TMI Friday: I’m Not Crazy, It’s My Hormones

Monthly female cycleYou know when you’ve been sick for so long, you’re obsessed with finding out why? One of my favorite things to do when I can’t sleep is research health topics. I’m an insomniac who researches sleep disorders in the wee hours of the morning so I can try to make some sense of why I’m extremely exhausted, yet can’t sleep. I read book after book about overcoming depression, and follow the suggestions and mental strategies…yet I still struggle with keeping a consistent, happy psyche. Over the last six months, I’ve been having unbelievable mood swings, going from elation to devastation in a single conversation. It’s been VERY hard to deal with.

So I started researching what could be causing my mood swings, insomnia, inability to lose weight, etc. And suddenly a light blinked on in my head – It’s my hormones! After discussing symptoms with my primary care doctor and OBGYN, I was frustrated when they told me to come back in 6 months if the symptoms persisted. “Hormone swings are cyclical…” yadda yadda yadda. I suffered for several months, fairly certain that it was a hormonal imbalance…but not really getting any help from my doctor.

I started talking to people here and there, trying to get a gauge for the possibility of someone at my age with hormone imbalances. I got a referral to a doctor who specializes in hormone and metabolic disorders, but had to wait over a month to be seen. Last week was when I was finally able to get in to see Dr. Lundell. He had me mark a list of  20 different health concerns (brittle nails, libido extremes, inability to regulate temperature, hair loss, hirsutism, insulin resistance), and after the third checkbox, he said “I already know the problem. You have a progesterone deficiency, specifically in the secretory/luteal phase.”

Low progesterone effects brain chemicals that leads to depression, lethargy, mood imbalances and irritability. Low progesterone impacts a calming chemical called GABA, and there’s a decrease in pain-reducing corticosteroid production. A drop in progesterone can also cause women to feel more pain. When progesterone levels decrease, adrenal glands should take over and produce it. Most common symptoms of progesterone deficiency: inability to lose weight, depression, headaches and PAIN. (Check, check, check, check!)

So he ordered a battery of lab tests, set me up on hormone replacement therapy, and said that within a month I should be able to sleep through the night, my metabolism will spike up, mood swings will diminish, I’ll be able to decrease my dose of antidepressant and other lovely things. I am feeling optimistic about my new course of treatment.

It’s reassuring to know that I’m not crazy, it’s just my hormones.

  • Oh gosh! I hope that that is the answer…and it sounds like it is. Hopefully you’ll be feeling better soon!
    And thanks for sharing this because I’m sure it affects a lot of people!

  • Hormone issues aren’t really “kosher” to talk about in public, but it’s affected my life so much this year, I’m just excited to have an answer! I’ve already had two people ask for my doctor’s phone number since I posted this blog 10 hours ago!

  • Nicole, I am so glad that you are getting some answers and help. It is so frustrating when doctors put you off. You are doing the right thing by being persistent. I had a situation about 10 years ago where for three years I had pain in my stomach and felt bad, then it got better then worst for three years doctors ran tests and could not figure out what was happening finally when it got to the point where I was very skinny and looked like death a surgeon saw me they were doing to do an exploratory surgery but he looked over every lab and scan and said “you have chronic appendicitis” Had surgery that day and have been fine ever since. So stay on top of it and be persistent and you will get it figured out. It sounds like you are on the right path already.

  • YAY!!! So glad someone finally seems to know what they’re doing! 😀

  • Rachel

    That’s great news! I hope this makes you feel like yourself again. You should also read “Master Your Metabolism” by Jillian Michaels. She talks about foods we eat and how they effect all of our hormones. It’s really interesting and informative.

  • I’m so glad you found a Dr. willing to proscribe hormone therapy! That has really helped my mom with her Fibromyalgia (Sp?). Her adrenals were under stress and it caused her insomnia. Since she’s sleeping better she’s done a lot better. Her increased energy led to more exercise, she lost weight, which in turn also helped the Fibro. I really hope this is the answer you’re looking for. I’m so glad you didn’t give up on yourself!

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