Hold on to your hats folks, this is a longer post than I generally write. However, if you feel like there’s more going on to your own anxiety, depression, or mood, keep reading. Maybe you suffer from a hormonal imbalance!
I continue to have bad days. And when I say bad days, I mean days where it takes everything in me to get out of bed in the morning, and to be a productive member of the family. I engage in a lot of “self-talk” on these days: “Just get through today” “You’ll feel better if you stop moping” “The fresh air will clear your mind”. I have a husband, two children and a very needy miniature dachshund to feed and keep happy and busy. Therefore, I don’t have the time or the luxury to be able to stay in bed, despite my body or mind screaming for me to do so.
So I continue to pursue all things health for my sake, and my family’s sake.
The other day I was at the library with my son and daughter. I browsed around the adult section while my daughter decided on her own books to take home. While wandering, I noticed a title: HAPPY HORMONES by Dr. Kristy Vermeulen, ND. This title spoke to me because I’ve been in contemplation for some time now about whether my recent uptick in anxiety and depression is a result of imbalanced hormones. So I checked the book out and took it home. Needless to say, the book was eye-opening.
I thought my female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone were the culprits, however, after completing all her quizzes on each hormone, and reading the symptoms, I discovered I have a high probability of Cortisol deficiency. This is the full list of symptoms Dr. Vermeulen lists for a Cortisol deficiency:
- Inability to cope with stress
- Easily irritated
- Worsened allergies (environmental and food)
- Salt and sugar cravings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low Blood pressure
- Increased frequency of cols and flu
- Eczema, psoriasis, and other skin rashes
This is me in a nutshell.
She explains how cortisol deficiency occurs, which she notes she sees most often in people “who lead busy lives and are under a lot of stress”. Another word for cortisol deficiency is Adrenal fatigue. Or, as I’ve heard it called in my field: Burnout. She further notes “Cortisol imbalance usually starts off as an excess, and then can either slowly or quite quickly progress into adrenal fatigue and cortisol deficiency”. This makes sense since my stress was WAY UP HERE for about two years, and then I went on leave and I could breathe again….Or could I? I may do a future post about all the things that contributed to my own burnout. But not today.
DISCLAIMER: Obviously, if you suspect you have a hormonal imbalance, or even if you don’t feel like yourself, I highly highly recommend you ask your doctor for a blood/urine/saliva panel to see if anything looks wonky. I am not a doctor, and I don’t recommend you take medical advice or diagnostics from someone on the internet.
I haven’t done this yet because I just read the book and got all excited about solving this problem. But in the meantime, here are things that I plan on incorporating into my life, which Dr. Vermeulen recommends to help balance out your cortisol levels (which, in my opinion anyone can benefit from if they just aren’t feeling right):
- Diet – eat a diet that’s higher in protein and low in refined carbohydrates. I’m already trying to do this but my diet also has room for improvement
- Lifestyle – Get enough sleep, decrease stress, implement a regular routine, engage in healthy eating, and exercise
- Stress is a big contributing factor to adrenal fatigue, so this is the area that I want to focus on for the next 30 days. She recommends yoga and/or meditation to help with stress, so I’ve chosen to sign up for a local yoga class every Sunday.
- Dr. Vermeulen discusses exercise is a form of physical stress on our bodies so she recommends to keep the exercising light and to listen to your body to ensure you don’t overexert yourself.
- Routine has been shown to benefit children’s attitudes and behaviours, so why wouldn’t it help adults too? Going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time every day help to balance hormones in the body. This is something I’m already fairly good at – I’m one of those “old” people who go to bed at 9:00 PM.
- Nutritional Support – The following herbal supplements and vitamins will help nourish the adrenal glands, so including them will help repair those glands:
- Vitamin B5, C and E
- Siberian Ginseng
- Licorice Root
She does mention that individuals with Cortisol excess or cortisol deficiency should stay away from caffeine….But I’ll be honest, my coffee addiction is INTENSE. I am not giving up my daily cup of coffee, but I will start drinking more water and herbal tea first thing in the morning, before I indulge in my cuppa’.
What are your thoughts? Did this article help? If you’re interested in reading more, Dr. Vermeulen’s book touches on both male and female hormonal imbalances and she provides recommendations for all hormonal imbalances. Have a great rest of your day, folks!