STRESS HORMONES AND DEPRESSION

The role of norepinephrine
Norepinephrine or noradrenaline is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. It plays a role in mood and concentration. As a neurotransmitter, it plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle, in increasing attention and in memory storage. Norepinephrine is also important in emotions. High levels of norepinephrine can lead to feelings of intense happiness, hyperactivity, panic attacks and high blood pressure. Low levels can lead to poor concentration, lack of energy and possibly depression and anxiety. Together with adrenaline, norepinephrine helps the body respond to stress (fight or flight).

Norepinephrine in depression
The norepinephrine system is involved in vigilance and arousal, activation of the stress response and memory modulation. When you’re awake it’s most active because you may be moving or thinking quite a bit. Too much stimulation may cause stress, decreased concentration and attention as well as sleep and arousal problems common in depression. Long-term anti-depressant treatment is associated with decreasing communication via the norepinephrine system.

Boost your levels through:
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Meditation
Cortisol and the HPA-axis dysfunction
When the stress response is triggered for an extended period of time, the body releases cortisol, which allows the brain to think clearly, send energy to muscles and heightens the senses, keeping the body on high alert. Cortisol also regulates the HPA axis, which continues producing cortisol during long-term stress. The HPA axis can go into overdrive and produce too much cortisol. Over the long term this negatively affects concentration, memory and emotions. It can also cause lowered immunity and inflammatory responses. And this contributes to chronic stress which can lead to depression.
Reduce your cortisol levels through:
  • Exercise
  • Meditation

GET IMMEDIATE HELP

People often don’t get the brain health services they need because they don’t know where to start. 

IMPORTANT NUMBERS

Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line

24hr helpline: 0800 12 13 14
SMS: 32312

Suicide Crisis Line

0800 567 567

Gender Based Violence Command Centre

0800 428 428

SADAG Mental Health Line

011 234 4837