Most hormones progressively decline after adolescents and the modern diet and lifestyle often accelerate that decline. As a result, many adults have at least one hormone deficiency and if you lead an unhealthy lifestyle or are over the age of 60 you may have several hormones that are out of balance. It is essential that you identify and reverse hormone deficiencies because they can wreak havoc on nearly every aspect of your health, increase your risk for chronic disease, and make you look and feel years older than you otherwise would.
If you suffer from the following symptoms and there is no other identifiable cause, then a hormone deficiency may be to blame:
#1 Weight Gain
A deficiency of thyroid hormones is a common, underdiagnosed condition, and if you’ve experienced weight gain despite eating healthy and exercising, you may want to have a complete thyroid panel test done. Adrenal hormone deficiencies can also cause weight gain by triggering strong cravings for sweets and refined carbs. A leptin deficiency can cause weight gain by shutting down the body's satiation signals. And a deficiency of testosterone, IGF-1, DHEA, and/or human growth hormone (HGH) can all lead to weight gain by lowering the metabolism.
#2 Moodiness and/or IrritabilityAll of the hormones work together to create balance and harmony, and having just one that is out of whack can lead to a cascading effect which will inevitably affect your mood. This makes identifying a specific hormone deficiency that is responsible for mood swings quite difficult. However, you may want to start by ruling out thyroid and adrenal hormone deficiencies (and DHEA in particular). If you find yourself becoming progressively irritable then a lack of testosterone or estrogen may be to blame. A melatonin deficiency can also cause moodiness indirectly, by interfering with your ability to get a restful night’s sleep.
#3 Low Libido or Sexual DysfunctionThe reproductive system is fueled by hormones and a lack of libido, and sexual dysfunction are common symptoms of hormonal imbalance. A deficiency of testosterone is arguably the most common hormonal cause of a diminished sex drive, but estrogen (surplus or deficiency), progesterone, cortisol, and thyroid hormone deficiencies can also quash the libido.
Unfortunately, a deficiency of these hormones is quite common, and environmental toxins, an unhealthy diet, and poor lifestyle choices can all reduce your levels of them.
#4 Ongoing FatiguePersistent fatigue that is not relieved by adequate sleep is a major red flag that you have one or more hormone deficiencies. A deficiency of cortisol, thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), and testosterone are all direct causes of fatigue. Deficiencies of other hormones can cause fatigue indirectly by interfering with sleep quality, by decreasing your ability to digest nutrients in food that are required for energy, and/or by forcing your body to work overtime to perform basic functions.
#5 Insomnia Or Disruptive SleepThe circadian rhythm signals the body when it’s time to sleep and it is directly linked to the endocrine system (the collection of glands that secrete hormones). For this reason, hormone imbalances often result in sleep disorders like insomnia. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep and low levels almost guarantee insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns. Other hormone imbalances that may be responsible for insomnia include - testosterone, estrogen, thyroid hormones, growth hormones, and adrenal hormones.
#6 Depression and AnxietyImbalances in the body stress hormones -- adrenaline, cortisol, and DHEA can cause a variety of mental health-related symptoms, including depression, apathy, and anxiety. A deficiency of thyroid hormones and testosterone can also cause emotional disturbances and depression. And low levels of estrogen can cause depression in both genders because estrogen affects the ‘happiness’ neurotransmitter serotonin; it may also trigger anxiety in females.
#7 Hot Flashes and/or Night SweatsAn estrogen deficiency is the leading hormonal cause of night sweats and it is very common during menopause. When estrogen levels are low, confusing messages are sent to your hypothalamus, which causes it to believe the body is overheating and sweat is produced in an attempt to cool it down. Worth noting is the fact that an estrogen deficiency can occur outside of menopause, and it can be triggered by excessive exercise, eating disorders, low body fat, testicular damage (men can suffer from this deficiency too), and thyroid disorders.
#8 Unusual or Increased CravingsHormone imbalances in the adrenals, thyroid, and pancreas can cause cravings for salty and sweet foods, as well as insatiable hunger. Estrogen and progesterone deficiencies can also lead to cravings. Insulin imbalances and/or insulin resistance can lead to strong cravings for refined carbohydrates and sugar. And resistance to leptin, a condition where you have enough of the hormone, but your body doesn’t respond to it properly, can cause out of control food cravings.
#9 Poor Immune FunctionCortisol is the stress hormone that regulates inflammation and plays a major role in immunity. A chronic deficiency of cortisol, as is seen in those with adrenal exhaustion, means there is nothing to prevent severe, chronic inflammation. This can lead to an out of control immune response, increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and a potentially deadly cytokine storm (a major cause of severe COVID-19 infections). 7 Sex hormones also play a role in the immune response and a deficiency of estrogen and testosterone may compromise immune defenses.
If you suspect that you may have a hormone deficiency, book an appointment with one of our certified health coaches. He or she will give you a symptom questionnaire and then likely use a combination of saliva, urine, and/or blood tests to confirm suspected hormone imbalances. They will then create a personalized plan for you that includes diet and lifestyle recommendations, as well as nutraceuticals. I also recommend you get your hands on a copy of the book Stay Young – it contains invaluable information on how to balance your hormones naturally. If you’re currently suffering from a hormone deficiency (and most of us are), correcting that deficiency will be the best gift you’ve ever given yourself!