Have you found yourself not looking forward to and having difficulty handling situations that previously you had no problem handling? Do you find yourself feeling more overwhelmed and irritable than normal? Does it seem to get worse at certain times of the month?
It could be your hormones .
Hormones are chemical messengers that tell your body to do certain processes. When they are out of balance it can have a follow-on effect on all areas of your health; physical, emotional and mental, and your mood is a very common one to be affected.
Hormone imbalances cause many women to overreact to things that never used to bother them. This can occur any time during your reproductive life. However, it is most prominent in your 40’s as you head into perimenopause and then menopause when you have declining oestrogen and progesterone levels.
Anxiety, depression , low mood and mood swings are all symptoms of imbalances in your thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones.
- Your Thyroid
Your thyroid hormones are released from your thyroid gland which not only control your metabolism and your body temperature but also plays a vital part in your brain chemistry as well.
Women in their 40’s+ often experience a decline in their thyroid health which can lead to an underactive thyroid, where your thyroid isn’t producing hormones in the correct amounts and this can lead to low levels of GABA. GABA has a calming effect and so lower levels can lead to symptoms such as an inability to cope with stress and overwhelm, and feelings of anxiety, depression and severe mood swings.
- The adrenal glands
The adrenal glands are responsible for controlling levels of stress in your body and secreting hormones in response to stress that we experience. When you have chronic levels of stress in your life then it can lead to constantly increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol to cope with the increase in demands on your body.
Our adrenal hormones play a big part in controlling our mood and keeping the chemicals in our brain in balance, so to reduce the risk of anxiety and depression we need to ensure they are being produced in the right quantities and only when needed.
- Insulin Levels
Balancing blood sugars has a huge impact on the way we feel and our energy. When you eat sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, insulin is released to bring your blood sugar back down into balance. When this is a constant rollercoaster throughout the day it affects your energy levels and makes you feel irritable and grumpy, and when this happens over a period of time it can make you feel very low.
- Oestrogen / Progesterone Balance
A fall in oestrogen levels can cause changes in your mood, which explains why many women going through the menopause or just before their period experience feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as severe mood swings. Oestrogen also helps to increase serotonin levels which is responsible for making us feel good.
The other hormone that is important to balance is progesterone. Low levels of progesterone also affect our mood and cause us to feel irritable, angry and frustrated. Research shows that an increase in progesterone results in an improvement of premenstrual anxiety, irritability and nervous tension. As you can see finding the right balance between oestrogen and progesterone can help to reduce the chance of us being affected by mood disorders.
So, what can you do to help balance your hormones so that you feel better emotionally and mentally.
* Eat a diet rich with real, natural whole foods. Focusing on proteins, healthy fats, fruit and vegetables to give your body all the vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally. Eat at least five servings of colourful vegetables and two servings of fruit each day.
* Avoiding sugary, processed foods and takeaways; they lack nutrients, are full of trans fats, salt and sugar and have a negative effect on our blood sugar balance which can make symptoms worse.
* Eat plenty of healthy fats as they help to balance hormones. Avocados, nuts and seeds and their oils and butters, oily fish are all good options to include in your diet.
* Limit your caffeine intake; drink less coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks and drink more pure water and herbal teas.
* There are some amazing herbs that have hormone balancing effects and support the liver to detoxify which is integral in helping us excrete excess hormones.
* Exercise is also helpful in boosting our endorphin levels and therefore has a positive effect on our moods. This could include weight training, cardio training, yoga, tai chi, walking, swimming, dancing etc.
* Take a magnesium salt bath, read a book, watch your favourite film, go for a walk in the countryside, connect with a friend. Whatever makes you happy!
* Reduce your stress with massage therapy, join a yoga class or meditate.
* Ensure you get adequate and rejuvenating sleep every night.
Nicole Haak is an experienced Melbourne Naturopath whose gentle approach and warm nature enable her to be an empathetic and supportive practitioner who takes a genuine interest in her clients’ needs. She has a deep passion for what she does. This is evident by her holistic approach to helping her patients find solutions to their health concerns and improve their quality of life.