Hormonal Depression: Things You Need to Know

Jenna Hilton
August 10, 2023

Turbulent hormonal shifts can turn mild, sporadic mood swings into full-blown depressive episodes. Feeling emotionally drained, physically exhausted, and unable to cope with daily tasks can be overwhelming. Luckily, you can learn how to balance hormone levels to support your mental wellbeing and build a rock-solid foundation for future challenges.

Read this article to discover the symptoms and causes of hormonal depression and how to combat this health condition effectively.

Hormonal depression

Can You Have Hormonal Depression?

Hormonal imbalance can set off a ripple effect on your overall health, impacting your thoughts, emotions, and mood. Disruptive hormonal shifts can lead to frequent irritability, excessive worry, and chronically low energy levels.

Since symptoms of clinical and hormonal depression overlap, they might leave you wondering about the root cause or confused about the best treatment strategy.

The following chart provides an outline of the differences between hormonal and clinical depression.

Hormonal DepressionClinical Depression or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Underlying causeHormonal changes (PMDD, pregnancy, giving birth, perimenopause, menopause, birth control pill, sudden drop in estrogen, etc.)Genetic predisposition, environmental stressors (e.g., a traumatic event, a severe head injury), personality traits, alcohol, drugs, etc.
Timing and triggersCoincides with moderate to strong hormonal fluctuations (e.g., right before the menstrual cycle starts).MDD can occur at any life point and is typically associated with stressful events and loss.
Accompanying symptomsHormone-activated symptoms, such as acne, hair loss, excessive sweating, hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain, low sex drive, etc.Common psychological and physical symptoms are not directly associated with hormonal activity.
Duration and frequencySymptoms are cyclical, so they come and go. They usually intensify during hormonal oscillations.MDD is a long-lasting health condition that can worsen over the years if left untreated.
Common treatmentHormone therapies, supplementation, lifestyle changes.Antidepressant medication and professional psychotherapy.

Signs of Hormonal Depression

Symptoms vary in intensity, frequency, and length. Emotional and physical signs of hormone-related depression include:

  • Mood swings
  • Persistent sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Pessimistic thoughts
  • Insomnia
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular periods
  • Body aches
  • Suicidal thoughts

Note: If you constantly feel tired and struggle with simple everyday tasks, you may suffer from adrenal fatigue. Alleviate the symptoms and replenish lost energy with 18 adrenal fatigue treatment options.

What Causes Hormonal Depression?

Tackling the underlying physiological cause is the first step to overcoming hormonal depression. Consult a medical professional to determine the reasons for the shifts in your emotional wellbeing. They will provide you with a tailored treatment plan based on your medical record, hormonal status, and common triggers.

Below are some of the major causes of hormonal depression:

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe type of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It affects up to 5% of women of childbearing age a week or two before the cycle starts. Heightened sensitivity to regular hormonal changes is a probable cause of PMDD, although there is not enough scientific evidence supporting this claim.

Typical symptoms of PMDD include irritability, tension, and severe depression. Some women experience trouble sleeping, feeling out of control, and panic attacks, while others report breast tenderness, cramps, bloating, joint or muscle pain.

You can manage the symptoms and reduce the negative impact on your mental health with:

  • Antidepressants
  • Birth control pills
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Stress-management tools

Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Research shows that around one in seven women develop postpartum or perinatal depression (PPD) after giving birth. PPD occurs due to a sudden decrease in allopregnanolone, a progesterone-derived neurosteroid that peaks during pregnancy to promote healthy fetal growth. This pregnancy hormone modulates the activity of the brain’s mood-regulating GABA receptors which produce calming, stress-relieving effects.

Postpartum depression goes way beyond “baby blues”, a short-lived condition that manifests as sadness, emptiness, or moodiness after having a baby. Common PPD symptoms include feeling disconnected from the child and unable to bond. Some mothers report feeling shame, guilt, and anxiety.

PPD can last up to 3 years without appropriate or timely treatment. Follow these preventive measures to reduce the risk of developing this post-delivery mood disorder:

  • Build a social support network – Surround yourself with friends, family members, and doctors who will make you feel safe and emotionally strong.
  • Attend prenatal or postnatal classes – Educate yourself about all the aspects of parenthood, including effective prevention of postnatal mood disorders.
  • Hire a breastfeeding professional – A lactation consultant provides breastfeeding advice and techniques to make the transition into motherhood as smooth as possible.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle – Prioritize sleep, high-quality nutrition, and regular physical activities to strengthen your immunity and build overall resilience.

Note: Sometimes, you need a little vitamin push to get back on track after giving birth. Find out what the 10 best vitamins for an immune system boost are and how to include them in your diet to improve your mental health.

Hormonal Contraceptives

Birth control methods alter hormonal activities in females to prevent ovulation and egg fertilization. They contain synthetic estrogen and progesterone (known as progestin), which affect brain function and the activity of neurotransmitters (GABA, serotonin, and dopamine), potentially compromising mental health.

There are different types of hormonal contraception, but research has shown that so-called mini pills, a progestin-only type of contraception, pose the greatest risk for the development of severe mood disorders, such as anxiety or depression.

