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!

Group Therapy

I did not like group therapy one little bit. The one time I went was because my therapist recommended it. The group consisted of OCD sufferers and some of their family members, along with those suffering from hoarding and trichotillomania.  I sat very uncomfortably in my chair.  Everyone took turns sharing stories an venting.  I did not benefit from this because I really did not want to vent.  I would have benefited more from hearing tips and ways to succeed. Group therapy is free in many places and may be a good option for some, but I did not like it.

Click here to watch my video post about Group Therapy on my youtube channel.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

I only went through a month of cbt because I didn’t see a counselor until my final semester of college and each student was only allowed 8 visits per semester.  Going to the therapist for the first time was horrifying.  It was helpful to talk about my OCD though.  She taught me that OCD is not my fault.  I blamed myself for my OCD, believing I must have done something to deserve it.   I told her I felt scared of getting help because I have had OCD for so long, who would I be without it?  We discussed acceptance and possible solutions in dealing with OCD.

We started cognitive behavioral therapy (a type of psychotherapy in which the patient confronts his/her fears to learn how to deal with the anxiety) near the end, mostly because I kept putting it off.  I was terrified.  I also doubted its efficacy.  She started by having me resist compulsions for very small things at my home.  I didn’t really do the assignments she gave me.  I did at the beginning, but as they got more intense, I stopped.  She wanted to do an exposure (when a patient confronts his/her fear without compulsing) with me so we decided a relatively small but significant one would be to unlock my car door, sit inside, get out and lock it once, then walk away.

I walked next to my therapist and breathed while she told me to breathe.  I was upset.  My teeth chattered, I talked a lot about nothing, got dizzy, hazed and felt nervous.  She kept telling me to breathe and asked me to rate my anxiety at each increment of a few minutes.  We got inside and she told me that I hid my anxiety well.  I said thanks.

Exposures are not easy, but they are not supposed to be.  I am glad I did it though; it made a lasting impact.

I recommend cbt when you are ready.  It’s scary, but it can work and give you important coping skills.