Is it your hormones or depression?

Are you struggling to focus on work? Don’t have the energy to get off the couch? Can’t shake the sadness?

These are all common signs of depression, and often, when you discuss symptoms with your doctor, you’ll walk out the door with an antidepressant. For some people, that’s what they’ll need to feel like themselves again.

But for others, antidepressants may not help.


Because you could have a hormonal imbalance that can lead to symptoms of depression. Here’s what you need to know to determine the path forward for you.

How hormonal imbalance affects your mental health

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues and organs, working to affect many different processes, including:

  • Growth and development
  • Metabolism
  • Sexual Function
  • Reproduction
  • Mood

Hormones are powerful. It only takes a tiny imbalance to cause a big change in your cells, body, and mind.

When your hormones are balanced, you feel energetic, sharp, and motivated. On the flip side, when you have a hormonal imbalance, you could experience symptoms often associated with mental illnesses, such as:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Brain fog
  • Low libido

Here are the common hormonal imbalances that can cause symptoms of depression

Your thyroid is a small gland located in your neck and is involved in the production of many neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and GABA—all of which are involved in mood regulation. It’s estimated around 12% of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime, and 60% of people with a thyroid problem are unaware of their condition.

In fact, thyroid dysfunction is directly linked to one-third of all depression.

Like your thyroid, estrogen also plays a role in the production of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. Too much or too little can alter those levels, leading to feelings of depression.

Progesterone is also called the “relaxation” hormone because it has a calming effect when it’s produced at optimal levels. However, when it’s in low supply, it can lead to depression, as well as irritability, anxiety, sleepless nights, and brain fog.

Testosterone is found in both men and women and helps ward off depression, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. You may experience symptoms of depression or anxiety when you have low levels.

How to get your hormone levels tested

If you’re dealing with a hormone imbalance rather than a mental illness, antidepressants won’t get you back to feeling yourself again. You may jump from medication to medication wondering why nothing is working.

That’s why it’s important to visit a healthcare professional who can test your hormone levels as part of your evaluation. Your primary care physician (PCP) or OB GYN can do this for you. However, if your results come back within the “normal range”, we recommend having a hormone specialist compare your numbers within that range. 

A number on the higher or lower end of normal could be the reason you’re experiencing health issues but may not alarm your PCP to trigger a medication prescription.

The good news of falling in the high or low ranges of normal, though, is you can start treatment to avoid worsening symptoms or crossing into that threshold of abnormality.


Would you like to get your hormone levels tested? Or have one of our specialists review previous test results? Connect with us online or give us a call at (901) 312-7899.