The exact impact of hormonal contraceptives on mental health remains largely unknown. If you suspect a heightened sensitivity to progestin or wonder about its influence on your emotional wellbeing, consult a healthcare provider for additional testing.


Menopause starts 12 months after the last menstrual period and marks the end of female fertility. The preceding period, perimenopause, is characterized by hormonal instability that impacts both physical and mental states. Low estrogen and progesterone levels may cause mood swings, irritability, and prolonged feelings of sadness.

Estrogen is a crucial hormonal component to emotional wellbeing due to its nerve-protective properties and positive impact on serotonin and endorphin activity. Progesterone increases GABA function, producing a tranquilizing effect on the nervous system.

Popular treatment methods for menopause-related mood swings and depression include:

Note: Learn the difference between perimenopause vs. premenopause.

Low Testosterone

Testosterone is the primary androgen (male sex hormone). It is responsible for maintaining bone density, muscle strength, libido, and red blood cell production. It also improves mood, cognitive function, and emotional wellbeing.

Note: Find out whether testosterone affects sleep.

Studies show a tentative connection between testosterone deficit syndrome and depressive symptoms, such as low mood, chronic fatigue, lack of interest, and difficulties in decision-making. Additionally, low testosterone has several side effects, including erectile dysfunction, hair loss, or sudden weight gain, which may worsen a person’s mental condition.

Aging men are at an increased risk of developing hormonal depression due to a drop in testosterone levels. Androgen deficiency in females is more difficult to diagnose because women naturally produce lower levels of androgens. Medical assistance is vital in diagnosing and reversing sub-optimal testosterone levels.

Here are some actionable tips for keeping healthy testosterone levels:

  • Adopt a high-protein diet
  • Practice resistance training or weight-lifting
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Increase vitamin D
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce alcohol consumption

Note: Find out how testosterone impacts sex drive and whether testosterone therapy can aid in weight loss.

Thyroid Issues

The thyroid glands produce hormones that regulate metabolism, the cardiovascular system and influence healthy brain development. The thyroid interacts with neurotransmitters - serotonin and dopamine - contributing to mood regulation, cognitive function, and mental health.

Patients with hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) may experience nervousness, irritability, and anxiety. Conversely, those with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) often report tiredness, low energy, and depression. Women are at a higher risk of developing hormonal depression because they are more prone to thyroid-related disorders.

You can improve thyroid function to manage depressive symptoms in the following ways:

  • Engage in regular, low-impact exercises – Mild physical activity can improve overall health without triggering a stress response.
  • Supplement with iodine, selenium, and zinc – Deficiency in these minerals can lead to hypothyroidism. However, excessive amounts can be harmful. Consult a licensed endocrinologist to establish healthy doses and prevent any adverse effects.
  • Boost vitamin and mineral uptake – Aim for food rich in vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium, and iron to treat any nutritional deficiencies.
  • Avoid goitrogens – These substances, found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., cabbage, Russian kale, Brussels sprouts), can disrupt optimal thyroid hormone activity.
  • Adopt a nutrient-dense diet – Choose non-starchy vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs, meat, poultry, and healthy fats.

Note: Find out how hormones affect gut health.

If symptoms persist, do not hesitate to seek medical assistance. Your endocrinologist might prescribe medication to keep your thyroid hormones in check.

How Is Hormonal Depression Diagnosed?

Diagnosing hormonal depression is challenging because symptoms overlap with those of major depressive disorder. Moreover, hormonal fluctuations can be erratic and unpredictable, lacking the consistency needed for accurate diagnosis. Coexisting factors, such as stress and lifestyle choices, can further complicate the matter.

It is vital to consult a medical professional before jumping to any conclusions. The typical diagnostic procedure involves:

  • Discussing the patient’s medical history
  • Discussing the symptoms’ frequency and duration
  • Physical examination
  • Running blood tests to check hormone levels

How to Treat Hormonal Depression?

Once your doctor establishes the underlying hormonal cause, they will create a personalized treatment. The following methods can relieve or eliminate depressive symptoms, depending on the condition’s severity and duration.

1. Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) uses lab-made plant-derived hormones to restore hormonal balance and alleviate symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, including depression. BHRT’s are not FDA-approved and are used off-label to treat hormone deficiencies. Many practitioners prefer BHRT over HRT because they are molecularly identical to naturally produced hormones and can be produced in compounding pharmacies in doses and forms that differ from those in FDA-approved formulations.

Reported mental benefits of BHRT include:

  • Improved emotional wellbeing
  • Increased mental focus
  • More energy
  • Better sleep quality
  • Increased resilience
  • Improved mood stabilization

Note: Vibrant Vitality Clinic offers a female bioidentical HRT package that includes a consultation, physical examination, and a 30-minute follow-up session.

2. Testosterone Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) optimizes testosterone levels and mitigates numerous psychological symptoms, such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and depression. It is typically prescribed to men whose testosterone production has naturally decreased with age.

Testosterone therapy for women is an increasingly popular off-label treatment that can enhance libido to improve mood and increase energy.

The many other testosterone therapy benefits lessen the impact of hormonal changes and reduce accompanying mood swings. Talk to an expert in the field to determine if TRT is a suitable option for you.

