HORMONES AND OUR MOOD
Hormones regulate every process in our body, including those relating to concentration and productivity. Thus problems in these areas may be related to hormone imbalances.
The complex hormone interactions in our bodies do impact energy and concentration, which is why it’s so important for us to keep those hormones balanced. People who believe they may have a hormone deficiency that is impacting their motivation and energy levels should contact Doctors to test hormone levels and seek treatment if it’s appropriate.
When it comes to how hormones impact motivation and productivity, some people immediately consider the sex hormones and their impact on the body. However, many hormones in the body can impact energy.
You might already be familiar with some of the following hormones, which everybody possesses.
Oxytocin encourages bonding between mother and child during breastfeeding and between lovers during and after sexual activity. The hormone is associated with trust and affection.
Endorphins respond to stress or discomfort in the body to relieve pain. They are commonly released when working out but are also associated with sex and eating.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter known for its role in the brain’s reward and pleasure center. It also plays a role in learning and memory, among other processes.
Serotonin regulates mood as well as processes such as sleep, appetite, and memory. One popular theory connects decreased serotonin activity with depression.
Hormones, Stress, and Sex
Two other chemicals adrenaline, which increases heart rate and blood pressure, and the “stress hormone” cortisol both have evolved to aid survival in flight-or-fight situations. Cortisol usually signals the end of the stress response but can suppress some functions and limit thinking. Prolonged stress keeps adrenaline and cortisol elevated, interfering with various systems and contributing to depression, sleep issues, and impaired concentration, among other issues. This is why stress-management methods are so crucial to physical as well as mental health.
The sex hormone estrogen can also impact cortisol, elevating cortisol levels in women. This may explain their increased vulnerability to depression, anxiety, and other disorders related to concentration and productivity. On the other hand, a sudden drop in estrogen may also contribute to depression as in post-partum depression. Furthermore, during a woman’s menstrual cycle, levels of estrogen as well as the hormone progesterone rise and fall, and some people believe that this can influence productivity levels and task performance during the menstrual cycle.
Testosterone levels can also lead to energy drops in men. Low testosterone can lead to fatigue and even irritability, and men may experience these symptoms more frequently as they age and testosterone decreases in a process sometimes called andropause.
Dealing with the Result of Hormone Imbalance
If any of these hormones become imbalanced, a person may find themselves less motivated to engage in daily activities, with a sour disposition, or unable to enjoy the things that once brought them joy. Work and relationships can suffer.
Because hormones can impact mood and motivation, advice commonly recommends activities and lifestyle changes that can help hormones work more efficiently or even increase the amounts of hormones in the body. For example, research shows that sunlight can increase feel-good hormones serotonin as well as endorphins. Exercise has been shown to release endorphins while providing other health benefits and may be especially effective as a social activity.
Speaking of socializing, laughter may be the best medicine. At the very least, it can trigger endorphin release and increase a person’s tolerance to pain. And while pets may not be people, bonding with the family pet may contribute to oxytocin just as well.
Those people who are easily impacted by music may be experiencing a release of dopamine in response to tunes.
It should also come as no surprise that meditation, which can lower stress, can increase dopamine and endorphins. One of meditation’s benefits is improved sleep, which can certainly impact how motivated and productive a person is. Improved sleep hygiene, including reducing screen time and caffeine before bed and developing a sleep routine, can also improve sleep and lead to improved mood and energy.
A healthy diet can also impact hormones. For example, spicy foods may release endorphins. Yogurt, cheese, and almonds are associated with dopamine. Foods with high amounts of tryptophan can increase serotonin levels in the body. Probiotic-containing foods can also influence hormones. Green tea lovers may also be pleased to learn that this drink can boost both dopamine and serotonin.
When Lifestyle Changes Aren’t Enough
However, in instances of extreme hormone imbalance or conditions that permanently impact hormone creation and function, the healthiest of habits may not be enough. Hormone supplements or medications may be necessary to improve your health and quality of life. Most people are familiar with a type of depression medication known as SSRIs, which stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These medications increase serotonin levels in the body and brain. But depression is only one way that hormone imbalances can manifest, and SSRIs may not always be an appropriate treatment option for low productivity and mood.
About the Author
Tusubira Andrew is a student in third year at Uganda Christian University offering a bachelor of science in civil and environmental engineering. He helps with administrative duties within imental. He suffered psychosis during his first manic episode in his bipolar affective disorder. His recovery journey never stops to amuse its listeners.