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How do external events play a role in my mood?

Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

Even with a normal baseline production of neurotransmitters and a normal receptor activity, chronic stressors or chronic pain can alter your brain's physiology, allowing major depression to develop. In other words, external events play a big role in your mood; it is certainly not all about genetics. For example, if your environment is stressful for too long, the high levels of cortisol you produce may shrivel your hippocampus and make it less able to regulate mood chemicals such as serotonin. This can happen to an adult. It can also happen to an unborn child if the pregnant mother is subjected to extreme amounts of stress.

Fortunately, if babies are placed in a calm, supportive, nurturing environment after birth, their brains can be reshaped and the condition can be corrected. There are also studies linking decreases in serotonin levels to rapidly falling estrogen levels in women's perimenopausal period, suggesting that sudden estrogen drops can contribute to mood issues. Finally, certain medications can cause mood changes. So, if you are struggling with your mood, make sure you mention this to your doctor so that he or she can help you sort things out.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.