Balance your hormones
Hormones which are out of balance can be both a cause, and a result of mental health issues. Balancing your hormones can be a very effective way of addressing mental health symptoms that you might have.
Balanced hormone levels will make you feel happier, more alert, less anxious, more able to focus, concentrate and remember, more energetic, and more able to sleep. If you want to feel your best mentally, it is essential to live a life which encourages hormonal balance, and make this a daily practice.
Ways to balance your hormones
The toxins in our air, water, food, pharmaceuticals, etc. can all contribute to throwing our hormones out of balance. Indeed, many of the toxic chemicals in our environment today are endocrine disruptors, well known to disrupt our hormonal balance. Read more about how to detoxify to balance your hormones by clicking on the links below.
One of the most important ways to balance your hormones is to correct your nutrition and supplement. It is from specific nutrients that our body makes hormones and neurotransmitters which are essential to our mental health. Read more about how to correct your nutrition and supplement in order to balance your hormones by clicking on the links below.
Exercising in the right amount, in other words in a way that is adapted to your physiological needs and state of health, is essential for hormonal balance.
Being in nature and natural light can be very balancing to your hormones, as it impacts your circadian rhythms, which heavily impact our hormones, and also is calming to the nervous system, which again, has a powerful impact on our hormones.
Technology and social media can create stress and disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep patterns, having a negative impact on hormonal balance. In order to achieve hormonal balance, it is important to manage your technology and social media use daily.
Practising breathing techniques for better breathing can balance your nervous system, and your hormones, especially your stress hormones.
Meditation, especially when practised regularly, given its calming effect on the nervous system, can be one of the most efficacious ways of balancing our hormones.
Mental therapy, insofar as it can help alleviate tension, anger, frustration, anxiety, and depression, can be helpful in balancing our hormones. Negative emotions can greatly impact our hormonal balance, and addressing these either in self therapy, or with a therapist, can go a long way towards calming the nervous system, and optimising hormonal balance.
There are many mind-body therapies which can be extremely effective to help balance your hormones. Yoga, acupuncture, and chi gong or tai chi have all been proven to have a positive effect on hormonal balance for instance.
A calm and balanced nervous system is essential for balanced hormones. Practising relaxation techniques daily is essential.
Getting enough sleep, between 7 and 8 hours a night, is essential for hormonal balance. Pibuu. (2017). How much sleep you really need and its effect on skin. [online] Pibuu. Available at: https://www.pibuu.co/2017/06/20/how-much-sleep-do-you-need/ [accessed 4 Dec. 2017].
Insofar as spirituality, community and purpose contribute to a greater sense of connection with others, and a sense of meaning, they are important for hormonal balance.
Indeed, people who are disconnected from others, or disconnected from a sense of greater meaning and purpose in their lives, can experience stress and unhappiness, which are detrimental to hormonal balance.
Read more about coping with difficult social circumstances and lack of meaning and purpose below:
If you have implemented the lifestyle changes above and yet still have hormonal imbalances and are above the age of 35, talk to your health practitioner about taking bio-identical hormones. These can be helpful as a temporary boost during a particularly stressful time to support hormonal balance, or as more long term support if necessary.
Work with a qualified bio-identical hormone practitioner to diagnose and correct your hormone imbalances.
If you do embark on bio-identical hormone therapy, take the smallest dose for the shortest possible time.
Bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT) is a healthier alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapy. This is because it uses natural hormones which share the molecular structure of our own natural hormones, and therefore are less difficult for the body to process, and have been shown to be safer than synthetic hormones (such as progestins, which are synthetic Progesterones; and synthetic Estrogens), as the latter have many negative side-effects, such as disease, inflammation, gut issues, and nutrient depletion. Amen, D. (2013). Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. New York: Harmony Books, pp. 117-8.
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can help with postnatal depression and climacteric depression, as well as the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Improve energy levels
- Improved cognition and memory
Amen, D. (2013). Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. New York: Harmony Books, pp. 119-20., Studd, J. W. (2011). A guide to the treatment of depression in women by estrogens. [online] Climacteric, 14 (6), pp. 637-42. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21878053 [accessed 15 Sept. 2017]., Gottfried, S. (2013). The Hormone Cure. New York, NY: Scribner, p. 5., Cass, H. and Barnes, K. 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health. Brevard, N.C.: Take Charge Books, 2008, p. 50., Gluck, M. and Edgson, V. (2010). It Must Be My Hormones. London: Penguin, p. 2.
Pregnenolone is known as the mother hormone, and is the building block for all other hormones. It is made from cholesterol.
If you take bio-identical pregnenolone, your body can then decide which hormones it needs to make out of it, depending on which hormone your body needs. Amen, D. (2013). Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. New York: Harmony Books, p. 117.
Chris Kresser advises always starting with stress hormone imbalances and healing any HPA axis dysfunction before addressing sex hormone imbalances.
One of the main causes of low progesterone, for instance, is HPA axis dysregulation, which should be addressed before even considering progesterone replacement. Chris Kresser notes
Progesterone is one of the key female sex hormones, and essential to controlling estrogen levels and ensuring healthy GABA levels (the calm and focus neurotransmitter):
- Bio-identical progesterone has been found to repair and enhance brain activity and cognitive function
- It may also reduce anxiety, and improve sleep Amen, D. (2013). Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. New York: Harmony Books, p. 119.
- To heighten progesterone levels, progesterone cream can be very useful Scott, T. and Wszelaki, M. (May 2015). Foods to Balance your Hormones and Ease Anxiety, Part II. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/.
- Effect and caution:
- Helps support testosterone and estrogen production, so be careful if you have hormone-dependent cancer
- Role in mental health:
- Potential positive effect on psychotic symptoms Lake, J. (2009). Integrative Mental Health Care. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., p. 216.
- Combats lethargy and exhaustion
- Boosts libido
- Can help with depression and mood swings
- Start with 10mg per day and gradually increase Amen, D. (2013). Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. New York: Harmony Books, p. 133.
If DHEA levels are low, taking supplements can help relieve stress and rebalance levels.
Needs to be taken under the supervision of a doctor.
- Role in mental health
- Thyroid hormone replacement therapy can result in dramatic and rapid improvement in mood. Lake, J. (2009). Integrative Mental Health Care. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., p.137.