When dealing with addiction issues, it’s easy to overlook hormone imbalance and depletion. Balanced hormones are vital not only for a healthy body but also for mental and emotional health. In women, hormonal imbalances can cause symptoms like insomnia, mood fluctuations, anxiety, or depression. Because female hormone levels fluctuate regularly, it’s important to be aware of how they influence your mental health and susceptibility to addiction. How hormones influence your mental health and addiction issues is complex. So which ones play the biggest role?
Studies found that higher estrogen levels in women can make them more sensitive to the effects of drugs. Estrogen intensifies the brain’s reward pathway, creating more feelings of happiness and pleasure. Therefore, when a woman takes drugs while in the high-estrogen production phase, she’ll feel better than she would during another phase. However, a lowering of estrogen production in perimenopause and menopause can cause deep depression and anxiety.
Studies have shown that progesterone diminishes a woman’s desire to take drugs or drink alcohol. However, it also makes feelings of depression and anxiety more pronounced. As mentioned above, when progesterone levels fall estrogen becomes the dominant female hormone, and this is linked to higher drug and alcohol use. It almost seems impossible to win this fight!
Cortisol is your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. A study done in the UK showed that people with alcoholism had higher cortisol levels in their blood. This high level was still present even months into total abstinence and were also more likely to relapse during recovery.
Getting your hormones balanced and under control can seem impossible, but there are ways to increase your chances.
- Seeking medical help to deal with your imbalanced sex hormones can be hugely effective in stabilizing mood, sleep, depression and anxiety. This is especially important for women dealing with perimenopause and menopause.
- Eating a simple, balanced diet and cutting down on processed food helps with energy and mood disturbance.
- Moderate exercise three times a week maintains hormone balance, reduces stress and increases motivation.
- Meditation can reduce stress and prevent cortisol spikes.
So while you may think that your constant difficulty getting clean or sober may be a lack of willpower, this hopefully will help you realize that is not true. These real physiological occurrences quietly play a major role in our mental health and susceptibility to addiction. Understanding how hormones influence your mental health and addiction issues gives you a huge advantage. There is hope and adopting a healthier lifestyle can have a major positive influence on your recovery.