The tendency for women to be affected more than men usually begins at puberty. It is not a coincidence that this is precisely when hormones create a divide between the sexes. These two primary hormones link women to depression:
At its optimal function, estrogen regulates mood through the production of dopamine and serotonin. When estrogen balance is off, a woman may not have enough of these mood-enhancing neurotransmitters. This is most common during premenstrual syndrome, postpartum depression, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
When things are working properly, progesterone keeps you calm and relaxed. Low progesterone levels are common, however, in women and girls who experience short cycles and irregular periods.
Other hormones that can play a role in depression are thyroid, testosterone, insulin, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), and cortisol. Keep in mind, however:
- It is not just hormones that increase a woman’s risk of depression
- You must be sure to differentiate between temporary mood swings during menstruation and the long-term issue of depression
- Many societal and cultural factors can serve to exasperate the potentially depression-causing impact of hormone imbalances
On that last point, what hormones start can be escalated when a woman is also struggling with life problems like sex-based discrimination or violence, aging, side effects of medications, and so much more.
What’s a Woman to Do?
Scroll back up to the depression symptoms list. Ask yourself if these sound familiar and if they have lasted more than two weeks. If so, it is essential that you get a couple of professional opinions. Talk to your medical doctor to get tested for hormone imbalances. At the same time, connect with an experienced therapist to explore the many facets of depression — and its causes.
Even if you regulate your hormones, it does not mean your depression will simply vanish. You will need to get informed and discern the best path for your particular situation. The connection between hormones and depression is a growing field of study. New discoveries are regularly being made. Working with a therapist is the ideal way to benefit from this body of knowledge. I would love to speak with you about depression therapy and how it can help you. Contact me for a complementary 15 minute consultation today.