Hormones affect our mood throughout our lives. But what are they and how do they do it?
Our bodies are influenced enormously by hormones. The way we develop physically and our moods are controlled by them. Hormones are a chief component of who we are; but what exactly are they?
A hormone is a substance produced by our endocrine glands that travel via our blood to organs and tissues in our body. There are many hormones made in the body that have a biological effect on us. These range from how we develop and grow through to cognitive function and mood.
Hormones affect us all although every one of us is different and so can be affected in slightly differing ways. They are a complex network that skilfully shapes the way our bodies react from letting us know when it is time to sleep to kick-starting puberty. Hormones influence every single stage of our lives.
A parent may recognise hormones in their child’s development for the first time in the form of tantrums. Cortisol is the key player here. This is the ‘fight or flight’ hormone which is released as the child feels frustrated and stressed – usually as a result of the child not being able to manage or adequately express what they are feeling.
As a child makes the journey towards adulthood, hormones play their part. Not only do teenagers have to deal with physical changes in their body but hormones can greatly affect their mood too. The hormone known as serotonin majors during puberty and it is often responsible for those mood swings.
Helping teenagers through their moods is sometimes as simple as making small changes to their lifestyle. It is important to take regular exercise, eat healthily and get enough sleep. Teenagers generally need around 9 hours of sleep per night.
See the NHS guide on how much sleep a child should have.
Teenage girls will experience an increase in the hormone oestrogen which triggers their menstrual cycle. Oestrogen regulates periods, aiding the release of eggs from the ovaries. Levels of oestrogen naturally vary throughout a woman’s cycle and it is the rise and fall of this hormone that affects each female differently. Mood swings in teenage girls may be explained by the level of oestrogen currently in their body as oestrogen can directly influence the level of serotonin which in turn can affect mood.
As with girls, teenage boys will experience a hormone increase during puberty which triggers changes in their bodies. For boys, it is the hormone testosterone. This is the chemical they have to thank for their ups and downs.
Dr Mark Winwood explains “lower levels of testosterone in the body may lead to an increased risk of developing depression. The male body can generally support changes in testosterone levels however if there is a large increase, which happens when such drugs as anabolic steroids are used, then this can certainly have a detrimental effect on mood resulting in symptoms such as aggression and paranoia.”
How to cope:
It can be challenging to live with the effects that hormonal changes can bring but leading a healthy lifestyle, with plenty of regular exercise, healthy eating and sleep may help to negate the downside of hormonal changes.
How adults are affected
Adults can be affected in different ways throughout their lives. It is different from males to females and life stages such as pregnancy and the menopause will have a greater hormonal impact. Both men and women can be affected by stress, however, and it is the hormone cortisol which triggers these feelings.
Cortisol’s important job is to keep the immune system functioning properly. It also helps to break down certain food groups such as fats and proteins, along with helping us to protect ourselves from perceived threats.
Dr Winwood tells us “although cortisol is crucial in keeping us safe if we mislead it into believing that non-life threatening situations are in fact threatening then it can be over-produced. This can result in feelings of anxiety, negativity and can make it difficult to concentrate or relax. If the body produces too much cortisol this can lead to a whole host of health problems.”
Excess cortisol from stress can affect the body’s immune system in a negative way, along with affecting sleep patterns and gaining weight. These factors can all have a negative effect on you and your mood.
Along with kick-starting puberty, testosterone continues to have an important effect throughout adulthood. Testosterone, or the lack of it, can have a direct effect on mood.
The level of testosterone within a man’s body naturally decreases by about one per cent each year after the age of 30.
A low level of testosterone may result in erectile dysfunction, a lower sex drive, a lessening of competitiveness and motivation and ultimately the potential to suffer depression.
Sleep patterns can also be affected which may result in less energy along with concentration levels.
Lower testosterone levels can lead to weight gain too as this is the chemical that helps to metabolise fat so with less of it the body has a propensity to put on weight.
There is treatment for a low level of testosterone. GP’s are able to prescribe medication as a tablet, patch or gel.
With women, hormone levels continue to change throughout adulthood. The way women feel during pregnancy and menopause has much to do with hormones – oestrogen and progesterone are the main players here.
Oestrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy may cause mood swings in the expectant mother. They both play a part in preparing the body for the baby with progesterone being produced by the ovaries.
Fluctuating levels of oestrogen and progesterone may result in premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The rise and fall of these hormones can have a considerable effect on emotions. According to the NHS, this fluctuation can affect your mood by changing the body’s production of serotonin.
When less oestrogen is produced by a woman’s ovaries then her body is said to be going into menopause. Less oestrogen means the body stops producing eggs from the ovaries which in turn causes the menstrual cycle to stop. This reduction of oestrogen can result in many symptoms such as mood swings, hot flushes, trouble sleeping, vaginal dryness, reduced libido.
All content on Silversurfers.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated at all as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Silversurfers will not be responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content on www.silversurfers.com and we are also not liable for the content of any external websites or links from or to Silversurfers to any other websites. Please always consult your own doctor if you’re in any way concerned about any aspect of your health.
Have you got a health question?
We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a health related question of your own – about your or your family's health, medication or upcoming procedures, for example – you can also access their, "Ask the Expert" service. Available around the clock, 365 days a year this free resource allows you to ask the team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives and pharmacists about any health concerns you may have– whenever you need them, 24 hours a day, every day. Please get in touch now.
Click below to submit your question online.
AXA PPP healthcare
Latest posts by AXA PPP healthcare (see all)
- We’re told we should exercise more but how do we go about this? - August 16, 2019
- Arthritis myths debunked - August 10, 2019
- Tired all the time? You could have a folate deficiency - July 27, 2019
- Do you feel under pressure and unable to cope? - July 20, 2019
- Different labs produce different blood test results - July 15, 2019
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!