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Hormones Associated with Depression

Corticosteroids (which include cortisol) are among the body's most important and powerful stress hormones; when a person experiences stress, the body produces more corticosteroids, and this causes a wide range of changes in various body systems in order to handle the stressful situation.  If this stress response is too intense or continues for too long, it can induce a state of Depression.  This occurs via corticosteroids direct effect on brain systems that regulate mood, such as the limbic system, prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, by inhibiting neural growth in these areas and also by inhibiting the actions of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine [ref]. 

The reproductive hormones, including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, are also known to have a significant impact on a person's mood.  When a man's testosterone level falls below normal limits, he is at an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms [ref].  Women are also at greater risk for depressive symptoms when their estrogen levels fall, such as during their menstrual cycle after ovulation, during menopause, and following pregnancy.   The reproductive hormones may also have something to do with the fact that women are twice as likely as men to experience a Depression.

Thyroid hormone is important in regulating the body's metabolism. Depressive Episodes are associated with abnormalities in thyroid functioning, and abnormal thyroid levels can also cause Depressive Epsiodes [ref].

Cytokines, which are important signaling hormones of the body's immune system, may also have a role in the cause of Depression.  Cytokines such as Interleukin-1 (IL-1), Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) can cause many depressive symptoms in an individual [ref], and there is evidence that these cytokines are found in greater concentrations in people with Depression compared with people who are not depressed [ref]. These finds have led some researchers to speculate that Depression may be related to other inflammatory diseases.



Psychological Roots