The Endocrine System is a collection of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones exert a variety of effects when they reach their designated target organs. Endocrine glands include the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands, as well as the gonads, pancreas, and pineal body. The endocrine system is involved in a variety of bodily processes, including growth and development, metabolism, reproductive function, sleep, blood pressure, and mood.
In this post we give a few examples of how hormones created by our Endocrine System impact our mood.
Estrogen is important for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is one of our “feel good” hormones. PMS, PMDD, postpartum depression, and the perimenopausal transition are all associated with decreases in estrogen and therefore the mood changes associated with each of these conditions.
Cortisol, often called the “stress hormone,” has been shown to be elevated in patients with depression. The correlation between elevated cortisol and depression has not been well established, though one theory suggests that when an individual is exposed to an array of stressors, this causes the brain to be more susceptible to depression via negative effects of cortisol on the brain.(1)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression associated with diminishing amounts of daylight during the winter months. Patients with SAD often have increased production of the hormone melatonin, which is involved in circadian rhythm regulation.(2)
If you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other mood disorder, it’s important your doctor analyzes for imbalances in the endocrine system as a cause. We can help!