Hormonal Depression Healing Strategies

From PMS to pregnancy and on through menopause, hormonal fluctuations can wreak emotional havoc for women. Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone alter brain chemistry, especially the mood-altering neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.  Levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), are also affected. These hormone fluctuations are most dramatic during peri-menopause (the years leading up to menopause).

Hormonal  Depression Treatment Strategies

If you have not read the article "Hormonal Depression", I suggest you start there. It is important to understand the interaction between fluctuating hormones and brain chemistry.

Lifestyle strategies will go a long ways to restoring balance for most women. Some people don't like to hear this, because it takes discipline and effort to create and maintain healthy life habits. But this is by far the most important tool in your arsenal for addressing hormonal depression and anxiety. Certain supplements and other products are also beneficial, but the benefits will be canceled out by poor lifestyle habits.

Brain chemistry is not only affected by hormone fluctations but also by nutrition, exercise, stress management, and thought patterns. All these areas interact. This is believed to be the main reason why more women than men experience non-clinical depression. Men are not affected by hormone fluctuations the way women are.

1. Nutrition

You need a balanced diet for hormone balance. Poor metabolism from excessive dieting and blood sugar fluctuations from a diet too high in sugars and simple carbohydrates causes fatigue and mood disturbances, including periods of irritability, anxiety or depression. Hormone fluctuations before menstruation, during pregnancy and after childbirth, and during perimenopause and menopause -- add fuel to the fire and magnify the mood disturbances. Eat a diet balanced with protein, complex carbohydrates and fruits and vegetables. (See chronic stress healing strategies for more information on this).

2. Exercise

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to help mild depression and release daily stresses. In order for exercise to provide significant benefits to mood, it must be regular and intense enough to elevate your heart rate for at least 20 minutes. Walking provides many benefits and is great for relaxation. But it is not intense enough to release endorphins, which elevate mood.

3. Supplements for hormone balance

Many women have found help from evening primrose oil, vitamin E, calcium, flax seed, omega 3 oils, and more soy in their diet. (Many women are unknowingly allergic to soy, so be careful to not overdue it.

4. Estrogen replacement for perimenopause and menopause

Perimenopause can take from three years to ten years, a time when estrogen levels fluctuate wildly. The erratic estrogen levels can trigger fluctuating levels of mood altering brain chemicals (serotonin and norepinephrine), as well as cortisol, the stress hormone. After menopause, hormone levels don't fluctuate, but estrogen levels are low and can still affect mood in some women.

Estrogen replacement is also helping millions of women with the depression, hot flashes and other symptoms that usually go along with menopause, especially perimenopause

Some women have found excellent relief from peri-menopausal and menopausal depression through hormone replacement therapy.


5. Stress management.

See Chronic Stress healing strategies


Hormonal fluctuations can trigger rapid progression of an already existing mental illness such as major depressive disorder or bi-polar disorder. Prior to the "hormone trigger", the symptoms may be mild and undiagnosed. If your symptoms persist or are unusually severe, see your doctor.

Be proactive about your health if you want to build long-term physical, mental and spiritual health.

Post-partum depression symptoms and treatment
Clinical Depression
Adrenal Exhaustion (Chronic Stress) and Depression




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