"Neuro" is the study of the brain and nervous system. "Endocrinology" is the study of hormones. Neuroendocrinology, therefore, is the study of interactions between hormones and the brain, primarily how hormones affect behavior.

Hormones are essentially chemical messengers that transport signals from one cell to another in the body. Different hormones have different functions. They may stimulate growth, change our mood, regulate metabolism, control the reproductive cycle, prepare the body for a new phase such as puberty or menopause, and so on. When hormone levels are abnormal, signs of abnormal behavior and illness will arise – e.g., epileptic seizures, depression, weight gain.

Because hormones affect so many of the systems in our minds and bodies, neuroendocrinology combines elements from different fields, including OB/GYN, psychiatry, endocrinology and behavioral neurology. Doctors in these specialties often refer cases to a neuroendocrinologist for a closer examination of
hormonal causes.

Do you need a neuroendocrinologist?
Neuroendocrine problems can take on many forms (see conditions) and affect both women and men. Many cases, including catamenial epilepsy and PMS, involve emotional disorders related to a woman's menstrual cycle and reproductive hormones. Other cases may be the result of problems with the adrenal glands, thyroid, pituitary or other hormone-producing systems.
Examples include:

    Catamenial epilepsy. Seizures occur at specific, predictable times
    during a woman's menstrual cycle and are resistant to standard
    anti-epileptic medications.

    Menopausal transition issues. These include seizure exacerbation, complications from hormone replacement therapy, and changes in mood, anxiety and cognition.

    Seizures in young women. When adolescent girls begin having periods, they sometimes begin experiencing premenstrual seizures as well.

    Neurological disorders. These include issues with memory, concentration, mood or anxiety, sometimes in the setting of another neurological or endocrinological condition – e.g., a past traumatic brain injury or thyroid
    gland dysfunction.

    Anxiety disorders. These may be caused by congenital adrenal hyperplasia and be resistant to standard pharmacologic interventions.

    Hypothalamic or pituitary gland lesions. In these cases, resulting hormonal changes may affect cognition and/or behavior.

    Reproductive hormone disorders in men. Temporal lobe epilepsy can provoke reproductive disorders, causing lowered sex drive, reduced potency or infertility.