How do hormones affect moods?
Premenstrual Syndrome (P.M.S.) is a very common condition that occurs seven to fourteen days prior to the onset of a menstrual period due to the hormonal change that takes place during that interval. It has both physical and psychological symptoms that usually clear when the period starts. Up to to ten percent of women have P.M.S. mood changes severe enough to greatly interfere with their lives. Many women become profoundly depressed during the P.M.S. days. No one is certain why this is so, but some researchers have suspected that changing estrogen levels may affect the serotonin levels in the brain which control mood.
Menopause has always been blamed for causing depression and has been unkindly referred to as “mental pause.” This is not so. It is not mandatory to become emotionally unstable at menopause.
There is no question that mood is affected by the hormonal fluctuations of menopause and of normal menstrual periods. These fluctuations rarely actually cause a chemical depression. In my observation, menopause and P.M.S. tend to magnify the symptoms of a preexisting underlying depression. If for example, a woman has been suffering with a mild undiagnosed depression or dysthymia for many years, the hormonal change at menopause or during her P.M.S. days, may magnify her depressive symptoms to the point where she wants treatment. The menopause or menstrual cycle was not the actual cause of the depression but it aggravated the condition enough to expose it.
When women go to their doctors complaining of menopausal and depressive symptoms, they usually get treated for only the menopausal symptoms or cyclic bloating and the underlying depression is missed. It is important to treat both the menopausal and depression symptoms separately. They are both legitimate biochemical, treatable conditions. Both menopausal and P.M.S. depressions respond well to antidepressants.
There are other circumstances taking place in a menopausal woman’s life that can aggravate her mood and which have nothing to do with her hormonal status. She likely has teenagers who may be already exhibiting symptoms of mild depression which they inherited from her. This will greatly increase her stress levels.
She may also be married to a man who is himself struggling with an undiagnosed depression and being a man, would never go for help. He would far rather blame his emotions on his wife’s menopause. A woman in menopause is always a convenient target for a depressed man in denial who is going through is own “mid life crisis.”
What do I do next?
We have lots of resources to help you assess yourself for depression, anxiety or mood swings. These resources will also help you understand the conditions so you can help a loved one.
Throughout my medical career I noticed that Christians suffered from depression differently than non Christians. You can download my article that describes this difference and why it happens in How depression affects Christians.
Personal coaching appointments are available where we can meet online or by phone. I will answer your questions about mood disorders and explain the recovery process.
Emotionally Free – The first third of the book explains the nature and treatment of mood disorders from a Christian perspective and includes the symptom checklists for self assessment. The rest of the book explains problems with our personality and spirit.
Have a look at these DVDs/CDs/direct downloads – watch 5 minute previews online
Depression, The Path to Recovery As 2 disc of 10 TV interviews with Dr. Mullen where he explains a Christian understanding of depression, anxiety and mood swings. Our most popular DVD.
Moods, what Christians should know about depression, anxiety and mood swings Christians are often very confused and misinformed about the nature and treatment of mental illnesses. They are also very suspicious of psychiatric treatments, so many are suffering needlessly from correctable conditions. This presentation will remove the mystery and confusion about the diagnosis and treatment of depression, anxiety and mood swings.
Fear, When Trust is Lost You will get the tools to overcome and take control of the worries and fears that disrupt your life.
Free Q&A videos
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- What are the symptoms of depression?
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- What is Anxiety Disorder and OCD?
- What is the ultimate cure for worry?
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