Hypochondria and OCD

Comorbidity (the presence of one or more disorders) is very common among people suffering from OCD.   Some of these other disorders that can affect those with OCD include the following:

  • generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • eating disorders
  • social anxiety disorder
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Asperger syndrome
  • compulsive skin picking
  • body dysmorphic disorder
  • trichotillomania
  • panic attacks
  • depression
  • hypochondria

I love House M.D., reading about different pharmacological drugs, looking up diseases…Every time I get sick with a cold symptom, I look up all the possible diseases it could be.  When I had health insurance, I visited my doctor multiple times a week.  I knew the staff, the tests, the drugs; I very rarely needed anything explained to me, but I always asked a million questions about the possible side effects and such.

I recently got food poisoning, but before I knew what it was, I laid there in my bed, feeling nauseous until l flew into a blind panic, hysterically crying thinking my liver was failing and that I was going to die.  My husband reassured me that I was not dying and we went to the hospital where I was diagnosed, treated and discharged.  I was given a very strong pain killer of which I had never heard, and of course bothered me.  I slept for a week, but now I’m fine and writing this post.

It makes sense that people with OCD can also have other disorders, especially since they all seem to revolve around anxiety.  What I have done to help with this particular disorder is to stop looking up diseases.  As much as I want to, I don’t.  It’s like an addiction, but I know if do, it can lead me down a road of worry.  I still watch House M.D., but with the understanding that the medical mysteries on the show are highly unlikely to occur.  If I or my cats are ever sick or showing symptoms (not life threatening), I wait for three days to monitor, before I see a doctor.  Following this rule really helps because it keeps me in order.

Hypochondria to me feels like a time bomb.  The more I feed the addiction of reading about diseases, the more I worry about what could be wrong with me.  When I get sick, I usually panic, but I do my best to stay healthy by eating organically, learning relaxation techniques and by walking (I’m not much of an exercise person).

Health can be a tricky thing.  It can be overwhelming to try to be healthy and to avoid sickness, but what helps me is to do things that make me happy and not things that promote worry.

Hormonal Imbalance in detail

Hormonal Imbalance can affect both men and women in the following possible ways:

  • fatigue
  • PMS (women)
  • headaches, foggy thinking
  • UTIs (women)
  • acne
  • depression, anxiety
  • hair loss
  • low sex drive
  • allergy symptoms
  • sleep problems
  • mood swings
  • hunger cravings
  • weight gain

I know what you’re thinking- so what symptom isn’t on the list?  Good question, but there’s an even better answer.  Every multi-cell organism has hormones.  Hormones are essentially chemical messengers that transports a signal from one cell to another.  Hormones are responsible for maintaining homeostasis and regulate all kinds of functions like sleep, eating, fertility, puberty…  The thing is if your hormones are imbalanced, your whole body from your physiology to your mental state can be “wrong”.

I felt like things were not right.  I mean when something feels wrong with my body, I’m the first one to know about it.  It’s easy to forget about little nuisances because we get used to them, so taking a fresh look at your life can be helpful in evaluating your health.

In my recent posts I have explained how my OCD spikes during PMS.  So much anxiety and craziness, I feel like there’s a connection between OCD and hormonal imbalance.  Remember the magic word: Serotonin?  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is a hormone too, so is it so crazy to think that all this stuff is connected; that maybe a hormonal imbalance is causing or at least exaserbating my OCD?  Nope, it sure isn’t!

How do you get a hormonal imbalance?

  1. Eating commercial foods – this means foods that are not organic and have been treated with pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
  2. Toxins – things like window cleaner, perfume, basically anything that is composed of synthetic chemicals.
  3. Hormone Therapy – this includes birth control (pills, patch…) , or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Birth Control Pills/Patch

Women are often prescribed birth control not for prevention of pregnancy but  for acne, mood swings or PMS.  Can you see where I am going with this?  Birth control is loaded with Estrogen, way more than your body needs by 10 times!  This estrogen is commercially made from things like the urine of mares, and is used by the body, but not in the same way as your natural estrogen.  The body gets the fake stuff in abundance and says “wow, this stuff works good, let’s stop making our own estrogen and just use this stuff.”  This can really change your body’s natural chemistry and create an estrogen dominance.  For many women, this can make their menstrual cycles much worse and cause many of the symptoms previously listed.  Many women claim success with the use of birth control because maybe they had low estrogen to begin with, but the myth that birth control will work wonders on everyone  is causing more harm than good.

I’m not saying to stop taking birth control!  If you are experiencing unwanted side effects, talk to your OBGYN about a lower estrogen brand, or switch to a non hormonal method of contraception.

I mentioned how taking hormones can cause a problem and they can, but not when done properly.  If you find out you have a hormonal imbalance, say low progesterone, you can supplement with natural progesterone cream made from phytoestrogens (plants).  Natural is just that, natural!  It is safe with no risk of blood clots or other nasty symptoms.

I recently sent away for a home saliva test ($60) and found out I have slightly low estrogen and very low progesterone.  You can buy these tests online and take them at home.  There are different tests for different hormones so it’s a good idea to take a symptom test online first and see which hormones are most likely the culprit.  There are different tests for men and women.

I don’t take birth control, and I eat organically, so I am assuming that the anxiety caused by my OCD is throwing off my cortisol levels.  Cortisol is the stress hormone, so when I am stressed (a lot of the time), I use up all this cortisol and my body runs out and converts my progesterone into more cortisol.  Yikes!  So my current treatment is to supplement with natural progesterone cream, and increase my intake of soy and other phytoestrogens.  I am hoping that this will help with the PMS and decrease the stress in my life therefore getting my cortisol back to normal.   If  I can help my PMS, that’s a lot less OCD manifesting in my life.

When working on your hormones, and especially if you don’t have a dr. (like me), go slowly, do your research and give it about 3 months to see a difference (from what I read).  Listen to your body.  Your body knows and it will tell you.

I’ll post results after 3 months of treatment.  Remember that your health is important, whether it be in dealing with your OCD or your physical health.  Many times one health problem can cause another, so treat your whole body, not just the symptoms.  Be safe!