«

»

Feb 22

Print this Post

Are Women’s Health Issues Being Painted with a Mental Health Brush?

Painting with a Mental Health Brush

Mental Health is more than just prescribing an anti-depressant

I recently realized that some people view me as being “against meds”.   It’s true I refused anti-depressants for my PMS and again for my postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) because I knew there had to be a better solution.  Finally at my wits’ end with the PMS I took Zoloft for 6 weeks before throwing them out!  It may surprise you to know that I’m not anti-meds.  What I am “for”, however, is doctors providing patients all the alternatives & letting the patient participate in the decision.

Obviously many people are helped by taking anti-depressants.  Lives are saved by such medications.  But did you know about 1 in 4 people are made worse by taking SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors)? There are studies showing a placebo effect may be at play for some people – this suggestion is controversial.  But here’s the thing – the number of SSRI’s being prescribed for everything from acne to PMS to IBS to hot flashes has me concerned.  Anti-depressants aren’t just being prescribed for depression.  Did you know they are even formulating a new SSRI specifically to treat low libido in women?

Here’s more stats that may surprise you:

  • Anti-depressant use in America is up 400 percent in two decades!!
  • 11% of Americans take an anti-depressant
  • 23% of women age 40 – 59 take antidepressants
  • Anti-depressants are the third most prescribed drug in America
  • 14% of people taking an anti-depressant are taking more than one type

I don’t think my situation is unique –  I wasn’t offered alternatives and I was offered anti-depressants for PMS and later for PPMD.  So my position is that year after year, health issue after health issue my “condition” was never “treated” but rather my “symptoms” were just “prescribed” medication.  That’s what I have trouble with.

Women’s health issues are being painted with a mental health brush all too often.   Here’s how I know this to be true:

  • Millions of women with hypothyroidism are being undiagnosed and misdiagnosed, many are being given anti-depressants without ever checking for thyroid.Dr. Barry Durant-Peatfield, author of “Your Thyroid and How to Keep It Healthy” , believes that up to half of all depression is due to unrecognized hypothyroidism.
  • Some women on synthetic thyroid meds develop depression and are treated with anti-depressants instead of a medication change.
  • Hormone imbalances can be the culprit in mood disorders – Using anxiety as an example, progesterone is considered a neurosteroid – it’s a long story and I won’t geek out on you too much – but basically it is synthesized in the central nervous system and affects the GABA receptors in the brain – similar to benzodiazepine drugs.  Its anti-anxiety affect occurs very quickly and there are no side-effects to using natural progesterone, in fact if you need it perhaps you’re deficient!  Spend some time on a benzodiazepine forum to listen to women who have been on these drugs for 20 years discuss either their side effects or about the withdrawal symptoms when they try to wean themselves off.  It makes me weep knowing that most of these women have never encountered a doctor that considered checking their hormones before writing the prescription.
  • Some women who don’t respond well to their anti-depressants are being treated with Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).  Yes, ECT is alive and well still today and without their hormones or thyroid ever being checked some severely depressed patients are undergoing ECT.
  • Studies show Postpartum Psychosis may be a symptom of an auto-immune thyroid disease (AITD) – Here’s just a sample of a small study in the Netherlands in 2011 that showed 19% of women with postpartum psychosis had an AITD.  So are 19% of postpartum psychosis sufferers being given the wrong meds for their condition?
  • Women, like Jana, are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder when, in fact, they have Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disorder.  There’s a problem with that – a big one in fact – the Lithium prescribed for bipolar destroys their thyroid gland.

Instead of opening the Endocrine Manual, many doctors are scouring the pages of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) searching for our mental illness.   Instead of investigating for hormone imbalance or metabolic and auto-immune disorders, prescriptions for anti-depressants & benzodiazepines or other similar drugs are being written for women in record numbers.

Sometimes when you are the patient suffering, you will grab onto the first life preserver that is being thrown out to you.  And maybe that is the one you need but what if it’s not?   I think we need to let women know about all the life preservers that are available for her and then let her decide.  

 

Disclaimer:  The information provided on this site is not intended as medical advice  - seek medical advice from a doctor.  If you take medication never stop taking them without the supervision of your doctor.  Postpartum Psychosis is a medical emergency if you or someone you know is suffering seek medical attention immediately.

 

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.hormonesoup.com/are-womens-health-issues-being-painted-with-a-mental-health-brush/

8 comments

1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. Dana Trentini

    Thank you for including a link to Hypothyroid Mom in this great article. So many women are diagnosed with depression. Some of them may in fact be suffering from undiagnosed or insufficiently treated Hashimoto’s and their doctors have no idea about the link with mental health. It is a tragedy.

    1. Sonya

      Dana, you’re welcome. It’s important for me to raise awareness through my own stories but also I think it’s helpful for people to see it’s not just me. And you share such great information on your blog so thank you for providing stories for me to link too. It is such a tragedy, indeed.

  2. Beth

    Wow! After having one of craziest, most emotional days ever, I really appreciate reading this post! Thank you!

    I don’t have health insurance, and even when I did, I couldn’t find a doctor who would help me. They either didn’t address my hormones, wanted to put me on a “trial run of anti depressants” (after talking with me about my fatigue and aching for 1 minute or so) and wouldn’t do the hormone blood tests I kept asking for.

    I decided to do my own female panel and the results came back as me having hardly any testosterone and in the low range for progesterone. I put myself on zinc, started lifting heavy weights and started myself on natural progesterone.

