According to Facts & Statistics from Anxiety and Depression Association of America “[Depression] affects more than 15 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year”. Depression has been linked to many different room causes, many of them rooted in the endocrine system.
Depression and the Endocrine System
The endocrine system is a complex system that includes glands that produce and release hormones to various parts of the body. Some of the dominant parts of the endocrine system include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and thyroid and adrenal glands. Hormones that are released from glands work as messengers moving through the blood stream from cell to cell to coordinate functions of the body. Organs that receive the message from these hormones then respond in kind. Your hypothalamus works directly with the pituitary gland to tell the other endocrine glands when it is time to produce and release hormones. If everything is functioning correctly, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland will indicate when growth spurts and metabolism rates should change, increase or decrease through proper regulation of the growth hormone.
When the endocrine system is not working correctly or has suffered damage, hormones are not produced or released at proper intervals. This can create a host of issues including depression. Adrenal glands, an over or underactive thyroid and changes in estrogen levels are all linked to incidents of depression.
Mood and Hormone Levels: What Is the Link?
Hormones are both important and powerful. While perhaps the most well known examples of mood swings related to hormones are PMS and menopause, the role of hormones in relation to your mood extends much further. The entire endocrine system works to keep your hormones in balance. If any one of the key components doesn’t function the way it should, it can directly impact your mood and health.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that help directly impact your energy levels and mood. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism can cause sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, muscle weakness and weight loss. These symptoms can develop into depression and if left untreated can leave someone feeling increasingly isolated and alone.
Hypothyroidism is the opposite of hyperthyroidism, presenting when a person’s thyroid is not producing enough of the needed thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism often comes with symptoms of depression such as fatigue, forgetfulness, heavy menstruation and irritability. These symptoms often mimic those of depression. If you are feeling anxious or depressed talk to your treating physician or specialist. Blood tests can be performed to determine the function of your thyroid and see if it is an underlying cause for your symptoms.
Damage to the adrenal glands or issues with the pituitary gland can cause them to under or over produce hormones. A person with low producing adrenal glands can suffer from weakness, dizziness, confusion, nausea and more. These symptoms can all affect a person’s mood making them frustrated or short-tempered. Similar to thyroid issues, a blood test can be used to detect problems with the adrenal glands. Medication can be used to help replace the hormones that are needed and help regulate or relieve symptoms.
Estrogen levels in women vary dramatically. Every month a woman’s estrogen levels can increase and decrease around her menstrual cycle. However, the amount of estrogen that is characteristic varies widely for each individual. Estrogen’s role in a person’s moods and emotions can’t be overstated. Estrogen can trigger the production of serotonin in the brain which may be directly responsible for mood balance. Serotonin deficiencies can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness along with a slew of other symptoms.
A very common example of estrogen affecting a person’s mood is menopause. In the months before menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels are highly erratic. These severe swings in hormones can contribute to the challenges of menopause. This change in estrogen can bring about hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and irritability.
Because so many of these hormones create similar symptoms, it is important to consult with an experienced physician. Blood work and other tests may be needed to get to the root cause of your discomfort. The treatment for plummeting estrogen levels will be different than treatment for hyperthyroidism. It is critical that your condition be accurately diagnosed. Once this step is completed your medical professional can work with you to establish a treatment plan. Hormone replacement therapy, medication, exercise, diet and mental health care treatment are all possible treatment options.
Need Help With Depression and Endocrine Disorder?
If you find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms listed or believe that you are battling depression, please give our office a call. We have qualified and experienced staff that will listen to your concerns, ask the right questions and establish a plan to move forward in diagnosing and treating the root cause of your discomfort or potential mood disorder. Don’t suffer in silence, please pick up the phone and get help today.