THE HORMONE-BRAIN CONNECTION
There are legitimate reasons you feel the way you do. Current scientific research, epidemiological studies, and clinical trials clarify and prove a real and profound interaction between, hormones and your brain chemistry that can create a set of symptoms and emotional states that make you feel, well, insane. We now know that the brain and its many neurotransmitters are highly dependent on estrogen. When estrogen levels shift or become erratic, women experience emotional ups and downs, insomnia, and other cognitive disruptions such as brain fog and memory loss. Endocrinologists now understand that women are not only vulnerable to emotional upsets when they are premenstrual, but they are vulnerable during all of the reproductive turning points in their lives: after childbirth, and during perimenopause and menopause when hormones and brain chemistry fluctuate the most. When you add the stressors of daily life to the mix, the neurotransmitter imbalances become amplified and women suffer.
Neurotransmitters control your behavior so an imbalance or lack of certain neurotransmitters makes you feel lousy and out of sorts. It is critical that there are enough of the major neurotransmitters present daily in order for the brain to be chemically balanced and for you to feel right emotionally. Neurotransmitters can change depending on your current requirements and circumstances. Sleep disorders and lack of motivation indicate brain chemistry imbalances, which also lead to lower serotonin. Serotonin is the natural drug in your body that keeps you happy. Low Serotonin levels means you may be having feelings of depression.
Some of the most significant clinical issues (and symptoms) linked to neurotransmitter imbalances are:
- Appetite control
- Attention issues
- Behavioral problems
- Hormonal changes
- Mood disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Weight control
Obliged to offer some cure-all, a lot of medical doctors do their best to address what they see and prescribe blood pressure medications, antidepressants (SSRIs), or sleeping pills. Possibly, your gynecologist offered you birth control pills in an attempt to “normalize” your hormones, or a psychiatrist talked you into anti-depressants to “normalize” your brain chemistry. These “band-aid” treatments may not work at all, they may give some relief, or they may leave you with unpleasant side effects. Then comes the result: more of the same.
You may feel as though your health care practitioner didn’t hear you or failed to treat what is really going on. Sadly, many women are told “Your emotional suffering is all in your head,” or their symptoms are caused by “stress,” without any suggestions of what to do or what to take in order to feel better. Neither birth control pills nor anti-depressants will treat the underlying hormone/brain chemistry imbalance.
Symptoms are signs that something is wrong. You may experience more than one symptom at a time and may also experience them at different times during the month. Here is a list of the twelve most common symptoms women share. Do you identify with any of these? By the way, these Top Twelve are the symptoms you can track on your Monthly Symptom Tracker.
Top Twelve Symptoms:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Crying spells
- Feeling Depressed
- Feeling “flat”
- Rapid thoughts
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling Overwhelmed
When these symptoms are reviewed we can learn a great deal about what is going on with your hormones, including your female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, as well as the adrenal and thyroid hormones.
The good news is that you and your health care practitioner can now test your neurotransmitters to find their levels and see which ones are responsible for the brain chemistry imbalances that are causing your emotional distress. Emotional symptoms also clearly tell you what your brain chemistry wants and needs. Once you know which neurotransmitters are too high or too low, you can figure out the kind of support you need—from amino acids and other nutritional supplements and mood foods, to hormones and lifestyle changes– to help you stop feeling insane and begin to find your emotional balance again.