Mental Disorders Caused Due to Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones play an important role in maintaining the well being of the brain and mind. And any imbalance in their (hormone) levels can adversely affect the functioning of the brain and the mind. Imbalances also lead to various neurotic disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder etc.
The Various Mental Disorders
Anxiety is one of the commonest symptoms of hormonal imbalance and it can be caused due to an imbalance in the level of various hormones.
Anxiety is common during menstruation, especially in the premenstrual phase. Changes in the level of female hormones, oestrogeri and progesterone play a key role in causing this. In addition, cortisol levels rise in days preceding the beginning of periods (premenstrual phase), which is also responsible for anxiety symptoms. In addition to anxiety, women with premenstrual syndrome can also have low mood and features of depression.
Anxiety is also more common during pregnancy. In addition, about 10 per cent of pregnant women may suffer panic attacks, Symptoms of panic attacks may include increase in heart rate, palpitations, breathing difficulty, choking sensation, difficulty in swallowing, sweating, etc. These symptoms are also due to rapid changes in levels of hormones in pregnancy.
Imbalance in thyroid hormones can also lead to anxiety attacks. Overproduction of thyroid hormones occurs in hyperthyroidism and anxiety is a common symptom in this condition. Palpitations and increased heart rate are also common.
Rare Endocrine Disorders
Anxiety and depression can be the presenting or sole symptom of pheochromocytoma too. This condition is characterized by a tumour in the adrenal gland (located above the kidneys), There is an excess production of catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline) which causes the anxiety. Many people who suffer with pheochromocytoma also have high blood pressure.
Depression can occur due to imbalance in several hormones which include the following:
Low oestrogen levels, especially in women after menopause can bring about feelings of depression and hopelessness. High oestrogen levels on the other hand, increases the levels of serotonin and endorphins, which are responsible for making one feel good.
Progesterone has a calming effect on the brain and promotes sleep. Abnormal levels of progesterone causes sleep disturbance and contributes to depression.
Cortisol levels are higher ¡n people who are depressed. In people who are not depressed, cortisol levels are higher ¡n the morning and decrease in the afternoon and evenings. However, the levels of cortisol do not fall (and remain high) during afternoons and evenings in those who are depressed. Chronic stress can also lead to high levels of cortisol.
Some of the natural ways to reduce stress (and thus cortisol levels) include meditation, relaxation for a few minutes, a massage, doing some artwork or doing something that you love, on a regular basis.
Serotonin levels are reduced in depression. Cortisol may also play a role in reducing serotonin levels. Many medications used to treat depression act by increasing the levels of serotonin. Some of the natural ways to boost serotonin levels include regular exercises, adequate sleep, exposure to light (preferably sunlight) and reducing coffee intake.
People with bipolar disorder experience mania (feeling elated, euphoric, restless, agitated, aggressive, and over-talkative) and depression at different times, Bipolar disorder affects both men and women equally. However, women tend to have more depression (as compared to men).
The hormonal basis of bipolar disorder comes from the fact that it is more common after menopause or pregnancy. Also, women with mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, tend to have more severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Memory loss is not just a part of getting older, hormonal imbalance too, plays a role in causing memory impairment. Occasional forgetting of names is normal. However, if someone starts forgetting daily appointments, or where they keep certain things, or if they do not remember the names of familiar people, it indicates a problem.
In women, oestrogen regulates the level of cortisol, which in turn helps in maintaining the normal levels of neurotransmitters responsible for good memory. After menopause, the oestrogen level falls and it is unable to efficiently regulate the cortisol. This results in malfunction of memory neurotransmitters in the brain.
Good nutrition, regular exercise and hormone replacement therapy can help in preventing memory loss due to hormonal imbalance.
This is the commonest psychotic illness. The incidence of schizophrenia is lower in women (as compared to men) between menarche and menopause. Alter menopause, both men and women suffer equally from psychosis. This has led to the belief that oestrogen in women protects against psychosis, leading to lower incidence of psychosis.
When it comes to the cause of mental disorders, the problem is not in the mind, but actually in an imbalance in the level of hormones.