How many times have you heard an emotional woman say that they are “just feeling hormonal”? While it is true that hormones can affect everyone’s moods, it seems to be more significant in women. If you are having difficulty dealing with your moods, a hormonal imbalance may be one of the causes. There are certain times in a woman’s life when hormone levels fluctuate more than others. These include the weeks prior to monthly menstruation, during and after pregnancy, and during menopause. Overall, there are three times in a women’s life when she is truly miserable: premenstrual, perimenopause, and menopause. These are all times when estrogen and serotonin is low. Many people don’t know that when a women’s estrogen is low then serotonin becomes lower as well.
Many women experience their first taste of mood swings in their late teens or early 20s as a result of their monthly menstrual cycle. Premenstrual stress (PMS) refers to the symptoms experienced one to two weeks before a woman’s monthly period. In addition to the physical symptoms like cramping, breast tenderness and bloating, PMS can cause fatigue, changes in appetite, irritability, anxiety, and depression. In the days before a woman’s menstrual cycle, estrogen levels fluctuate by going up and down. These changes in estrogen levels are likely to blame for mood swings women feel. Thankfully, these symptoms usually dissipate once menstruation starts.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a more severe form of PMS that can cause clinical depression, extreme moodiness, high anxiety, and marked irritability or anger. Frequently, PMDD requires treatment to help minimize the symptoms such as medication, birth control pills, exercise, or dietary changes. It can be helpful to review severe PMS symptoms with your doctor.
Hormone changes that occur during pregnancy frequently cause mood swings and other physical symptoms. These can be confusing for many expectant mothers who are typically excited about having a baby. But the mood swings can go from happiness, to crying, to feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Mood swings are most exaggerated during the first and third trimesters. During pregnancy, the changes in metabolism, estrogen and progesterone levels can affect the brain neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Relaxin, prolactin and oxytocin are additional hormones secreted during pregnancy to prepare a woman’s body for delivery and breast feeding. It’s important to talk to your doctor about any mood swings you are having during pregnancy because they can be caused by other physical causes that may require treatment.
After a woman has a baby, she experiences a new set of hormone changes. Almost immediately after delivery, progesterone levels usually return to pre-pregnancy levels while estrogen remains elevated. This condition is called estrogen dominance and can also lead to adrenal fatigue. While settling into motherhood it is completely normal to feel strong emotions including inexplicable crying outbursts on occasion, irritability, and fatigue from lack of sleep. But it is also important to be aware of serious postpartum mood swings that prevent you from connecting with your newborn, sleeping, eating or being able to function in a normal way. Contact your doctor if you have any concerns about your postpartum feelings or physical symptoms.
Menopause is the natural decline in a woman’s reproductive organs and is the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles. A few years before menopause, called perimenopause, women’s estrogen levels begin to decline all the way in to when menopause sets in. This decrease in estrogen can cause some women to feel like they are in a constant state of PMS. Researchers have found that mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain are linked to hormone levels and that hormone levels can alter a women’s general sense of wellbeing.
Irritability and sadness are common mood shifts associated with menopause. These mood symptoms can include minor feelings of tearfulness to complete “flying off the handle,” as some women report. Night sweats are a primary problem during menopause that can cause sleep deprivation. This then leads to fatigue and irritability. Lack of sleep and overall tiredness can cause feelings of depression, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. Hormones such as insulin, cortisol, leptin, and ghrelin are all linked to the quality of your sleep. When possible, stick to a scheduled waking time and bedtime. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can help normalize your sleep patterns and help you feel more rested.
Minimizing mood swings during menopause can also be achieved through exercise, eating enough protein, avoiding sugar and high fat foods, and hormone treatment. With bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, you can find out which hormones are out of balance and take the necessary supplements to balance them out. Bioidentical hormones are identical to the hormones which are produced naturally in your body. They are so identical, in fact, that your body can’t distinguish the difference. They have an identical molecular structure to the hormones that your body produces, making them safe and indistinguishable from your real hormones. Many women can benefit from this natural and holistic approach to hormone therapy.
With the use of hormone replacement therapy, you can improve your hormone levels and start to notice improved moods. Because there are so many hormones that affect your mood, it is important to know the source of the issue. At The Riegel Center, we will first do an initial consultation with you to determine all of your concerns. Once we have done that, we will schedule blood work for you so that we can find out which hormones are imbalanced. From there, Dr. Riegel can create a personalized plan of care for you based on hormone levels. We will regularly monitor your hormones and make changes as needed. Dr. Riegel provides virtual consultations in all 50 states and can then have your exclusive hormone treatment delivered directly to your home or office. For more information on bioidentical hormone therapy, please visit our website or call us at (888) 386-0237.