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Hormonal Imbalance and Depression

Hormonal Imbalance and Depression

By Mike Kocsis | 7 minutes read | Last updated: June 28, 2024
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  • Medically Reviewed by Dr. George Touliatos

    Evidence Based Research

    Depression is a complex mental health condition affecting 1 in 6 adults in the UK. While it has several causes, including genetics and life events, recent research indicates that hormonal imbalance may also play a significant role in the development of depression.

    In this article, we will discuss the connection between depression and hormone imbalance. We will also share the treatments available to manage your symptoms.

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    Hormones: The body’s chemical messenger

    Hormones are chemical messengers produced by glands such as the pituitary and thyroid glands. They travel through the blood to different body parts to tell them what to do and when to do it. They control nearly every function in the body, including mood, stress, energy production, metabolism, sexual function, and sleep.

    Target organs have receptors specific for each hormone. They bind to the hormone and stimulate the organ to take a certain action.


    Hormone imbalance and depression

    Hormones must be secreted in healthy levels in the body for overall well-being. Having too much or too little of them can cause dozens of medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, hypogonadism, obesity, and even depression or anxiety.Several hormones have been linked to depression and other mental health problems.

    Following are a few key hormones that may contribute to depression.

    Dopamine and depression: Dopamine, also referred to as the ‘motivation hormone,’ mediates pleasure in the brain. When you achieve something and feel good about it, you have a high surge of this hormone in your brain.

    Studies show dopamine deficiency can cause depression. Common symptoms that individuals with low dopamine feel include reduced motivation, fatigue, low energy, and mood swings. 

    Increasing dopamine levels can help get rid of this kind of depression.

    Cortisol and depression: Cortisol is a stress hormone whose levels elevate when you are stressed, preparing the body for the ‘flight or fight’ response. Chronic stress causes prolonged elevation of cortisol levels, producing various undesirable symptoms, including inflammation and mood disorders like depression.

    Oestrogen and depression: Oestrogen is a female sex hormone responsible for developing female characteristics. It is mainly produced by the ovaries, but adrenal glands and fat cells also produce it in small quantities. Its levels change throughout a woman’s life. They rise during puberty but significantly decline during menopause. 

    Having too much or too little of this hormone can lead to feelings of depression. That is why some menopausal women experience mood changes.   

    Testosterone and depression: Testosterone is a male sex hormone known for its role in developing and maintaining male characteristics. It also performs many other important roles, including bone density regulation, muscle mass development, and mood regulation.

    Testosterone levels dwindle as men get older. However, some younger men may also experience testosterone deficiency due to poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, brain tumours, or other similar factors. 

    Low testosterone, also called hypogonadism, produces different effects on the body. It makes men lose muscle mass, bone density, and sexual desire. Furthermore, it may also cause mood changes, low motivation, and depression.


    The link between low testosterone and depression

    Several studies demonstrate that men with low T have an increased risk of depression compared to men with healthy testosterone levels.

    Testosterone regulates several brain functions, such as emotional well-being, cognitive abilities, and mood. When you have insufficient testosterone, your brain fails to receive testosterone messages properly and perform related functions. As a result, you may experience a mental health problem like depression.

    The exact mechanism by which testosterone causes depression has not been discovered yet, but some studies suggest the following potential mechanisms.

    • Low T may disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation, potentially contributing to depressive symptoms.
    • Testosterone controls the production of some hormones. Its low levels may disturb hormone imbalance, increasing the risk of depression.
    • Studies indicate men with low T have high inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation is a defence mechanism, but it is damaging when it becomes prolonged. Chronic inflammation may cause internal scarring, type 2 diabetes, and even depression.

    Similarly, oxidative stress occurs when your body has plenty of harmful free radicals and only fewer antioxidants, leading to a free radical-antioxidant imbalance. This condition is also known to cause depression if it is not controlled on time.

    • Low T impacts various psychological factors, causing reduced energy levels, low motivation, and changes in sexual desire. All these factors can contribute to negative psychological experiences, leading to depression.


