Low estrogen levels often throw the body "off track." Estrogen is a hormone is found in both men and women, though women have higher amounts than men, as the hormone is essential for menstruation and reproduction cycles. Estrogen serves many additional purposes in women, from preventing hair from growing on their chests to the development of breasts and the ability to conceive a child. Lack of estrogen, as is often experienced by post-menopausal women, causes a variety of symptoms, from hot flashes to mood swings and other emotional changes.
Estrogen has antidepressive effects on neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain that create a feel-good emotion aided by serotonin, a chemical in the brain whose function is enhanced through the presence of estrogen. Estrogen also enhances norepinephrine activity inside the brain, which stabilizes and improves mood and a sense of well-being. Lowered levels of estrogen have the opposite effect on the body, causing feelings of sadness, listlessness and overall dismal moods.
Unbalanced estrogen levels in women has also been linked to anxiety. Poor concentration is often factored into hormone-related anxiety issues, and in the case of menopause is often caused by physical symptoms like difficulty sleeping, varying severity of hot flashes and night sweats, episodes of extreme emotional swings caused by the chemical imbalance in the body coupled with general malaise. Such long-term conditions often lead to states of anxiety.
A loss of a sense of well-being is often experienced by women with low estrogen levels, which also contributes to a state of worry or anxiety. Some women begin to experience panic attacks as the loss of estrogen in the body wreaks havoc with their sense of confidence thought processes and ability to remember.
Low estrogen levels can cause a sense of low self-esteem. Low levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO), caused by a decrease of estrogen in the body, damage and destroy neurotransmitters, which offer chemicals that affect mood and behavior, such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals regulate mood, behaviors and emotions, and when levels fluctuate, so do human responses, attitudes and feelings. A woman already facing the loss of her childbearing years, the real threat of aging and additional physical symptoms that accompany menopause may have a detrimental affect on self-confidence and self-esteem for many women.