How The Endocrine System Affects Behavior

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How The Endocrine System Affects Behavior

The endocrine system and how we behave are directly related to each other.  Reason? Our actions are controlled by our brain and they are based on the way our hormones act within the body.

To be able to understand the relation between the two, you will first need to understand what the endocrine system is, what it does, what behavior is and why it’s dependent on the endocrine system. Here are some easy to understand concepts for you.

The Endocrine System

The endocrine system is made up of all the glands that secrete different hormones within the body. It comprises of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, adrenal gland, pancreas, and the sex glands… the ovaries and testes.

These glands produce hormones that regulate different functions of the body like moods, metabolic rate, temperature, ability to produce sperms or eggs, control fight or flight responses, and regulate blood sugar levels.

In simple words, if it wasn’t for the endocrine system, our body would not be able to function at all. This is the reason why when there is some kind of hormonal balance, the entire system is affected and therefore the function of the glands change.

But the endocrine system does not work alone. It coordinates with the nervous system in order to control behaviors and moods. This is the reason why it is said to play a very important role in the way emotions can flare up. Think of it this way, if you are under stress, your body starts producing copious amounts of the hormone cortisol.  In turn, this activates your system for a fight or flight action.  What’s more, excessive amount of cortisol can lead to feelings of depression and moods of irritability.


When thought of scientifically and in the words of Wikipedia, behavior is “the range of actions and mannerisms made by individuals or systems in conjunction with themselves or their environment, which includes the other organisms around as well as the physical environment”.  This behavior is hugely impacted by the endocrine system.

Humans have a complex nervous system.  They learn to facilitate their behavior as per the needs of the environment and surroundings.   But still their actions are quite a bit dependent on the release of various hormones in their bodies.

Of course this doesn’t mean that you can get irritated and blame the stress hormone, but there are chances of underlying hormonal imbalance if you are unable to get rid of the persistent irritability or depression.

Relationship between Behavior and the Endocrine System

According to different studies conducted over the years, it is the hypothalamus in the brain and the pituitary gland that are responsible for motivated behaviors.

You will be interested to know that it isn’t only the hormones that have such a great impact on behavior.  Behavior can also control hormones. Surprising? Let’s see how this works. Consider the example of sexuality and mood. There is candlelight dinner, a romantic walk  and all of this is the preparation towards what comes next…. sex. In other words, a sort of mood is being created to enhance the feelings of intimacy and love. This then leads to the production of sex hormones that can then facilitate intercourse.

This is not the only example that can be considered. When you are watching a horror movie, your mind and body is being put in the accepted behavior of being scared. Once the movie is over, your brain continues to stimulate feelings of fright and if there is the slightest of threat, your body is prepared to take action. This flight response is something that was induced by your behavior and mood and not the other way round.

Could it be a Problem?

Yes actually it can be. When behaviors or mood swings are disruptive and out of control, there are chances that you are suffering from some kind of hormonal imbalance, not necessarily a mental breakdown. Studies clearly depict that when people are facing thyroid issues, problems with their pituitary gland or sex hormones then there is likelihood of some kind of mood disorder as well.

There are literally hundreds of patients who have been misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, and depression when the actual problem was an imbalance in their hormones. Do you feel like you are not being able to control the way you think or feel? Here are some common symptoms of hormonal imbalance:

  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Low grade fever
  • Depression, anxiety or stress (this can either be persistent or recurrent)
  • Drowsiness and sluggishness
  • Achy muscles and joints
  • Overall feelings of gloom and doom

If the symptoms persist and nothing seems to be elevating them, then you may need to see a doctor and get your hormones tested. Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, PCOS, erectile dysfunction are all related to hormonal imbalance and can lead to serious problems with mental health.

The instant treatment starts, these feelings start elevating. You will be surprised by how soon your body and mind starts recovering and the quality of life improves significantly. Just make sure you see your endocrinologist before getting any psych evaluation.

Also remember to check out the medicines if you are taking any. There are some that cause the hormones to fluctuate and hence lead to behavioral issues. Your pharmacist would be a great resource for you as well.


It is not easy to understand who controls who because behavior and hormones are too closely linked to be separated and analyzed up close. They are both dependent on each other and one cannot truly change one without effecting the other.

Of course if you feel that you are facing behavioral concerns or feelings of stress, depression or anxiety that refuse to leave, then there may be a possibility of your hormones malfunctioning.

They could either be too low or in excessive presence in your body that needs to be checked up. Only a doctor would truly be able to tell you what is happening. Get in touch with your doctor, explain your symptoms to them and get yourself treated. Good luck!  We are always here to help you.  In fact, you may be a candidate for The DNA Uprint.  Feel free to call us, 716-773-4707.


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