Hormones are heavily involved in maintaining your metabolism, which in turn affects your energy levels. With so many hormones involved in complex interactions, however, it can be difficult to isolate exactly which hormones are responsible for these changes. As one hormone specialist notes, diagnosing hormonal imbalances requires practitioners to act as “medical detectives.”
A few of the hormones that must be considered include:
Thyroid hormones: The hormones of the thyroid gland are responsible for maintaining homeostasis (or balance) in the body, affecting temperature, metabolism, heart rate, mood, and energy levels. When you experience hypothyroidism—abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones—many body systems slow down, typically leading to fatigue and low energy. Less energy consumed can lead to weight gain, slower digestion leads to constipation, and the decreasing serotonin levels may result in depression.
Adrenal hormones: Cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, responds to the body’s energy needs by regulating metabolism and hunger. Chronic stress can disrupt this system and damage your body’s ability to function optimally.
Testosterone: Although testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, its functions are essential in both men and women. Decreased testosterone levels may result in low sex drive, loss of muscle mass, and mood disturbances. But low testosterone can also cause low energy levels, which may have a serious impact on your everyday life.
Estrogen and progesterone: When estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate or drop sharply, many women experience uncomfortable symptoms, including hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and bone thinning/increased fracture risk. Significantly, both low and high estrogen levels may also affect your energy levels.
For women, hormone levels can shift dramatically during perimenopause and menopause, whereas men typically experience a slow and gradual decline beginning around age 30. As such, both men and women can develop troubling symptoms and often see their energy levels decline as we approach middle age.
Unfortunately, imbalances in a variety of hormones often have similar symptoms. Additionally, an imbalance of one hormone can potentially cascade into more complex conditions since many hormones directly impact the levels of others. Diagnosing hormone imbalance may involve ruling out other causes before specific treatments can be prescribed.