mental health austin

HORMONES AND MENTAL HEALTH

It’s no secret that hormones have a strong connection to our mood and behavior. Most people are familiar with the mood swings associated with PMS in women, but both males and females can suffer from psychologic symptoms as a result of hormonal imbalances. No, this does not mean you need to seek out a psychiatrist if you’re experiencing some highs and lows, but seeking out hormone replacement therapy could be a great avenue to explore.

Women are familiar with the hormonal changes that go on throughout the month. The rise and fall of estrogen influences the production of serotonin, known as the happy neuro-chemical. A low level of serotonin has been proven to cause depression. The same goes for males. In men, a low of a level of testosterone or too high a level of estrogen has been shown to cause irritability.

Adrenal hormones also play a role in mental health of both men and women. These include the body’s stress hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, and DHEA. People whose adrenal hormones are imbalanced often experience mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

BOOST SEROTONIN LEVELS

I’m sure some days we could all use some extra serotonin in our body, but don’t ever think of ways to get our own serotonin levels up. Symptoms of low serotonin levels include feeling anxious, depressed, irritable, sleep issues, fatigue, or a decreased appetite. Ways we ourselves can increase our serotonin levels include:

  1. Food that contains tryptophan-an amino acid that’s converted to serotonin in your brain. This can be found primarily in high-protein foods like turkey and salmon.
  2. Exercise triggers the release of that same amino acid, tryptophan, into your blood that will then reach your brain. Choose exercises that get your heart rate up such as swimming, cycling, jogging, etc.
  3. Bright light. Research shows that serotonin tends to be lower after winter and higher in the summer and fall, which is where the idea of ‘seasonal depression’ comes from. Spending time in the sunshine appears to help increase those serotonin levels. Simply spending at least 10-15 minutes outside each day can help.
  4. Supplements containing 5HTP may also help to jumpstart the production and release of serotonin.
  5. Massage therapy helps increase serotonin and dopamine, another mood-related neurotransmitter. It also helps to decrease cortisol, the hormone your body produces when stressed. Seeking a massage therapist is not necessary, one study showed that women who received 20 minutes of massage from a partner twice weekly said they felt less anxious and depressed and had higher serotonin levels after 16 weeks.

While we are all stuck inside more often these days, it is harder to maintain our mental health. Many people often turn to antidepressants and other medications for mood changes without considering the possibility of a hormonal imbalance. It’s important to treat the central problem instead of treating a symptoms with a medication.

If you are experiencing mood symptoms and want more information on Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy contact Premier Health and Wellness by visiting the site (www.premierhw.com) or contacting the staff at (512) 459-4405.