If you've experienced a sudden shift in your emotional well-being — anxiety, sluggishness, or even depression — hormonal imbalance may be to blame. Progesterone, a hormone produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands, works in tandem with estrogen to regulate important female productive functions and mood.
A deficiency of this hormone could leave you feeling worse for wear. Read on to learn more about how progesterone levels could be impacting your mood.
Sending the Right Signal
Progesterone is known as a chemical messenger because it sends important messages to a woman's body during her monthly menstrual cycle. Every month, progesterone signals the body to prepare for a fertilized egg. If fertilization does not occur, progesterone calls for the shedding of the uterine lining, resulting in menstruation.
The link between progesterone and mood seems to come from its interaction with the brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that sends messages through the nervous system and influences mood. Progesterone works to produce serotonin by increasing serotonin receptor sensitivity and increasing serotonin receptor levels. When progesterone levels drop, so do serotonin levels. Low levels of serotonin may cause depression or anxiety in women. Click here to read more information about the role of progesterone or continue reading below to learn about restoring hormone balance.
Regaining Control of Your Emotions
For many women, the feeling of losing control of their emotions can have devastating effects. They may feel as though their personal relationships and their work performances are suffering. Most doctors recommend trying to make simple lifestyle and dietary changes to improve mood before turning to prescription medications or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat low progesterone levels. Some common natural changes include:
- Exercise. Maintaining a regular exercise routine helps to balance hormones and release mood-boosting endorphins. Yoga is a great low impact exercise that encourages blood flow and improves strength and flexibility.
- Meditation. Although menopausal mood swings are caused by hormone imbalances, they can be triggered by environmental stresses and relationship problems. Meditating for 30 minutes a day can help reduce these added stresses.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. The caffeine found in coffee and some teas acts as a stimulant and can increase irritability; conversely, alcohol acts as a depressant and can cause feelings of sadness or anger.
These are just a few of the treatment options available for menopause mood swings. Click here for more information about treatments for low progesterone levels.
While mood swings are a common symptom of fluctuating levels of progesterone during menopause, persistent feelings of anger, depression, anxiety or irritability may be a sign of something more serious. Click here for more information about mood swings.