Physiology Phriday: Hormones and Behavior

Sex hormones influence our mood and memory as well as a things like sexual desire. It is fairly clear that women with decreasing levels of estrogen (during their cycle or in perimenopause) have a higher propensity for depressed affect. It seems estrogen has an impact on the serotonergic receptors in the brain. Further, menopausal women suffering from low sexual desire report increased desire when given testosterone patches.

Clearly, our bodies are designed to function at their best with the right mix of hormones. But, given our fallen, less than perfect, bodies, men and women have to deal with mood, memory, and behavior challenges when hormones are “off.” This does not mean we are controlled by hormones and unable to function well if they are suboptimal. But, it does mean thinking and responding well may be more difficult.

Consider this hypothetical. A 15 year old challenges a 43 year old, out of shape, man to a game of one-on-one basketball. At that moment, testosterone fires through his body. He is more likely to accept that challenge and play beyond his conditioning so as to crush that 15 year old (to prove his male superiority to the 15 year old and to prove to himself he’s still got it, whatever it is.) in a best of 3 series. He gloats in victory only to cross the street and be unable to move for some time because he overextended himself and is experiencing severe ozygen deprivation.

How did testosterone work here? I don’t know but I’m looking for something to help me look less stupid 🙂

1 Comment

Filed under counseling science

One response to “Physiology Phriday: Hormones and Behavior

  1. Carmella

    …just wanted to say that I love the Physiology Phriday series. I am fascinated by the physiological bases of behavior, and enjoy hearing your commentary on different physiological issues.

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