Why am I so stressed?


 I am a female who is almost 38 years old with 3 children ranging from 2 to 17. I am mentally exhausted all the time which also drains me phsically. I know with a 2year old I should be tired but I had my tubes tied when I had him and then a year or so later I had an ablasion to help with painful periods. I am snappy and very short with my fuse I think I have more trouble staying focused and remembering things. The dr. says I am depressed I dont want to take anti depressants I want a more natural approach but drs now days dont think along those lines. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Tina

 

Dear Tina, 

The situation you are describing is something that I hear numerous times in my practice everyday.  Many women are in a situation where they are put under very high demands with the responsibilities of raising the family.  Overtime, between the stress and work of childbearing coupled with raising children, tending to the household and changing hormone levels it is very common for women to complain of symptoms like low energy, poor focus, irritability, anxiety and depression. 

The good news is that many of these stories have a happy ending.  By offering the body the correct support you can regain much of the health and vitality you experienced years ago.  

There are a few key concepts and systems to look at in this situation.  The adrenals, the thyroid and the sex hormones (ovaries) are the primary players here.  Together they make a triad that ultimately controls much of how we feel in regards to energy, vitality and overall health.

The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys.  Their primary role is to help our bodies to resist stress and supply us with energy.  When we are put under prolonged stress or high amounts of stress in a short period of time often the adrenals become fatigued.  I have found this to be one of the main causative factors associated with the symptoms you are experiencing.  A saliva test is the best way to evaluate how your adrenals are doing because it is the most sensitive way to monitor changes in cortisol levels for a situation like this. 

If adrenal gland function is disrupted then thyroid function is often disrupted due to the effect cortisol has on thyroid hormone.  As we know, low thyroid function will result in low metabolism, low energy, low body temperature and possibly depression. 

Lastly, the excessively painful menses you were experiencing several years ago when you had your ablation procedure was an early warning sign that your adrenal system was getting weak and that your hormonal system was starting to become imbalanced.  As the adrenals start to become weakened due to prolonged stress the body will rely on sex hormones, particularly progesterone to support the stress response in light of falling cortisol levels.  The body will convert progesterone into cortisol to support survival which ultimately causes diminished blood levels of progesterone.  Low progesterone levels can cause excessive bleeding, excessive moodiness and PMS, breast tenderness, bloating and painful menses.  

In order to fully regain your health and vitality you are most likely going to have to work one on one with someone because balancing these systems can be tricky and requires the guidance of practitioner skilled in working with natural medicines.  However here are some general guidelines that might be helpful for you.

The first thing you must do is balance your blood sugar.  Each meal, including breakfast must contain high quality protein from real food like eggs, fish, turkey, chicken or dairy products.  Eating good quality proteins and fats at each meal will stabilize your blood sugar and remove a huge amount of stress from your body.  Rising and falling blood sugar levels that result from eating refined carbohydrates like cereal, breads, pastas, baked good and potatoes cause a great deal of stress on your body.  Eliminating these fluctuations can greatly support your body’s attempts to regain health.  You can follow diets like The Zone Diet or The South Beach Diet.  Both are very good at eating to stabilize blood sugar. 

Next, we can look at nutrients.  B-vitamins, particularly B5 and B6 are very good at supporting the adrenals and energy production in general.  What I usually suggest is to take a good B-50 Complex and then take an additional 250mg-400mg of B5, an extra 25mg of B6 and an additional 1-5mg of a sublingual methyl B12.  This is a great way to start to stabilize mood and support energy production.  These B vitamins are all water soluble making them very safe and are one of the most powerful tools for rebuilding strength and stamina. 

Certain herbal preparations can also be very helpful at restoring energy levels.  A particular class of herbs called Adaptogens, are best known for their ability to help the body recover from and resist stress.  Ginseng is one of the best known herbs from this family.  I recommend the American Ginseng variety to start because it has less potential to be over stimulating to sensitive individuals.  It is important to take it in the morning and afternoon because these are times when adrenal function is most active.  If it capsules, I usually recommend 300-400mg in the morning and an additional 200mg around noontime.  If it is a liquid, I will often recommend 120 drops in the morning and an additional 60 drops around noontime.  Other great herbs to consider for energy and stamina are Rhodiola and Ashwaganda.  

In order to iron out thyroid function you must first get the adrenals supported and you must also get the appropriate type of thyroid evaluation.  Please read the article at the following link for an in depth review of what tests you need to understand thyroid function  http://www.vitabase.com/blog/energy/sub-clinical-hypothyroidism.aspx

To balance your hormones there are several options available.  Topical progesterone cream might be something to consider because it will directly increase blood levels of progesterone.  This should help to reduce any symptoms associated with moodiness and irritability that are hormonally related.  I do not usually suggest the long term use of progesterone cream unless you are supervised by a doctor, however a three month course may do wonders to get your hormones back on track.  In addition, because the adrenals can use progesterone to support the stress response it serves as a round about way of supporting this system as well.  

Another very good adjunctive way to support progesterone levels in the body is with Evening Primrose Oil.  This wonderful oil helps the body to naturally increase progesterone production.

Back to all Questions     View More by Dr. Kevin Passero

Lead Medical Director

As a certified and fully trained Naturopathic Doctor, Passero has trained and preceptored with some of the nation's leading doctors in the field of natural medicine, working under the guidance of MD’s, Chiropractors, Naturopaths and Acupuncturists. Furthermore, he is currently the Vice President of the Maryland Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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