The primary hormone involved in depression, mood changes, PMS-like symptoms, anxiety and nervousness related to the menstrual cycle is progesterone. Progesterone comes from the ovaries before and after menopause. It is also produced, in lower amounts, in the brain and peripheral nerves. During the childbearing years the main job of progesterone is to prepare and maintain the uterus for pregnancy. Progesterone also affects brain function and it is here that its role in menopause symptoms is prominent. It produces a sense of calmness. The common symptom complaints perimenopausal women make are: irritability, impatience, depression/low mood/weepiness, anger out of proportion to the situation, feeling overwhelmed and anxious and feeling less able to cope than before. After starting on progesterone, I often hear "I feel more like myself again." Progesterone also has a sedating, anti-anxiety effect and promotes more restful, restorative sleep.
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