Hormone Imbalance and Alzheimer's Disease

Hormone imbalance is a violation of the normal state of hormones in the blood that leads to serious changes in the human body. Alzheimer’s disease may be the result of this imbalance that affects the patient’s well-being. The imbalance of thyroid hormones has a significant impact on the mental sphere. A person suffers from hypothyroidism and experiences fatigue without objective reasons, as well as suffering from apathy, short-term memory problems, attention deficit disorder, and other issues. These problems have a negative impact on the person’s life style and cause stress and depression. There are no reliable ways to detect Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage. However, symptoms of mental decline should not be ignored. This paper aims to show that there is the relationship between hormone imbalance and Alzheimer’s disease.

Hormone Imbalance

Hormones are biologically active substances produced by specialized cells or organs (endocrine glands) that have a purposeful influence on activities of other organs and tissues.  A human has a developed system of glands (pituitary, adrenal, reproductive, thyroid, etc.) that secret hormones into the blood, regulating vital processes such as growth, development, and metabolism (Nagele, Han, DeMarshall, Belinka, & Nagele, 2011). The activity of the biosynthesis of a hormone is determined by the body’s stage of development, its physiological condition, and needs. Hormones have different chemical structures that lead to the fact that they have different physical properties. The research asserts that each hormone affects the body in a complex interaction with other hormones (Billioti de Gage et al., 2014). Thus, the hormonal system together with the nervous system allows the body activities as a whole. The chemical nature of different hormones consists of proteins, peptides, amino acid derivatives, steroids, and lipids. Hormones, the synthesis of which is performed by the endocrine system, ensure physical, sexual, and mental maturation, allowing the body to adapt to environmental conditions.

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Hormone imbalance can be caused by endocrine disorders that can affect physical and emotional well-being. It may also lead to nutrition disorders such as a deficiency in protein-calorie malnutrition and B-vitamins (Silverman, 2011). Hormone violations can be observed through blood chemistry, determination of endocrine disorders, and monitoring of blood composition. Patients may develop dementia because of hormone imbalance, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. These symptoms are very similar to those of degenerative forms. Silverman (2011) reports that at early stages patients may experience difficulties with the comprehension of new information, performance of previously common tasks, as well as losing directions and misplacing items.

Admittedly, the disease progresses rather quickly and patients may experience more complications with time. Among more severe symptoms, the following abnormalities can occur: (1) insomnia or poor sleep, (2) difficulties with performing common home tasks, (3) loss of memory relating to different things and forgetting of information, (4) frequent confusion and poor judgement, and (5) difficulties with reading and writing (Nagele et al., 2011).

Effects of Imbalance of Thyroid Hormones

The imbalance of thyroid hormones has a significant impact on the mental sphere. A person suffering from hypothyroidism can sleep for a long time, but this sleep is not refreshing. During waking hours, the person experiences fatigue without objective reasons, apathy, short-term memory problems, and attention deficit disorder. Silverman (2011) believes that thyroid hormones act as neurotransmitters and an imbalance of these hormones sometimes mimics a mental illness as T3 affects the levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that significantly impacts mood and behavior. As a result, low levels of T3 can lead to depression. Some antidepressants worsen the patients’ state since they reduce T3 levels. Paradoxically, some substances that are considered as depressants, including alcohol or opiates, can increase the level of T3 as they prevent the splitting of T3 in the brain and thus elevate mood and improve mental well-being. It is one of the reasons that these substances are easily addictive, which means that they are difficult to get rid of.

Severe hypothyroidism can cause symptoms similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including memory impairment, confusion, delayed action, paranoid depression, and, in extreme cases, hallucinations (Billioti de Gage et al., 2014). The likelihood of developing hypothyroidism increases with age. Thus, 17 percent of women and 9 percent of men experience these symptoms after the age of 70 (Kosik, 2015). The imbalance of thyroid hormones has a serious impact on the cardiovascular system as these hormones help control heart rate and blood pressure. In hypothyroidism, heart rate may slow down and in some cases an arrhythmia can develop. The literature reveals that blood pressure may drop from normal levels of 120/90 to 70/50 (Nagele et al., 2011). Hypothyroidism also weakens iris and, as a result, breathing becomes shallower. The patient begins to snore more often and for longer periods of time, as well as getting tired quickly because the body tissues do not get enough oxygen. Consequently, fatigue becomes a constant companion of people with symptomatic hypothyroidism. Patients often suffer from pain in muscles and joints.

The Reasons of Hormone Imbalance

The most common causes of secondary depression are a disorder of hormonal balance in lesions of organs and glands of internal secretion (Kosik, 2015). There are two types of disturbances in the thyroid gland: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid activity is reduced and it produces very small quantities of hormones. On the contrary, in hyperthyroidism the thyroid gland produces an excess amount of hormones. Depression can occur in both cases, but observations show that it is often accompanied by hypothyroidism (Billioti de Gage et al., 2014). Depression and fatigue may be the first manifestation of this endocrine organ disease.

