, you may feel stressed or tired and have food cravings. However, hormone levels fluctuate all the time in both men and women.
Common hormones are known as gonadal hormones, meaning they’re made by the ovaries and testes. These include estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Other hormones that affect your mood include adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, cortisol and melatonin.
There are various other hormones made in glands throughout your body. Many hormones affect your mood. They also affect growth, hunger, immune system health, cell reproduction and other functions.
What changes hormone levels?
Hormone levels change throughout your lifetime. These changes can cause moods to fluctuate. Your hormones shift noticeably during these times:
- Puberty: when hormones surge through your body
- Reproductive years: when PMS and menstruation can make you moody
- Pregnancy: when hormones need to be delicately balanced
- Childbirth: which causes wild fluctuations in hormones and moods
- Perimenopause: when egg production dwindles
- Menopause and post-menopause: when hormones dwindle
Staying healthy helps you balance your hormones and elevate your mood.
What creates hormone imbalances?
You’re at risk for having hormonal imbalances and moodiness during adolescence, pregnancy and menopause. Other conditions can lead to hormonal imbalances, such as:
- Chronic stress
- Going through chemotherapy
- Hyper- and hypoglycemia
- Low body weight
- Poor nutrition
- Thyroid issues
You’re also at risk of going through hormonal imbalances and mood shifts if you have cancer or other diseases.
Symptoms of changing hormone levels
Women experience a variety of symptoms that indicate hormonal imbalances, such as:
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Night sweats
- Tender breasts
- Painful periods
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal discomfort
- Constant fatigue and memory fog
These symptoms often result in mood changes. Estrogen is a main hormone that affects a woman’s mood. A drop in estrogen levels may cause depression after childbirth. It also may cause depression during perimenopause, which is the time right before menopause starts. Low estrogen can also cause severe premenstrual symptoms and mood changes.
Men also have symptoms of hormonal imbalances. Men are more likely to have shifts in their testosterone levels. As a result, men may have symptoms like reduced libido, lower muscle mass, body hair growth and breast tenderness.
Diagnosis of hormone levels
A gynecologist or endocrinologist can diagnose your hormone levels at any age. You’ll have your blood drawn in a lab and tested for hormone levels. This can help you find out if you’re going through early menopause or approaching menopause.
Treatments for hormone levels
There are many medical treatment options to balance hormone levels or regulate your moods. Some are controversial and risky. Treatments may depend on your age, your goals and if your moods affect the quality of your life. Medical treatments may include these options:
- Anti-anxiety medication taken for a short period can ease symptoms of hormonal imbalances.
- Thyroid hormone treatment can counteract anxiety and physical symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Hormone therapy can help with hormone deficiencies that unbalance your moods and create physical symptoms.
- Adrenal support vitamins strengthen your adrenal gland so it can make adequate amounts of cortisol to help you respond to stress.
Have a gynecologist or endocrinologist do treatments. These specialists know how the glands that produce hormones help your body work better.
Recovery from hormone levels
Recovering from hormone imbalances takes more than taking medication. You need to monitor your hormones per your doctor’s instructions. There are other things you can do to stabilize your hormones and moods, too. These include eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and getting enough sleep. Limit smoking, caffeine and alcohol. These habits result in lack of sleep, causing additional hormone and mood changes.
Do you want to understand more about how your hormone levels affect your moods? Reach out to your physician today.