Not quite sure where to start as I feel SO much has changed since I began my naturopathic treatment plan in early December.
For Anyone Who’s New Here
I’ve struggled with depression (possibly bi-polar according to my family doctor [who I have since left due to her lack of knowledge and bedside manner]), anxiety, OCD and insomnia since I was a pre-teen. I have been to over 20 different therapists, tried countless different coping strategies such as yoga, meditation, and grounding techniques. I have been admitted to one hospital after a suicide attempt and have come close to self-admitting more times than I can remember.
Last year, after I began seeing my naturopath, she suggested I complete the Dutch test. So, I did. I trusted her when she said, based on my symptoms and history, she believed I was suffering from a hormonal imbalance, not depression and most definitely not from bi-polar.
After completing the test (which is basically just like a few pregnancy tests that you pee on at certain times of the day/evening at a specific time in your cycle), my results came back. She was 100% right- my testosterone and estrogen were sky high and my Progesterone was absent. My body also wasn’t releasing cortisol and was “hoarding” it which apparently can happen after trauma (even years later).
At first, I was skeptical until I got to the second page of my results and saw that my Dopamine and Serotonin levels were actually elevated… Likely due to the Zoloft I’ve been taking for nearly a decade thinking I simply was deficient of those two chemicals.
Currently, I take over 20 pills a day. The 20 pills consist of 10 different supplements to help regulate my hormones, and a low dose of Zoloft (that I may or may not need to take forever).
Other lifestyle changes I have made as per the recommendation of my naturopath are:
- Limiting alcohol consumption. I only drink about twice a week now (socially). Before, I was drinking 2-3 glasses of wine every night. Limiting alcohol is essential. My liver has to be at it’s prime right now as I try to heal my Estrogen dominance (the liver eliminates excess estrogen.)
- Limiting sugar. This one is tough for me as I love sweets! But I am being mindful and trying to limit my sugar intake.
- Engaging in low-impact exercise. Before, I would kill myself at the gym. I figured pain was good and meant I was building muscle. My naturopath recommended I stick to yoga and other low impact activities like walking and tai chi. She said most people who have hormone imbalances are absolutely depleted and their bodies are already exhausted without pushing themselves at the gym.
- Eating a hormone balancing diet of protein, vegetables (as many as possible!), and healthy fats. Fruit in moderation as it is high in sugar. (I’m working on this one and gradually making better choices.)
*So far, my body has responded very well to the supplements. I didn’t have any adverse reactions aside from a bit of heartburn at first and can confidently say I am experiencing far more positive side effects than I thought I would.
What I’ve Noticed so Far:
- Better sleep: I used to wake up every night, multiple times. I’d wake up in cold sweats, often with my heart racing and would often have middle of the night panic attacks. Now, I sleep through the night most nights and feel more rested.
- Fewer panic attacks in general: I haven’t had a full-blown panic attack since I started taking the supplements (so more than a month free of panic attacks which means I also haven’t had to use Lorazepam!)
- Increased Energy: For the first time in a long time, I feel human! Before I felt like a zombie, just wandering mindlessly through the motions, completely exhausted. Now, I have a lot more energy (like enough energy to clean the house and do things I used to put off for weeks.) This could be due to better sleep, but I also think my body is just recovering.
- Fewer Cravings: I used to crave sugar like crazy. Now, I feel like I’m craving savory foods and foods that are high in fat. Not sure what this means yet!
- Less severe PMS symptoms: I used to experience the worst PMS symptoms like acne, depression, almost constant anxiety, and panic attacks, and cramping so bad I would have to curl into the fetal position. Now, I still experience these symptoms, but on a much smaller scale.
Now that my body has gotten used to the supplements, I am going to get a bit more serious about my lifestyle changes. I’m going to be really conscious of the food I put into my body and try my hardest to stick to a hormone balancing diet (and try to eliminate or strictly limit carbs aka sugar).
I’m also planning to try different forms of gentle exercise and make it a more prominent part of my treatment plan (because I miss going hard at the gym.)
In another month, I will go back to my naturopath for a follow-up appointment where we will discuss how I have been feeling, and what she thinks our next steps should be. Ideally, in 6 months to a year, we will re-test my hormones and see some progress
If you Think you Might Have a Hormone Imbalance
I would strongly suggest you bring it up with your family doctor. See if you can get your hormones tested. If they aren’t receptive and blame your symptoms on mental illness (like my family doctor did) I’d urge you to get a second opinion and see a naturopath.