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Depression can also be caused by diseases of the adrenal glands. The endocrine glands that are located in close proximity to the kidneys are composed of two layers. The central part of the prostate or brain layer produces hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline in the brain that act as mediators. The peripheral portion of the adrenal glands or cortex also secretes hormones called corticosteroids. These hormones regulate the flow of nutrients in the body and provide response to emergencies such as stress.

The literature reveals that depression can occur as a response to medical complications due to diabetes (Gottfried, 2014). In diabetes, the pancreas reduces or completely stops the production of insulin, which is a hormone that regulates absorption of sugar (glucose) in the body. The development of diabetic eye disease (cataract), nerves disease (neuropathy), kidney disease (nephropathy), and other complications cause depression in a patient. Remarkably, people who are over 40 years old are characterized by the fact that the pancreas that produces insulin does not satisfy all the needs of the organism. The forms of depressive disorders occur in a quarter of all people with diabetes mellitus (Nagele et al., 2011). All these complications may result in Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Unfortunately, the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are unknown. However, the mechanism that leads to diffuse atrophy of the cerebral cortex is well-known. Thus, it is responsible for a gradually progressive irreversible loss of memory, thinking, speech, orientation in space and time, normal emotions, as well as all knowledge and practical skills. In the early twentieth century, German psychiatrist and pathologist Alois Alzheimer described changes in the brain that occurred under this disease (Kosik, 2015). Deposition occurs between neurons toxic amyloid β-protein, which forms amyloid plaques that destroy interneuron communication. This contributes to a breach of cell activity and cells gradually die. The area of atrophy gradually expands, which means the progression of dementia.

According to the research, Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to a decrease in mental abilities, memory loss, learning disabilities, loss of common sense, loss of the ability to communicate, and, as a result, deterioration of the quality of life (Gottfried, 2014).  It is a progressive disease accompanied by overexcited state, depression, and hallucinations. There is a total degeneration of brain cells associated with the loss of their power, especially in the left temporal region of the brain. Gottfried (2014) reports that after 60 years production of hormones, in particular of estrogen in women and androgen in men, declines, which directly affects the state of the brain. Previously, doctors have always believed that the increase of protein occurs only during pregnancy and could not understand how the level of this protein may be associated with the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.

Although this disease is difficult to detect at early stages, many professionals believe that doctors can identify Alzheimer’s disease through tests of the protein level (Billioti de Gage et al., 2014). People with the disease may experience a variety of behavioral disorders such as paranoia and dizziness. Such symptoms can interfere with leading a normal daily life, as well as causing sleep disorders. There are medications that help cope with some of the most bothering symptoms of the illness, including depression and such conduct disorders as aggression and overexcited states. Medications can ease the severity of the disease, but it is impossible to completely eliminate symptoms or prevent progression of the disease.  

Recommendations

The tendency to develop hormone malfunction can be congenital and be passed from a grandmother to a granddaughter. Sometimes, even common cold can lead to changes in hormone levels. It is known that unfavorable environment and poor diet may have a negative impact on hormonal health as well. Moreover, it also happens that failures occur even in the normal hormone levels because not only the amount of hormones matters, but also their metabolism in the body. For example, estrogen is broken into two types that are conventionally referred to as “good” and “bad” (Nagele et al., 2011). Thus, “bad” estrogen levels are fraught with big problems as they do not only have a negative impact on health, mood, and well-being of women, but can also provoke serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Kosik (2015) believes that an attempt to compensate for the lack of hormones with the help of the hormone replacement therapy does not always lead to positive results.

In order to keep hormones in balance, it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle, practice physical exercises, spend much time outdoors, and keep a healthy diet. It is desirable not only to observe all the commandments of healthy eating, but also pay attention to foods that can have a positive effect on the hormonal exchange. For example, to maintain the level of melatonin, which is hormone responsible for mood and healthy sleep, a special amino acid tryptophan that is a part of dairy products should become a daily component of nutrition. Furthermore, iodine is responsible for normal thyroid hormone and it can be found in seafood and fish. To avoid problems with estrogen, it is desirable to eat foods containing Diindolylmethane that is present in all types of cabbage (Kosik, 2015). To prevent hormone imbalance, it is essential to avoid stress and have a positive attitude in life. Scientists have discovered that good mood launches special biochemical processes that contribute to the development of the hormone of happiness (Nagele et al., 2011).

Conclusion

Hormone imbalance may cause serious health problems that affect people’s brain and lead to dementia. There are different reasons for this phenomenon and even simple cold may result in the imbalance of hormones. Besides, one of the main reasons of Alzheimer’s disease is stress. Therefore, it is important to develop a positive attitude in life in order to escape this disease. The research has shown that symptoms of mental decline should not be ignored because there is the relationship between hormone imbalance and Alzheimer’s disease.

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