    Identifying hormone imbalance

    Recognising signs of hormone imbalance is important for finding the cause of depression. Here are the common signs and symptoms that men with hormone imbalance may experience.


    Addressing hormone imbalance

    The good news is that hormone imbalance can be treated in different ways. If you suspect your hormone levels are disturbed, here is what you need to do.

    Consult with a healthcare professional

    The first thing you need to do is consult with a hormone specialist who can help you identify which hormone is disturbing your health. 

    They will conduct a thorough physical examination and learn your medical history. They will ask you to have some hormone tests based on your symptoms.

    Once they identify which hormone is imbalanced, they will look for its cause. Finding the cause will help them design a suitable treatment plan.

    Lifestyle modifications

    Adopting healthy lifestyle habits plays a crucial role in hormone balance. You should make the following habits a part of your life to keep your hormones within their healthy range:

    • Exercise regularly as it helps maintain body weight, relieve stress, and promote the production of certain hormones, including testosterone.
    • A balanced diet supports normal hormone production. You should take more veggies and fruits. Reduce the intake of sweetened beverages. Drink plenty of water.
    • Adopt stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness to tackle day-to-day stressful situations well.
    • Maintain a healthy weight, as extra fat cells can disrupt the production of hormones.
    • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep because it is the time during which your tissues and organs heal to be ready for the next day. You must give your body enough time to restore its strength and be able to function normally the very next day.  


    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a common treatment for low levels of hormones like testosterone and oestrogen. It offers you different ways to administer hormones, including gels, patches, pellets, and injections. One of the most common HRT forms is topical gels that are famous for their convenience and effectiveness. 

    HRT for testosterone or oestrogen has shown positive effects on bone health, cognitive abilities, energy levels, mood, behaviour, and depression.


    What else do I need to know about HRT?

    Are you considering HRT for hormone imbalance? Here is what you need to know about this treatment option.

    Customised treatment: HRT is tailored to each patient’s unique needs. While designing a custom treatment plan, your healthcare provider will consider several elements, like age, lifestyle, current hormone levels, and personal preferences.  

    Potential side effects: Overall, HRT is a safe procedure, but it has some potential side effects that you can avoid by closely assessing effects of the treatment on your body. Common HRT side effects include acne, breast enlargement, fluid retention, and increased red blood cell count.

    Close monitoring and evaluation: You will have to monitor your hormone levels on a regular basis to ensure they stay within the desirable range. Your healthcare provider may increase or decrease your dose during treatment based on your changing hormone levels.  

    Long-term considerations: It is often a lifelong treatment. Your hormone levels will stay stable as long as you keep administering them in your body. You will have follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to measure your hormone levels and address changes in symptoms.

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    Summing it up

    Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders worldwide. It has various causes, but recent studies have found a strong connection between hormone imbalance and the development and progression of depression.

    If you suspect your hormone levels are disrupted, consult a healthcare provider. They will help you diagnose the problem and start a suitable treatment on time.

    HRT or TRT may be the right solution if you have oestrogen or testosterone deficiency and want to restore their levels. At Balance My Hormone, we offer these valuable treatments to help people improve their overall well-being and feel better again. Contact us anytime to order a hormone test or talk to our experts!


    References/Further reading/Bibliography/Scientific studies 

    Carnahan, R.M. and Perry, P.J., 2004. Depression in aging men: the role of testosterone. Drugs & aging21, pp.361-376.

    Khera, M., 2013. Patients with testosterone deficiency syndrome and depression. Archivos espanoles de urologia1(1), pp.729-736.

    Vartolomei, M.D., Kimura, S., Vartolomei, L. and Shariat, S.F., 2020. Systematic review of the impact of testosterone replacement therapy on depression in patients with late-onset testosterone deficiency. European Urology Focus6(1), pp.170-177.

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    Evidence Based Research

    This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

    References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

    Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject. You can read more about our Editorial Process by clicking here.

    We value your feedback on our articles, if you have a well-researched paper you would like to share with us please contact us.

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    About the Author: Mike Kocsis

    Mike KocsisMike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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