Hormonal Balance Is Critical to Quality of Life
Every autumn, the end of Daylight Saving Time is bad news for the 10 million people Psychology Today says suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). With shorter days and longer nights comes feelings of depression, sadness, and unexplainable fatigue. Those who find the condition debilitating spend the winter months waiting for spring to arrive.
SAD can certainly be challenging, but it provides us with a perfect illustration to demonstrate how important hormonal balance is to the quality of life. It turns out that SAD is most likely caused by increased production of melatonin in the brain combined with decreased production of serotonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate sleep cycles. Low light conditions trigger production of the hormone. Therefore, people who live in areas prone to shorter days during the winter months are also more prone to developing SAD. Less light means more melatonin, and more melatonin results in a hormonal imbalance that leads to all sorts of problems.
As for serotonin, it is a neurotransmitter in the brain partly responsible for regulating mood and contributing to a sense of well-being and happiness. Falling serotonin levels during the winter months only add to the problems created by increased levels of melatonin, creating the feelings of depression that are often associated with SAD.
Hormones Play a Critical Role
It’s easy to step back and see how a hormonal imbalance can play a role in SAD. But hormones do so much more than just regulate sleep. Hormones are critical for regulating growth and development, managing metabolism, maintaining sexual function, making reproduction possible, and regulating mood.
In men, hormonal imbalances in middle age are responsible for things such as loss of sexual desire, loss of muscle mass, and low energy levels. In women, the hormonal imbalances created by perimenopause lead to dozens of different symptoms. Mood swings, hot flashes, and irritability are just three examples.
The point to understand here is that hormonal balance is critical to the quality of life. When the hormones are out of whack, the rest of the body is thrown out of whack as well. Even the brain is affected to some extent due to the role hormones play in regulating mood. If you are experiencing quality-of-life issues, one of the first things to be looked at is the possibility of a hormonal imbalance.
Restoring Hormonal Balance
When hormonal imbalances are causing health issues, getting the hormones back in balance usually alleviates those other problems. So how do we do this? Well, drugs are an option that is
quite common in the medical field. But they are not the only option. For example, light therapy has proved effective in treating up to 85% of people suffering from SAD. Simply by exposing patients to a particular kind of light for a specific amount of time every day, the condition can be greatly controlled.
Proper nutrition is also another way to help restore the normal imbalance. The human body is very capable of producing all of the hormones it needs in the correct volume. However, when people do not have good nutritional habits, the body is inhibited from producing those hormones. Simply by practicing proper nutrition, routine, and lifestyle changes, we can help the body do what it does naturally.
Obviously, there are medical conditions that inhibit hormonal balance. Those medical issues need to be dealt with utilizing a medical strategy. But outside of those medical issues, the best way to maintain a good hormonal balance is to eat well, drink enough clean water, get plenty of rest and exercise, maintain a regular routine of eating and sleeping, have fun, and get out of the house.