Meet Jocelyn. She’s a busy 42 year old married Mom to 3 school-aged children. She went to her primary provider with complaints of fatigue, memory loss, irritability, lack of motivation, and brain fog. She’d never once in her life had these problems, but had noticed that the symptoms worsened over the course of the last few years. Her primary provider suggested that she was depressed and likely anxious and suggested she try Prozac or Zoloft. After 3 months on Zoloft, she was more tired, found no joy in most of life, now was starting to feel like she didn’t like her husband , still had no motivation or working memory and the brain fog seemed to have worsened. She returned to her primary care provider to discuss other options and was given a new diagnosis of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Once again, she agreed to her provider’s suggestion that she try Adderall or another stimulant type medication.
After a month on the stimulant prescribed, Jocelyn developed problems falling and staying asleep. Although she did feel like she was a bit more productive while taking the stimulant, she didn’t like the jittery feeling it gave her and as before on the previous medication, she saw no improvement in her lack of motivation, brain fog, irritability and fatigue. One more trip back to her primary provider resulted in a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication and another for a sleeping medication. In a desperate attempt to get the right medication for her ‘depression, anxiety and ADD’ and at the end of her rope, Jocelyn came to Sanctuary Functional Medicine for help.
We started with a very simple symptom sheet asking Jocelyn to rate her symptoms from 1-10. She rated fatigue, memory loss, lack of motivation, and decreased libido as 10’s, with trouble falling asleep rated as a 5, belly fat rated as a 4 and all other symptoms within a normal range. We ran hormone and thyroid labs and sat down for 45 minutes with her after her hormone labs returned to hash it all out piece by piece. It became quickly evident that Jocelyn was not depressed and certainly didn’t likely have ADD (you don’t suddenly develop ADD in middle adulthood…it has to have been present since childhood to meet diagnostic criteria).
What did her labs show? They showed that Jocelyn’s thyroid was healthy, her Estradiol, Progesterone and DHEA were all strong, but that her Testosterone and Vitamin D levels were really low. She reluctantly agreed to try Testosterone and Vitamin D3 for 6 weeks to see if they made a difference and low and behold, Jocelyn reported feeling like a new woman! Her irritability had calmed, her memory was back, her fatigue was a thing of the past, she realized that she really did like her husband, her libido returned and her brain fog cleared! Turns out she didn’t have an antidepressant or stimulant deficiency after all!
Jocelyn is an example of only one of thousands of women we’ve seen for similar issues and sadly, most don’t start out by checking hormones, but instead, come to us as a last resort. Some are lucky enough to find us after seeing friends or family come back to life from the treatment we provide, and yet others come to us for different issues and find that they also need their hormones optimized. It was NORMAL for Jocelyn to feel all that she did at her age, as perimenopause is simply defined as the 10 or so years before your period stops. With the average age of most women at 53 when their periods stop, she was only at the beginning of hormone loss and felt bad enough to seek help. Her signs and symptoms were all related to Testosterone loss and if the conventional medical world had the training in hormones to help, I have no doubt that they would have.
Don’t be like Jocelyn and go through 2-3 medications for ‘antidepressant medication deficiency’ or ‘antianxiety medication deficiency’…skip all of that and just come see us first. We’d love to help.
P.S. Jocelyn ended up sending her husband in as well, who after seeing his wife return to her formerly happy self, decided that he could benefit as well from a hormone evaluation. As is normal for his age (44), he wanted help with fatigue, lack of motivation, belly fat, memory loss, decreased libido and brain fog and told us he “wanted to be able to keep up with his wife.” We were happy to help.
P.P.S. Hormone loss can occur as young as your early twenties (or earlier if on hormonal birth control) so please seek professional evaluation for your symptoms, even if you’re younger than Jocelyn.