There’s a perception that depression is about feeling sad.
In fact, that’s often not the case at all. The term depression really relates to a dip in how your mind and body feels.
Consider these questions:
- Have you previously had hobbies and pass times that you no longer enjoy?
- Are you less tolerant of family members or people in general?
- Do you eat out of boredom or has your appetite disappeared?
- Do you struggle to get a good night’s sleep?
- Does your memory seem less reliable than it used to?
- Have you noticed your sex drive drop or disappear?
- Are you experiencing weight gain that you can’t seem to shift?
If the answer to one or more is yes, you might be experiencing depression. We’ll explain a little more about what depression is – and how balancing your hormones can be the key to feeling better again – quickly!
What is depression?
Depression occurs for different reasons – while it’s true that some significant life events can cause depression (such as the loss of a loved one, break down of a relationship, loss of employment, etc) hormone issues are a much more common cause.
To understand why, it’s important to understand how our hormones work. In essence, hormones are the chemical messengers that are prompted by one function in the body – with the task of getting another part of the body to respond.
Depression is often due to an impairment in this messenger/response function in your body. What’s more, a lot of these messages are your brain communicating with your body and visa versa – hence, if your hormones are out balance and not functioning well, your mood can feel impacted.
Which hormones are likely to cause depression?
Unfortunately, there’s no single hormone that’s to blame for depression symptoms – instead, there are a number that can impact your mood. Here’s an overview of the main three:
You might not realize it, but our bodies haven’t really caught up with our current way of life – technology moves a lot more quickly than evolution!
As such, we’re still equipped for living in days-gone-by where physical dangers were all around us – not least animals, aggression from other humans, immediate environmental dangers – and so forth.
We’re still programmed for ‘fight or flight’ – and in the face of stress or danger, we produce the hormones‘Cortisol’ and ‘Adrenaline’, which can cause restlessness, anxiety, sleeplessness and other now non-essential (and frankly annoying) responses in our body.
Our bodies also don’t differentiate between levels of dangers, so we’ll often feel the same symptoms walking into an interview as we would be entering a lion enclosure! More commonly, stress hormones are constant in our bodies in reaction on on-going low levels of stress throughout our life – leaving our mood impacted by forgetfulness, low sex drive, lack of appetite, a decrease in focus and less joy doing things we’ve previously enjoyed.
Reduced ‘feel good’ hormones
There are two important hormones produced by our brain – ‘Serotonin’ and ‘Dopamine’ – also known as ‘the feel good hormones’. They’re the ones that are released when we hug a loved one, watch a feel good movie, make love or take part in some enjoyable exercise – among other things.
These are very much ‘use them or lose them’ hormones – so the more absorbed we become with work and other daily stresses and strains, the less likely we are to take part in feel good hormone boosting activities.
When the brain slows serotonin and dopamine production we naturally don’t feel as good, meaning you’re less likely to want to take part in these positive things – the start of a vicious cycle, but one many people find themselves in.
Thyroid related hormones
Your thyroid gland sits in the middle of your neck and controls the hormones ‘Thyroxine’ and ‘Triiodothyronine’ – both of which essentially balance a number of your bodily functions. An imbalance in these thyroid related hormones can have a similar effect to excess amounts of stress hormones, including:
- Mood swings
- Memory lapses
- Reduced concentration
Again, when these symptoms feature in your life, you’re far less likely to engage in the joyful life activities that counteract negative feelings with feel good hormones.
How to balance your hormones and mood
If you’re unsure about your hormone levels, it can sometimes be worth having tests done to establish your exact levels and how your mood may be impacted as a result.
Secondly, it’s vital that you understand you’re not abnormal in feeling the way you do. Hormone imbalances are likely to impact everyone’s life to some degree – and there are ways you can combat the symptoms – starting today.
Understand that it’s going to be a little difficult getting out of the dip in body and mood that you’ve found yourself in – but the results can happen quickly. Start by getting outside, exposing yourself to some daylight and taking a walk, starting to stimulate those feel good hormones.
If possible, look at reducing the levels of sugar and simple carbohydrates you have in your daily diet, doing so can lead to a more balanced blood sugar level – which in turn can help balance your hormone levels and mood.
Mindfulness and yoga are also excellent exercises to help calm your mind and be a little more aware of your moods too. Remember, these negative feeling won’t last forever – and even if it’s just a little each day, you can engage in small activities that will help you feel better.