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Depression and Hormones

Depression and Hormones.

In my previous article, we took a close look at the link between menopause and mental health. Until now, HRT and hormone balance have not been considered a relevant course of treatment for patients presenting with mental health conditions.

In this article, we look at one of the most common mental health conditions – depressive disorders (depression).

What is Depression?

Psychiatrists use the ICD 10 Classification of mental and Behavioural Disorders to diagnose depressive disorders. A depressive episode is described as low mood which has been present consistently for at least two weeks. It may be mild, moderate, or severe in severity. If severe, it can be life-threatening as it may lead to people feeling suicidal.

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the UK. We estimate that up to 30% of the population suffers or has suffered from depression. What is also striking is that women are more than twice as likely to have depression compared with men.

Depression is very concerning for the medical profession. It can be associated with other mental and physical health conditions. These include alcohol and drug abuse, obesity, high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, infertility and even cancer.

The Role of Hormones in Depression

During my years of treating patients as a psychiatrist, I became interested in the role of hormones in mental health conditions. It is one of the key reasons why I decided to form The Hormone Clinic.

By monitoring my patients’ mental health over a period, I recognised that patterns were emerging between their moods and emotional states and hormone fluctuations with their levels of progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone and DHEA.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

There are many common symptoms that you might experience with depression. These include low mood, poor self-esteem, low self-confidence, reduced motivation, energy, and concentration. Sleep and appetite may also be affected, and it may be associated with suicidal thoughts.

Reaching a diagnosis of Depression

When we see a patient presenting with symptoms of depression, we take a thorough history and mental state examination  in the initial consultation. As well as a patient’s medical and mental health history, we look for specific changes in mood over time.

With female patients, we track fluctuations in mood throughout their menstrual cycle. We also consider whether they are perimenopausal, menopausal or post-menopausal.

With men, age is important as their testosterone levels begin to fall from the age of 30. It is noticeable from the age of 40 where weight gain, reduced muscle mass and hair loss is often evident.  The age group 45 to 49 has the highest suicide risk and low testosterone may contribute to this.

Treatment of Depression

As mentioned previously, treatment for a depressive disorder includes antidepressants and therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Until recently, professionals have not considered HRT and hormone balance as a relevant course of treatment.

At The Hormone Clinic, treatment for depression includes a thorough history and mental state examination, with blood testing to measure the levels of progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone and DHEA. If required,we prescribe a bioidentical hormones (BHRT) to help restore hormone balance.

Alongside BHRT, we discuss other aspects of hormone health and lifestyle. This will include exercise and we recommend Mediterranean diet with foods that are high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates.

At this stage, we also prescribe antidepressants and a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) if indicated.

Aftercare and Depression

Once we have prescribed bioidentical hormones (BHRT), a second follow up consultation will take place after 6 weeks. At this stage, we will monitor progress and adjust the doses of hormones if required. We would typically expect to see a significant improvement after 3 months.

Book an Appointment

If you are concerned about your mental health and think you might be experiencing depression, The Hormone Clinic is here to help. Please contact us or Book an Appointment and we can start you on the road to restoring your health and quality of life.