The hypothalamus is directly innervated by neuronal systems that produce neurotransmitters, such as serotonin (5-HT), dopamine and norepinephrine (NE), that are involved in mood regulation and play various other roles in cognitive health. During the acute stress crisis, the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system is stimulated to help maintain morale. However, during chronic stress or depression, the reward system is down-regulated by stress mediators, resulting in anhedonia.…

Tags: HPA Axis, Hormone Balance, Stress, Neurotransmitters, Depression


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Neurotransmitters, Mood & the Perception of Stress - Part 3

Glutamate (L-glutamic acid) and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) are, respectively, the principal excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the CNS and play a significant role in HPA axis function and mood. These two amino acid-based neurotransmitters account for over 50% of the synapses in the brain, while the monoamines (serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine) account for only about 5%.…

Tags: HPA Axis, Hormone Balance, Stress, Neurotransmitters, Depression


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Neurotransmitters, Mood & the Perception of Stress - Part 2

When we talk about “stress,” or allostatic load, in terms of the perception of an event, we must realize that these “events” must first be translated into neurochemical signals before they trigger the HPA axis. Therefore, the sensitivity and outcome of translating these events (whether they are ongoing events, memories of past events, or stressful anticipation of unrealized events), is highly dependent upon signaling from other neurotransmitters.…

Tags: HPA Axis, Hormone Balance, Stress, Neurotransmitters, Depression


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Neurotransmitters, Mood & the Perception of Stress

It may be summer outside, but for many of us winter is coming in July this year. Finally, this is the weekend when the new season of Game of Thrones arrives! The richly twisted story makes you love to hate the Lannisters, and root for the Starks and Targaryen (or is it Targaryens?). And while I'm counting down the days, I can’t help but recount my careful dissections from the end of last…

Tags: Mental Health, SAD, HPA Axis, PMS and PMDD


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Mental Health & Hormonal Imbalance in Game of Thrones

When clinicians measure salivary cortisol and DHEA (DHEA-S) to assess stress and HPA axis function, it is common to find DHEA levels below the reference range in a number of individuals. A common explanation for the depletion of DHEA and other hormones (e.g., progesterone, testosterone) due to chronic stress is the phenomenon known as "pregnenolone steal." The pregnenolone steal notion states that…

Tags: HPA Axis, Hormone Balance, Stress, Pregnenolone Steal, Adrenal and Cortisol


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Re-assessing the Notion of "Pregnenolone Steal"

Sometimes, when we endeavor to understand and describe complicated medical topics, there is a temptation to find a simple explanation to cut through the complexity. These explanations can help bridge the knowledge gap for a while, but as our knowledge grows, they lose some of their original usefulness (e.g., the notion of “good” and “bad” cholesterol). In some cases, those over-simplified…

Tags: Stress, HPA Axis, Hormone Balance, Adrenal and Cortisol


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Is it Adrenal Fatigue? Reassessing the Nomenclature of HPA Axis Dysfunction.

The nervous system and its communication with peripheral organs is under the continuous dynamic influence of hormones, neuroactive steroids, and neurotransmitters. This is why the underlying pathology of mood disorders can often be varied and complex. The hormonal piece is critical to our understanding of the imbalances when it comes to the complete neurotransmitter assessment. Hormones regulate…

Tags: Neurotransmitters, Dried Urine Testing, Hormone Balance, HPA Axis


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A Dynamic Duo: When to Test Neurotransmitters with Sex Hormones

Stress has become a synonymous, integral even, accompaniment of life in our fast-paced world. Generally regarded as "distress," our bodies struggle to re-establish physiological integrity at certain times, such as after working long hours, or when we have insufficient exercise, sleep and nutrition. Driven by persistent exposure to stressors, the body begins to lose its dynamic resilience and fails…

Tags: Neurotransmitters, Sleep, Stress, HPA Axis


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Diurnal Fluctuations in Norepinephrine & Epinephrine as Part of the Healthy Stress Response

Historically a taboo subject, menstruation has long been stigmatized as unclean and negative; provoking multiple complex cultural values. Since starting to talk publically about periods, we know so much more about the biochemical basics and physical aspects of menstruation. We are now also beginning to better understand the underlying interplay of sex-hormones with neurotransmitters that create…

Tags: Neurotransmitters, Mental Health, HPA Axis, PMS and PMDD


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Feel Awful at "That Time of The Month"? It's More than Just Your Hormones.

Reliable contraception is a monumental achievement of the last century. Very effective at preventing pregnancy, oral contraceptives, generally referred to as "the Pill," are commonly prescribed to women of reproductive age. Aside from contraceptive purposes, the Pill can also be used to treat gynecological disorders such as irregular or excessive bleeding, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), severe…

Tags: Fertility, Neurotransmitters, HPA Axis, Contraceptives


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How Pill Contraceptives Affect Mood & Behavior

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