3 Perspectives on Women's Health and Mood

See more of the “big picture” with an integrative health perspective.
woman smiles holding a plant
Pexels / Elle Hughes

Women’s health and mood, like women themselves, are multifaceted and bring together many related components to create a bigger picture. Those pictures are often further complicated by the need of taking care of children and family, putting women caregivers at even higher risk for poor physical and mental health, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The question then becomes not if women need to address specific health concerns, but how we can address interlinked issues for greater whole-woman health. Discussing their unique perspectives on women’s health and mood, an integrative team of professionals—including a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor, and medical doctor—share expert knowledge that can help guide you toward a healthier you.

How can chiropractic care improve mood?

Dr. Lynna Lies is a chiropractor who believes in individualized, corrective chiropractic treatment and wants women to know that their body’s pain management can also affect their mood. Citing additional data from the CDC, she notes that over three months, 58.9 percent of Americans experienced pain in 2019. And that pain, in general, can make us cranky. Says the chiropractor, who goes by Dr. Lynna, “Most of us have experienced a headache or backache that made us short with our coworkers or family members.” Chiropractic care is a great way to feel better without medication. She gives a scenario that might sound familiar:

“In the middle of the night, you’re walking back to bed from the bathroom. Then … WHAM! You stub your toe. Do you remember what you do next?  Most of us will probably stop and rub the impacted toe while potentially cursing copiously or shedding an occasional tear.” But why do we feel the need to rub at the injury? “There are tiny little sensors in your body that are called mechanoreceptors. Both pain and touch are types of mechanoreceptors, but they follow different pathways. Touch follows fast pathways, and pain is a little slower; touch beats the pain impulse back to the brain, and the comforting touch wins.”

For more serious aches and pains, chiropractic care can offer that mood-boosting touch to beat back pain, but it will also give you a little bonus. “When you get adjusted, your body releases chemicals like endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin,” explains Dr. Lynna. Most people know these as “happy chemicals,” and they can have a long-lasting effect. Chiropractic care can offer both immediate relief and long-lasting pain relief that will boost both your mood and your health.

Does skin reflect mental health?

“Absolutely,” says Catherine Chatal, MD, a plastic surgeon who has pivoted to integrative and lifestyle medicine. Dr. Chatal explains that your skin reflects both your dietary choices and overall health.  We’ve all likely experienced breakouts or problem skin during times of great stress, and our skin can act like a “window” to reflect how our body is processing these stressors. Dr. Chatal explains that treating the skin is just the first step. 

“The focus should be on the whole person,” explains Dr. Chatal. Personalized evaluation includes assessment of the patient’s satisfaction with the “seven pillars of wellness” which include considerations for sleep, nutrition, movement, relationships, environment, spirituality, and resiliency.

When addressing specific concerns, stress often comes to the forefront. “Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system which results in an increase in our stress hormones including cortisol.” We enter into fight, flight, or freeze mode. Dr. Chatal explains that while this is a normal response when, for example, we are being chased by a saber-toothed tiger, it is not a healthy long-term strategy. “Cortisol is meant to be increased for short periods of time; it’s not meant to be chronically elevated.”


woman crossed legged with one hand on chest and one hand on stomach practicing breathwork
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels


As women, caregivers, workers, and parents, many of us, unfortunately, live in a chronic state of elevated cortisol, a situation many have noted accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.  So, how does that affect your skin? Dr. Chatal explains that “cortisol causes increased oil production in your skin, which can lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts.” How can you decrease stress? By activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the "rest and digest mode.” Dr. Chatal advises engaging in soothing activities such as meditation, breath work, and yoga—essentially, activities that bring you joy. Your body will respond by slowing your heart and breathing rates, lowering your blood pressure and promoting digestion.

Don’t add “reducing stress” as yet another task to accomplish. Instead, add some self-care to your daily or weekly schedule. “Take a hot bath. Get a massage. Talk to a good friend. Watch your favorite movie. Essentially, be kind and gentle with yourself. Your skin will thank you for it,” adds Dr. Chatal.

How do hormones affect health and mood?

This personal and specific aspect of women’s health and mood tends to rotate revolve around a women’s monthly cycle. Dr. Beth Adler, a Naturopathic Doctor with a special passion for women’s health, explains that the first part of that monthly cycle happens on Day 1 through 14. These first 14 days are referred to as the follicular phase and involves the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which is driven by estrogen. “This means that estrogen increases in the follicular phase of the cycle. Estrogen is a neurotransmitter that affects serotonin and GABA receptors in the brain. If you have too much or too little, it can affect your mood.” 

For reference, if Day 1 is the first day of bleeding in the menstrual cycle, then for most people, Day 14 is when ovulation occurs.

Next, is Day 15-28, also called the luteal phase. Shares Dr. Adler, “Too much estrogen in the luteal phase is highly correlated with the severity of symptoms.” While the follicular phase is driven by FSH and estrogen, the luteal phase is marked by the Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which is driven by progesterone. 

Dr. Adler clarifies, “Progesterone has a calming neurosteroid effect on the GABA receptors. Whether a person becomes pregnant during this phase is determined by whether the corpus luteum is destroyed or continues to develop, and how much progesterone stays in the system during the rest of the cycle.”

Problems during these phases can have a significant impact on a woman’s mood and health. Dr. Adler notes that the following issues can indicate a problem:

  • Estrogen dominance/too much estrogen: heavy periods, irregular menstrual cycles, pre-menstrual disorder/syndrome, increased cramping, mood swings, depression, sadness, anxiety, anger/irritability, lethargy, breast tenderness, overeating, weight gain, bloating, fatigue, decreased sexual libido, cyclic vomiting, difficulty concentrating
  • Estrogen deficiency: menopause, hot flashes, irritability, fatigue, mood swings, vaginal atrophy, increased vaginal dryness, decreased sexual libido, depression, brain fog, irregular or decreased menstrual cycles, dry skin, tender breasts, night sweats, increased bone fragility
  • Progesterone deficiency: insomnia, bloating/fluid retention, mood swings, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, decreased fertility
  • Too much progesterone: sleepiness, fatigue, breast tenderness/swelling, bloating, weight gain, anxiety or agitation, depression, decreased sexual libido
  • Too much Testosterone/DHEA: acne, hirsutism (black, coarse hair growth on face), increased agitation, insulin resistance
  • DHEA/Testosterone deficiency: Fatigue, decreased libido, lethargy


While there might seem to be a good deal of issues to consider, there’s no need to despair. Integrative teams, including naturopathic doctors such as Dr. Adler and her colleagues, have many healthy and natural solutions to help you find relief and greater overall health. Don’t settle for less—embrace your health as a vital and whole woman and find the solutions you need by looking at the bigger picture.  


You May Also Like: Natural Remedies to Help with Period Cramps, The Mental and Emotional Impacts of PCOS, The Health Benefits of Magnesium for Women.

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