Hormones & mental health throughout the journey of womanhood

Our bodies go through incredible changes over our lives. Our hormones are at the centre of it – these powerful chemical messengers have such a big impact on both our physical health and how we feel emotionally.

Through my own journey, both personally and professionally, I’ve seen just how much our hormones can affect our mental wellbeing and on the journey of womanhood, there are many changes we need to navigate with care and sensitivity.

Women’s health is an area that has been at the forefront of my career and the strength of the women in the JSHealth community inspires me daily. Let’s celebrate the different stages of life and see each as an opportunity to show ourselves deeper understanding, compassion and self-care.

Ready to delve in? Read on to explore how hormone levels change from your first period all the way through to menopause, and how this connects with your mental health. 


The teenage years mark a period of great change – in social life, our emotions and biologically. When puberty starts, the body experiences shifts on the hormonal level, signalling the start of the ability to reproduce.

As the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis in the body is activated, it gets ready for its first menstrual cycle by increasing levels of oestrogen and progesterone hormones. This time in life involves not only physical changes but also a higher chance of experiencing mood disorders. The way the HPG axis (related to puberty) and the HPA axis (related to stress, we will cover this in more detail later!) communicate with each other during adolescence has been shown to affect mental health. This makes the teenage years a very important time for mental and emotional growth. 

Research indicates a link between the start of puberty and an increased risk of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety1. This is because of the hormonal fluctuations, along with the mental and social challenges that come with the teenage years. 

The monthly menstrual cycle 

The menstrual cycle is a monthly sign of the complex hormonal changes that impact a woman’s body. From the high energies of the follicular phase to the more introspective luteal phase, a woman’s mental state may often mirror the ebb and flow of her sex hormones.

During the cycle, from the start of their period to the time they ovulate, the levels of two hormones oestrogen and progesterone begin to rise and drop. 

For some, these hormonal changes can cause premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or its more severe form, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). These conditions come with emotional and physical symptoms that can significantly affect everyday life2. Understanding and tracking these hormonal changes can empower women to manage their mental health more proactively. We are our own biggest advocates! 

Pregnancy and postpartum

Throughout pregnancy, a surge of oestrogen and progesterone floods the body, influencing both physical and emotional changes. This hormonal whirlwind can lead to mood swings, anxiety and even prenatal depression affecting up to 1 in 10 pregnant women3.

After the baby is born, hormone levels quickly drop, paired with the new responsibilities of being a mom – all of which can be overwhelming. This unique combination can make them more vulnerable to postpartum depression, a condition affecting around one in seven women4. It’s so important to understand these risks so we can offer the right support to those who need it during these times. Creating a supportive environment and encouraging open conversations about these experiences can help new mums to navigate these challenges with confidence and reassurance. 


As women approach their late 40s and early 50s, they begin the transition to menopause, marked by the end of menstrual cycles. This period, known as perimenopause, involves many incredible hormonal changes in the body that can last for up to several years, which can then lead to a range of symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, mood swings and changes in sexual desire.

Studies have shown that these hormonal changes can increase the risk of developing depression during menopause5. Just as adolescence is a transformative time of change, so is menopause. It’s a period where women undergo significant transformations, not just physically but emotionally too, due to shifts in hormone levels. These changes can truly challenge a woman’s sense of stability and identity – so understanding what’s happening in our bodies at every phase is so important! 

Menopause can also be a powerful time of growth and new beginnings. It offers an opportunity to connect deeply with yourself, reassess your life goals and embrace the wisdom that comes with this phase.

The impact of stress hormones 

While stress can be an ever-present factor in our lives today, understanding the link it has to your hormones is key to managing its impact in your day to day life. It triggers a response from our stress system, known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which can also influence our sex hormones and mental health6.

If our experience with stress becomes chronic, it can lead to problems such as irregular menstrual cycles, worsened PMS symptoms, more frequent depressive episodes and has been linked to an earlier onset of menopause. This is because of the continuous release of hormones such as cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, which gradually weakens our bodies’ hormonal balance and causes us to become more prone to mental health issues7.

To keep our hormones in balance and protect our mental health, it’s important to manage stress. That’s why committing just 10-30 minutes a day in the Stress-Free Zone is part of the JSHealth Philosophy. Disconnect from your phone, emails and work demands and rejuvenate with some rest, gentle yoga or even a meditation (all of which you can find in the JSHealth App!). Practices like mindfulness, regular movement in ways you love as well as eating a balanced diet are powerful ways to safeguard our mental health and hormonal balance. 

Caring for our hormones & mental health

By recognising and learning more about how our hormones can affect us, we can work towards building a stronger connection with ourselves – in body and mind. By doing this, we respect the natural and beautiful processes of our bodies throughout womanhood with strength and compassion. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, please seek professional support or contact: 

  • 13 11 14 – Lifeline for 24 hour crisis support 
  • 1300 22 4636 – Beyond Blue for 24 hour counselling, mental health information and resources 
  • 1800 011 511 – NSW Mental Health Line for 24 hour professional help, advice and referrals to local mental health services 
  • 1800 184 527 – QLife, 3pm – midnight every day for counselling and referral services for LGBTI people. Peer supported telephone and web-based services to diverse people of all ages. 


  1. Thapar, A., Collishaw, S., Pine, D.S. and Thapar, A.K. (2012). Depression in adolescence. The Lancet, [online] 379(9820), pp.1056–1067. doi:
  2. Epperson, C.N., Steiner, M., Hartlage, S.A., Eriksson, E., Schmidt, P.J., Jones, I. and Yonkers, K.A. (2012). Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Evidence for a New Category for DSM-5. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169(5), pp.465–475. doi:
  3. Szegda, K., Markenson, G., Bertone-Johnson, E.R. and Chasan-Taber, L. (2013). Depression during pregnancy: a risk factor for adverse neonatal outcomes? A critical review of the literature. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 27(9), pp.960–967. doi:
  4. Mughal S, Azhar Y, Siddiqui W. Postpartum Depression. [Updated 2022 Oct 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:
  5. Freeman, E.W., Sammel, M.D., Liu, L., Gracia, C.R., Nelson, D.B. and Hollander, L. (2004b). Hormones and Menopausal Status as Predictors of Depression in Women in Transition to Menopause. Archives of General Psychiatry, 61(1), p.62. doi:
  6. Whirledge, S. and Cidlowski, J.A. (2010). Glucocorticoids, stress, and fertility. Minerva endocrinologica, [online] 35(2), pp.109–25. Available at: [Accessed 1 Mar. 2024].
  7. Cohen, J.I. (2000). STRESS AND MENTAL HEALTH: A BIOBEHAVIORAL PERSPECTIVE. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 21(2), pp.185–202. doi:

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *