How Your Hormones Affect Your Mental Health

July 11, 2023

How Your Hormones Affect Your Mental Health

Hormones are chemical messengers generated by your body to regulate different bodily functions. They can impact your immune system, metabolism, mood, growth, and mental health. In this article, we'll look at how certain vital hormones influence mental health, the causes of imbalanced hormones, and ways to boost hormones naturally.  


Cortisol is nicknamed the "stress hormone" since it's released in response to stressful situations and low blood-glucose concentration. It's produced in the adrenal glands, which are located at the top of the kidneys. Cortisol helps you overcome and manage stress, but if cortisol levels remain high for prolonged periods, it can result in depression, anxiety, mental fog, and difficulty concentrating.


The opposite of cortisol is serotonin. This happy hormone contributes to deep feelings of well-being and happiness. However, if you have low levels, it can cause depression and anxiety. It's produced in the brain stem and isn't a hormone in the traditional sense but classified as a neurotransmitter. Even though it's not precisely a hormone, it profoundly impacts mood and happiness, and imbalances can wreak havoc with mental health. 

Sex Hormones

Your body produces different kinds of sex hormones. While they do work together and have an impact on mental health, each one is slightly different. 


Estrogen, a female hormone, comes in different forms in a woman's lifetime and monthly cycle. The hormone is produced primarily in the ovaries for women and in the testes and brain for men. Estrogen can affect mental health and mood for both men and women.  

Low estrogen levels can lead to depression, and high levels may result in anxiety. For example, estrogen levels rise in the first half of a woman's cycle and reduce as she approaches her period. During that time, women may experience heightened emotions as hormone levels change. In addition to regulating a woman's cycle, estrogen plays a role in handling a body's stress response and can protect against stress-related mental health issues.


If estrogen has a life partner, it would be the other female hormone, progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone work together in many different capacities in a woman's body, from fertility to mental health. Like estrogen, low progesterone levels can contribute to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and postpartum depression. On the other hand, optimal levels have natural antidepressant effects.


The male sex hormone testosterone helps build muscle, produce typical male features, and impacts mood. Women also produce testosterone, just in smaller amounts. Low levels may lead to irritability, fatigue, decreased cognitive function, and depression for both men and women. 

Thyroid Hormones

The thyroid gland is usually associated with weight and metabolism regulation, but it has a profound effect on mental health. Located in the lower front of the neck, the thyroid gland produces hormones essential for the body and proper brain function. If your levels are too low or too high, it can cause anxiety, irritability, depression, mood swings, and cognitive impairment.


Finding a good night's sleep has as much to do with your daily lifestyle as with the sleepy hormone melatonin. Melatonin is produced in response to light. As it grows darker, so do your levels of melatonin which help to relax the body in preparation for sleep. But if you have low levels, it can result in poor sleep. Irregular sleep can result in anxiety, mood disorders, and depression. 


Insulin plays a central role in blood sugar regulation and affects brain function. If you become insulin resistant, you may have diabetes but are also at risk for mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. 


Love is definitely in the air when you have high levels of oxytocin. The "love hormone" is released during various social encounters, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Having high levels helps with anxiety and has mood-boosting effects but having low levels can produce the opposite effect. 


DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is produced in the adrenal glands. It's often overlooked because it helps create other hormones, including testosterone. Nicknamed the ‘father of all hormones’ DHEA is associated with longevity and vitality. If you're low in DHEA, you may be low in other vital hormones as well. Low DHEA affects your feelings and may result in anxiety and depression. 

Causes of Hormonal Imbalances

Hormones have a profound effect on mental health, but what are the causes of hormonal imbalances? The causes can depend on what hormone you're low in, but we'll look at common reasons and ways to boost hormones in general. 


Most hormones start to decrease as you age, especially the sex hormones. Testosterone levels increase as boys reach puberty and continue before tapering off in the mid to late 20s. 

By middle age, levels are half of what they were a decade before. This happens for women as well when it comes to progesterone and estrogen. But this can be true for other vital hormones like melatonin, DHEA, and pregnenolone.  Aging gracefully is dependent on many factors but one big one is hormones. 


All women go through menopause at some point (usually by mid-50s). The reason for menopause is that estrogen and progesterone decrease drastically. This causes a woman not to be able to conceive but also impacts bone density, immune function, and mental health. As women get used to lower hormones, every aspect of their body and mind is affected. However, there are ways to increase hormones with topical hormone creams and lifestyle changes. 

Health Conditions

Certain health conditions can affect hormones. Diabetes affects how we process insulin; constant stress increases cortisol and reduces serotonin. In addition, a poor diet or lack of exercise can also harm hormone levels. 

Treatment Options for Low Hormones

Different treatment options for restoring hormonal balance exist, from lifestyle changes to medications and therapies such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). 

HRT is proven effective and can significantly affect mental health conditions. The first step is to speak with your doctor and have tests run to determine which hormones you're low in and then decide if HRT is suitable for you. If it is, you'll discover it can lift your mood and help with anxiety and depression.