Female Sex Hormones
Estrogen is a hormone which plays a role in many processes in the body, including breast development, pregnancy, menstrual cycles, and mood. Estrogen affects serotonin, a chemical in our brains and bodies, known as a neurotransmitter, which influences mood, behavior, appetite, sexual function and digestion. In addition, there are estrogen receptors in the brain, in an area called the amygdala, which is largely responsible for emotional memories and mood.
Women are more likely to suffer from depression and/or anxiety during times of estrogen fluctuations such as premenstrual, postpartum, and peri-menopause. A drop in estrogen, which occurs before the menstrual cycle, after childbirth, and during menopause, causes shifts in the production of neurotransmitters.
It is essential to have the proper levels and the right ratios of hormones and neurotransmitters, which means, a sudden drop or increase in either is very destabilizing on the body. Women’s bodies are designed to have fluctuations in hormones every month with menstrual cycles, and with pregnancy, but when changes are too extreme, it can result in adverse symptoms, including depressed mood and anxiety.
In addition to estrogen, another hormone, progesterone, fluctuates during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, and a steep drop off of progesterone is associated with anxiety and depression. Progesterone is known as the calming and relaxing hormone, as it causes an increase of a neurotransmitter, GABA, which has a slowing and calming effect on the brain. It is therefore common to experience anxiety, as well as trouble sleeping, when progesterone levels are out of balance.
Proper metabolism and synthesis of hormones require complex biochemical processes that require specific nutrients and minerals. It is therefore essential to support these processes with a nutrient-rich diet and in some cases, nutritional supplementation. Working with our Doctors can help guide you to balance your hormones.