If you’re wondering if antidepressants can cause hormonal imbalance, the simple response is yes. About 8% of Americans 20 years and older experience major depression and 13% take antidepressant medications. Clearly, depression is a serious issue in Americans but what if your treatment causes more problems than it helps?
In this article, we will discuss this overarching question that many people have:
Can antidepressants cause hormone imbalance? The Short Answer: Yes, antidepressants can cause hormone imbalance in some cases, as antidepressants actually increase serotonin levels.
But, before we can get into the details, we first need to discuss what causes hormonal imbalances and the pros and cons of antidepressants.
What is Hormone Imbalance?
Hormone imbalance is when you have abnormally low or high levels of important hormones. Your hormones affect how your body functions, so when there is an imbalance it can cause a series of unpleasant symptoms.
Your hormones are chemical messengers in your body that tell your organs what to do. This controls your metabolism, reproduction, and even your mood. While small fluctuations are normal, long-lasting and severe changes can pose a problem.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
So, why may you be experiencing a hormone imbalance?
There are many causes of a hormonal imbalance such as:
- Cancer treatments
- Eating disorders
Depending on the person, hormone imbalances will affect people differently.
Common Signs of Hormone Imbalance
Symptoms of hormone imbalance can range in levels of severity, often based on how significant the imbalance is.
Common symptoms of hormone imbalance may include:
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Increased or decreased heart rate
- Frequent urination
- Decreased sex drive
- Blurred vision
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
Those with low levels of key hormones often also experience symptoms of depression.
This brings us to our next point: antidepressants.
There are three commonly used antidepressants:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Used to increase levels of serotonin. These are medications like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, Celexa, and Lexapro.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- These increase levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. This comes in medications like Effexor, Cymbalta, and Pristiq.
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- These also increase serotonin and norepinephrine with medications such as Elavil, Anafranil, Norpramin, Pamelor, Sinequan, and Surmontil.
Depression is caused by an imbalance of chemical messengers such as serotonin. Antidepressants work to increase these neurochemicals so the nerve cells in your brain can pass signals to the rest of your body.
Tip: Be sure to trust a behavioral healthcare provider to prescribe the above medications that uses measurement based care.
The Pros and Cons Of Using Antidepressants
Antidepressants, just like any medication, come with their pros and cons. While you should discuss any medications you are considering taking with a doctor, here are a few pros and cons of antidepressants to be aware of.
Pros of Antidepressants
Antidepressants work with neurotransmitters in your brain to help stabilize symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many antidepressants increase levels of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, or a combination of these neurochemicals which can treat depression, anxiety disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and chronic pain.
Many individuals who take antidepressants noticed improvements in their mental health and a decrease in symptoms.
Cons of Antidepressants
While there are people who experience benefits from antidepressants, there are many that feel as though it does nothing. Even worse, there are those that have noted it causes more damaging symptoms.
Side effects of antidepressants may include:
- Dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Suppressed appetite
- Increased blood pressure
- Sexual dysfunction
More importantly, many people who take antidepressants experience depression as a side effect. This brings us to the main point of our article, can antidepressants cause hormonal imbalance.
What the Research Shows: Can Antidepressants Cause Hormone Imbalance?
SSRIs, SNRIs, and TCAs increase levels of hormones, especially serotonin. While serotonin is a good thing in moderation, too much of any hormone can cause issues. Other antidepressant medications, like Olanzapine and Lithium Carbonate, can also affect the hormones in your body.
High prolactin levels coming from antidepressants can affect the production of hormones.
So what is the solution?
How to Alleviate Hormone Imbalance and Depression
Instead of covering up symptoms of depression with medication, treat the underlying causes with holistic functional medicine. There are several treatments that can help to alleviate depression and anxiety without negative side effects, such as:
- Specialized diets
- Hormone therapy
While not all of these may work for you or give immediate results, talk to a doctor to see if hormone therapy is right for you.
Hormone therapy, such as Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT), restores the hormone balance that your body needs to function properly. You can get your hormone levels tested through blood or saliva. Then a doctor can determine what hormones you need to bring your body back into balance.
Hormone therapy can treat depression and anxiety at their root cause to help alleviate symptoms and stabilize your mood. What makes hormone therapy better than typical medication is the treatment can be personalized to your unique needs.
Treat Your Hormone Imbalance With Whole Health JC
Whether or not you and your doctor decide antidepressants are right for you we recommend getting hormonal treatment. Antidepressants work best when combined with hormone therapy in treating anxiety and depression.
Our clinic offers Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy treatment options for both men and women. Through a simple lab test, we can assess your hormone levels and create a BHRT treatment that fits your individual needs! Contact us at 573-893-5500.