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While you are probably familiar with hormones and their role in the body, you may not know as much about neurotransmitters, which help maintain correct hormone levels. While there is some overlap between neurotransmitters and hormones, the former belongs to the nervous system and the latter to the endocrine system.

Both are the messenger molecules of their respective systems. When neurotransmitters are imbalanced, they may cause significant hormone imbalances by association. A bioidentical hormone therapy doctor could measure your neurotransmitter levels via a simple urine test and identify what is out of balance and requires correction.

What are Neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters send messages from one neuron to the next and other body cells. These chemical messengers work constantly and keep the body functioning. When doctors refer to a chemical imbalance, they are really referring to neurotransmitter issues.

Neurotransmitters fall into different categories depending on their role. Excitatory neurotransmitters cause a neuron to take action. Those with low levels of excitatory neurotransmitters may lack focus or general interest in life. Those with high levels may become anxious or agitated and are especially affected by caffeine consumption.

Inhibitory neurotransmitters decrease the ability of neurons to take action. Those with low levels of inhibitory neurotransmitters often cannot stay calm, and have trouble staying or falling asleep. Those with high levels of inhibitory neurotransmitters are often tired and unmotivated.

Types of Neurotransmitters That Could Affect the Body

The most common types of neurotransmitters include:

  • Serotonin: Has a calming effect, and is necessary for the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone; low serotonin levels may result in depression and sleep disturbances
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): Aids in sleep and pain control; lack of GABA may cause insomnia, along with irritability or anxiety
  • Dopamine: An inhibitory neurotransmitter associated with reward in the brain; recreational drugs, along with alcohol and nicotine, increase the amount of dopamine in the body, and low dopamine levels may correlate with social anxiety
  • Glutamate: The most common neurotransmitter, similar to GABA; too much glutamate can lead to disease of the neurological system
  • Norepinephrine: Released by the adrenal glands into the bloodstream, norepinephrine can bring the body into its state of highest alert and affects blood pressure and heart rate
  • Acetylcholine: The first neurotransmitter identified by scientists, acetylcholine affects muscle stimulation throughout the body; patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease generally have low levels of acetylcholine

Neurotransmitter Imbalance Symptoms

Those suffering from imbalanced neurotransmitters may suffer from a variety of symptoms, which include:

  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Cognitive issues.

Hormonal Imbalances in Women

Women may suffer from hormonal imbalances at various times in their lives, especially perimenopause. During perimenopause, which occurs in the years leading up to complete menopause, women’s estrogen levels may fluctuate wildly. This fluctuation affects serotonin levels as well and may lead to mood swings, depression, and sleep issues.

Talk to Dr. Jacobson Today

Neurotransmitters and hormone imbalances are often related. Fortunately, plant-derived bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may help put men and women dealing with neurotransmitter and hormonal imbalances back on an even keel.

If you suspect you have a hormone imbalance and would like more information on diagnosis and treatment, call Dr. Edward Jacobson today and make an appointment at his Connecticut office. He is also available for consultations in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, and Manhattan.