Note: Vibrant Vitality Clinic offers male HRT hormone therapy that includes a 45-minute evaluation, a physical examination, and a follow-up appointment.

3. Antidepressants

Antidepressants regulate the activity of neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, noradrenaline) to increase energy levels and improve overall mood. However, they should never be the first-line treatment for hormone-triggered mood disorders as they can lead to misdiagnosis and poor management of the condition.

Doctors may prescribe low-dose antidepressant medication (e.g., citalopram, venlafaxine) to reduce menopausal hot flashes and night sweats, indirectly contributing to emotional stability and wellbeing. Consult a qualified healthcare professional to determine if this treatment method is appropriate for you, the correct dosage, and the type of anti-depressive drug.

4. Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills, or oral contraceptives, have potent antidepressant efficacy in treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). They create a stable hormonal environment by suppressing ovulation, thereby reducing hormonal fluctuations that might cause mood swings, irritability, and depression.

Studies confirm that oral contraceptives that contain both synthetic estrogen and progesterone can improve mental health and contribute to sustained mood regulation.

While many women enjoy the accompanying benefits of the pill, such as stress reduction and enhanced mood, others report disrupted sleep, emotional sensitivity, and depression. Your medical provider will assess your symptoms and offer alternative options if you experience some of the unwanted side effects of oral contraception.

5. Non-Hormonal Contraception

If hormonal contraceptives are the primary cause of anxiety, low mood, or depression, consider the following non-hormonal birth control methods:

  • Male or female condoms
  • Diaphragms
  • Cervical caps
  • Sponges
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
  • Spermicides
  • Vasectomy

These non-hormonal alternatives vary in terms of effectiveness and convenience. Therefore, it is essential to talk to your doctor openly when choosing the most suitable contraceptive method.

6. Hormone Detox

A hormone detox is a holistic treatment for eliminating excess hormones and toxins from the body, restoring balance, and achieving a positive mental shift. Reported benefits include increased energy, better mood, and enhanced brain function.

You can maximize your hormonal potential with a powerful detox that includes the following:

Note: Relora is a popular supplement with numerous stress-relieving benefits. This potent blend of plant-based extracts is available at the Vibrant Skin Bar shop.

7. Vitamin B IV Therapy

Vitamin B IV therapy is an effective medical solution for replenishing essential nutrients and securing quick vitamin absorption needed for optimal brain function. The patient receives eight B complex vitamins intravenously. The vitamins enter the bloodstream directly, bypassing the digestive system and restoring mental functions immediately.

B complex vitamins can minimize mood-related health issues by maintaining brain function, improving energy levels, boosting cognitive function, and supporting serotonin and dopamine synthesis.

Note: Vitamin B12 injections will deliver optimal amounts of this vital vitamin to boost your mood and increase your energy.  

8. Stress Management

Elevated cortisol levels lead to chronic stress, reduced emotional resilience, and impaired cognitive function. Prolonged exposure to stress is a major contributing factor to hormonal depression. Therefore, it is crucial to learn how to lower cortisol, manage your stress response, and regain emotional stability.

Anti-stress techniques (e.g., meditation, hiking, massage, yoga) improve your mood by rebalancing neurotransmitter activity, strengthening your coping mechanisms, and decreasing cortisol production.

Supplements such as Osmosis MD Emotional Wellbeing Elixir can provide additional support by harmonizing negative thinking patterns and increasing serotonin levels. Seek professional psychological help to ensure the best results and prevent any supplement misuse.

Note: Excess cortisol can also lead to anxiety. Explore how supplements for anxiety can improve emotional regulation and ameliorate your overall mental state.


Disrupted hormonal activity can negatively impact mental performance, emotional health, and the ability to cope with everyday stressors.

Patients experience short bouts of depression due to temporary hormonal fluctuations that occur during certain life phases or because of certain health conditions. Treatment methods vary based on individual needs, symptoms severity, and associated health conditions.

Feel free to contact Vibrant Vitality Clinic with more questions or concerns.


This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. No physician-patient relationship is created by this website or its use.

Jenna Hilton
Jenna Hilton has been a practicing PA since 2009, specializing in Family, Internal Medicine and Medical Aesthetics. She attended Arizona State University where she received her Bachelor's Degree and graduated magna cum laude. She received her Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from A.T. Still University.

Jenna has been injecting neurotoxin and dermal filler since 2013. She received certification as a Master Injector in 2017 through Empire Medical in Los Angeles, California. She is currently working on a Fellowship Program in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Her special interests include use of PLLA, Ablative/Non ablative skin resurfacing, PDO threads, hormone therapy and nutritional therapies to improve cellular regeneration and medically supervised weight loss.

Jenna Hilton believes in a multi-factorial approach, considering internal factors that accelerate aging and disease development. She always enjoys teaching. She co-founded Vibrant EDU courses at Vibrant Skin Bar and regularly performs one-on-one training with fellow injectors. She teaches Aesthetic and Advanced Injectable Courses at National Laser Institute. She has been named Preceptor of the Year and is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Midwestern University. She was born in Iowa, and lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, AZ.

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