    I did the zinc and progesterone for about 3 months. I ran out of zinc, and didn’t do progesterone this month (but HAD been lowering the dose slowly).

    I DO feel nuts and hopefully things will work better. What I don’t think I need is anti depressants…I wish more doctors would check the status of our hormones. I think that would help a lot of women.

    I’m going to finally order more labs on Monday and have to make an appt with my regular doctor to do a neck scan, because it’s been swollen there for almost a week.

    When I get my blog launched, I would love to republish this post with a link back to you if I’m able to. My audience is women/moms with fibromyalgia and I think they need to know this.

    Thank you again!

    1. Sonya

      Hi Beth,

      I’ve been there so I’m really glad you found my blog! My heart goes out to you – those emotional days are hard to get through but I’m glad you are starting to find your path. My hope is that other women’s path won’t be as convoluted and twisted as mine was.

      I think you’d find it really helpful to find a doctor or naturopath who can work with you and monitor your progesterone. A couple things to consider if getting your saliva hormones tested and ordering the tests online – make sure it’s a reputable lab – one that’s accredited. In my experience my ND & MD probably bases my treatment as much or more on detailed discussion of my symptoms and uses saliva and blood testing occasionally. Definitely go get your neck checked hun – I had a similar problem when I was having severe PMS symptoms but the doctor found nothing out of the ordinary with my tests. Back then I never asked which tests were done or what the actual levels were. Thinking back I really wonder if it was my thyroid.

      I agree with you! More doctors should check the status of our hormones! To be honest I don’t think the average family physician has the expertise.

      Keep me posted about your blog for sure! In fact send me an email and yes, please mention my blog!

      Hugs to you…

      PS: Fibromyalgia I’m not sure if you’ve read anything similar about Fibromyalgia and thyroid but check out this site for a really well done article: http://www.thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/related_conditions/fibromylagia.html

      PPS: Also check out my Magnesium posts you may find interesting information.

      1. Beth

        Thank you so much for the reply. And thank you so much for the link to Fibromyalgia article, as well as the information about your magnesium posts. :) Those are super helpful!

        I sincerely believe that many (if not most) people with Fibromyalgia have hormonal/thyroid imbalances, but I don’t see a lot of discussion about that happening in the Fibro community at all.

        Hopefully, I can bring some of this information to Fibro sufferers.

        I haven’t yet done my blood work yet, but am looking for the best doctor or naturopath I can find in my area. I want someone who can also help me with hormone imbalances too.

        My PMS seems to be getting worse. Yesterday, I had a migraine with nausea and couldn’t keep any food down. Then…I couldn’t get to sleep last night until 2:30 or 3! I think I’m due to start my menses soon, but wow.

        And I wonder how long I’ve had low thyroid function and hormonal imbalances. I have had emotional issues ever since been a teenager, and they got a lot worse after I had my second child and went through LOTS of stress.

        When I was teenager, I was suicidal and depressed. I wonder if life would have been different if I would have known anything about the link the hormones can have with mental health. Maybe that was the problem back then?

        Thank you again for all the great things you are doing! I appreciate it!

        I’m still trying to launch my blog and I will keep in contact with you.

  3. Marina Gutner, PhD

    There are 59 health conditions that can contribute to depression and are often misdiagnosed for depression. Very often medical conditions develop slowly and it can take 10, 15 or 20 years until it progresses to a disease that can be diagnosed using standard lab tests. During this time when the disease is in a subclinical state people can have many unexplained symptoms and depression is one of them.

    Antidepressants often fail to help in these cases because the root cause of depression was never addressed. What helps is to get a proper diagnosis and treat the underlying medical condition.

  4. pauline harkin

    HEY I HAVE SUFFERD FROM HASHIMOTOS FOR 9 YEARS THANK YOU SO MUCH I CAN IDENTIFY WITH THIS ,THANK YOU ,ON ELTROXIN I TS BEEN A ROLLER COAST T3 FINE BUT TIMES OF STRESS LACK OF FREET3 NEVER EVER CHECKED ONCE TSH FINE DOCTORS DONT ACKNOWEDLE ANYTHING WRONG YET YOUR HANGING IN THER LIKE DRIVING A CAR WITH VERY LITTLE PETROL PLEASE ADVISE ME WHAT ELSE TREATMENT FOR ORHER SYMPTOMS OF HASITIMOITIS THANK YOU SO GOOD TO FIND SOMEONE THAT KNOWS WHAT I AM EXPERCING I AM A NURSE CANNOT UNDERSTAND HOW MEDICAL DOCTORS NOT SCREEN ,AND YOU FEEL SO UNWELL IT IS NOT UNTILL YOU FEEL BETTER YOU CAN RESEARCH YOURSELF PAULINE

    1. Sonya

      Hi Pauline,

      So sorry that you are suffering with your Hashimoto’s – it is so hard to advocate for yourself when you feel so poorly. I can recommend a great book that came out last year specifically addressing Hashimotos – it’s called Root Cause. The author is a Pharmacist, Izabella Wentz who was diagnosed with Hashimotos and began a mission to address the deep gap in understanding and treatment of Hashimotos. I think you will find helpful suggestions in Izabella’s book.

      I wish you the best – big hugs to you.

      Sonya

  1. When Thyroid Disease Masquerades As Psychiatric Disorder

    [...] you to Hormone Soup for including a link to Hypothyroid Mom in the post Are Women’s Health Issues Being Painted with a Mental Health Brush? Thank you also to ibeefree for including a link to Hypothyroid Mom in her personal story of [...]

Leave a Reply