Estrogen dominance is a term used to describe a hormonal imbalance in which there is an excess of estrogen in the body relative to progesterone. (see my previous blog post for more details) This imbalance, which can occur in 50% of women in the reproductive years, and increases dramatically during perimenopausal years, can have a significant impact on a woman’s mood, as estrogen plays a vital role in regulating emotional well-being. While some of this information may seem sound familiar, I am focusing on this in detail, as I see so many women whose mood has been hijacked by this hormonal imbalance. Unfortunately, western medicine just often prescribes an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication to bury the symptoms. While these drugs may create temporary relief, they are NOT getting to the root cause and healing the problem. So let’s dig in.
Estrogen supporting your mood
One of the primary ways that estrogen affects mood is by influencing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals between nerve cells, and they play a crucial role in regulating mood, behavior, and other essential bodily functions. Estrogen can influence the levels of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is often referred to as the “feel-good” chemical because it helps to regulate mood, appetite, and sleep. Estrogen has been shown to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Dopamine is another neurotransmitter that is involved in regulating mood and behavior. It is often associated with feelings of pleasure and reward and plays a crucial role in motivation, attention, and learning. Estrogen has been shown to increase dopamine levels in the brain, which can improve mood and increase feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the body’s stress response. It helps regulate heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing and plays a crucial role in the fight-or-flight response. Estrogen has been shown to increase the levels of norepinephrine in the brain, which can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Estrogen hijacking your mood
While estrogen can have many positive effects on mood, estrogen dominance can lead to a range of negative mood symptoms. When there is too much estrogen in the body relative to progesterone (often referred to as the P:E ratio) it can cause a range of mood disturbances, including anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings.
One of the primary ways that estrogen dominance can affect mood is by disrupting the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Too much estrogen in the body can lead to an overstimulation of serotonin and dopamine receptors, which can cause mood swings and irritability. It can also lead to a decrease in norepinephrine levels, resulting in anxiety and depression. In fact, due to the Estrogen Dominance cascade caused by synthetic hormonal contraceptives, studies reveal that women on the pill may be at an increased risk for depression and anxiety.
Estrogen dominance can also affect mood by disrupting the HPA axis, which is the body’s stress response system. The HPA axis is a complex system that involves the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands, and it plays a crucial role in regulating the body’s response to stress. When there is too much estrogen in the body, it can lead to an overactivation of the HPA axis, which can cause feelings of stress and anxiety.
Another way that estrogen dominance can affect mood is by disrupting the balance of other hormones in the body, such as thyroid hormones and cortisol. Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating metabolism and energy levels and can also affect mood. When there is too much estrogen in the body, it can interfere with the body’s ability to produce and utilize thyroid hormones, which can lead to feelings of fatigue and depression.
Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress, and it plays a crucial role in regulating the body’s stress response. When there is too much estrogen in the body, it can lead to an overproduction of cortisol, which can cause feelings of anxiety and irritability.
Uplifting your mood from the dregs of Estrogen Dominance
Fortunately, there are several steps that women can take to manage estrogen dominance and improve their mood. One of the most effective ways to address estrogen dominance is through lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, stress management techniques, and a healthy diet. Regular exercise has been shown to help regulate hormones and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, while stress management techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can help to reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation.
In terms of diet, it is important to focus on whole foods that are rich in nutrients and fiber, such as organic fruits, organic vegetables, whole grains, and lean grass-fed or wild-caught protein sources. Avoiding processed and sugary foods can also help to regulate hormones and improve mood.
In addition to lifestyle changes, there are also several supplements and herbs that may help manage estrogen dominance and improve mood. These include:
Now, let me share with you a client story highlighting incredible success biohacking estrogen dominance and severe depression.
Carol (Not her real name) was a 33-year-old obese woman. She had severe depression and often missed work and normal life activities as a result. As a friend, when I would visit her, I would find her lying on her sofa in tears, with no ambition to get up and do anything. I finally convinced Carol to try some Wild Yam Cream (now we have greater access to natural progesterone cream). Within 3 days of starting on the cream, Carol was off the sofa and going about her full daily activities. Within a few more days, she felt back to her younger self. Yes, she still needed to make the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes to heal at the root level. However, the rescue remedy of natural progesterone was enough of a boost to get to the worst of her symptoms and give her hope to move forward in her healing.
Jane (not her real story) was a 31-year-old with severe anxiety that required two prescription medications for her to make it through her day of teaching elementary school. Once she started on Progesterone cream, started taking DIM (Diindolymethane), and this dramatically reduced her anxiety and her prescription medicine doses.
Although progesterone cream is a simple solution you can easily access on my FullScript.com account, it is still recommended that you follow up with your personal healthcare provider when starting any herbs or supplemental creams. Note, for perimenopausal women, DIM may actually decrease estrogen too much and thereby cause some symptoms on the other extreme (i.e., Hot flashing); thus, Resveratrol is another great option. Checking your hormone levels is also a wise option, especially with the DUTCH test that will give detailed instructions about hormone metabolism and your degree of estrogen dominance.
In conclusion, estrogen dominance can significantly impact a woman’s mood, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings. However, there are several steps that women can take to manage estrogen dominance and improve their mood, including lifestyle changes, including toxin removal, supplements, and herbs. If you are experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance, speak with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.