Do you often find yourself feeling like you got up on the wrong side of the bed?
Fluctuating moods can completely change our experience of life, affecting not just how we feel about each and every day but also our relationships with those around us.
The relationship between our emotions and our hormones is symbiotic. Put simply, our hormones can affect our emotions and our emotions can affect our hormones. Let’s take a closer look at how this can affect us.
How your hormones affect your mood
There are certain hormones that can have a significant impact on how we feel. One you might be more familiar with is serotonin. Commonly referred to as our “happy hormone”, serotonin functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain and helps us to feel happy, calm and content. What you may not know about this lovely hormone is that up to 95% of it is made in our gut. It’s hard to feel great when you are suffering with digestive challenges!
Another hormone that can affect our mood is progesterone. When we think about progesterone, we might only think about the role it plays in our fertility but this powerful hormone has other biological functions in the body. Progesterone is a powerful anti-anxiety agent, an anti-depressant, and a diuretic, which means it helps us to eliminate excess fluid. It is supposed to be the dominant sex hormone in the second half of the menstrual cycle, but it’s common these days for women in their menstruation years to have too much estrogen and/or low progesterone levels, both of which disrupt hormonal balance and can contribute to mood swings, anxious feelings or feeling low. It’s also common for women to be churning out stress hormones, which can compromise adrenal production of progesterone—our primary source after menopause.
How your emotions affect your hormones
Our biochemistry is affected by how we think and feel. When we worry, fret or feel anxious or stressed, it has a flow-on effect to all of our body systems and can send our hormonal balance out of whack. This is because our body is wired to perceive stress as impending danger. It doesn’t understand that you’re feeling stressed because it takes so long to get the family out the door and now you’re late to your meeting, for example. To your body, stress—whether perceived (i.e. based on your thoughts) or real (i.e. based on actual physical danger)—means that your life is under threat.
Since your body’s primary objective is to preserve your life, it hijacks your biochemistry and sends messages to prioritise the production of stress hormones and vital processes over everything else. When we are churning out stress hormones, biochemical changes that lead to an increase in our blood glucose levels are triggered, as the body thinks it needs an ample supply of a fast burning fuel to allow us to fight or flee the danger it perceives we are in. So chronic stress may also contribute to the development of insulin resistance.
So how do we reduce the impact that stress has on our hormone balance? Quite simply we need to look at our stress response. Unless we stop our body from perceiving stress in everyday life, it is going to continue sending the message to our body to prioritise our survival and down regulate the function of other body systems, disrupting our hormonal symphony. A step in this direction might involve exploring our perception of pressure and urgency and saving it for when we really need it, rather than making what we get to do each day promote the stress response.
The Hormone Factor
Dr Libby has just released her 12th book The Beauty Guide, and is bringing her new live event, The Hormone Factor, to Auckland on the: 26 November
In the 2 hour event, Dr Libby will explore Ageing, Hormones, Emotions, Beauty & Biochemistry – (7pm–9am Ellerslie Event Centre, Auckland Racing Club), tickets are $39.95 from drlibby.com/events