When you think about mental health, you immediately think of the brain and how it’s functioning. But for women, hormones play a huge role. Hormones control many functions of the body and can impact everything from emotions and moods, fatigue and irritability, reproduction and appetite and depression and anxiety. So it’s not always psychological, but also biological. Read on for 10 ways in which hormones can affect your mental health.
Fertility and menstruation are largely controlled by hormones – and one of these hormones is progesterone. Since progesterone (and estrogen) are at their lowest during menstruation and since progesterone has a calming effect on the brain, that's why things can get a little anxious, according to a study published in Clinical Psychology Review. Once the levels regulate, they stimulate the brain's GABA receptors, those feel-good, calming neurotransmitters.
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According to a study published in Menopause, "women with high anxiety premenopausally may be chronically anxious and not at increased risk of high anxiety at specific stages of the menopausal transition. In contrast, women with low anxiety premenopausally may be more susceptible to high anxiety during and after the menopausal transition than before." So blame it on estrogen, as estrogen levels drop in the years leading up to menopause. Speaking of which...
"I started taking estrogen because I was under the impression that I was going crazy, which turns out to be not as unusual a reaction to midlife hormonal upheaval as I thought," wrote Cynthia Gorney in a piece for New York Times Magazine, in which she explored the mental and emotional challenges that can be come from the hormonal chaos of midlife. "My problem was a new tendency to wake up some mornings with a great dark weight shoving my shoulders toward the floor and causing me to weep inside my car and basically haul myself around as if it were the world's biggest effort to stand up straight and carry on a conversation."
Stop saying: “psycho”
This is a tough one to hear, and honestly, we can’t say it any better than the Canadian Mental Health Association:
“Misperceptions about the relationship between mental health, mental illnesses and violence contribute significantly to these experiences. Studies have shown that people living with mental health conditions are no more likely to engage in violent behaviour than the general population. However, public perceptions, often influenced by the media, are contributing to attitudes that have a significant impact on the lives of people with mental illnesses.”
Try this instead: "She's being melodramatic."
So, nutshell? A lot of what is considered mental illness is thyroid-driven, according to studies, from depression, moodiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, short-term memory loss and, in some cases, anxiety.
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