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Bio-Identical Hormones

WOMEN & HORMONES BY MARI L. LILLY, MD

Did you ever wonder if your hormones were really adjusted right?

Subtle hormone variations can and do affect women.  I often find women feel emotionally better with their thyroid and female hormones carefully treated. Trying to treat all mood disorders with only antidepressants is like trying to fix the body with only one tool.  Not very helpful!  
Hormones affect the mind and the body.  Weight loss and weight gain are often seen but the unseen effects on the brain and mind are often missed.  Weight loss that is painstakingly slow and  then all too quickly regained is frustrating but common.  Sadness can  persist, along with fatigue that can be mild or bone crushing.  Thinking is slower and forgetfulness worsens.  In hypothyroidism, the mind and body just grind to a halt.

Some estimate that nearly one fourth of women will develop low thyroid functioning eventually. Testing seems fool proof until you realize that the range of normal test results may not be YOUR normal.  Some symptoms might NOT go away even if your thyroid hormones are properly replaced.  It appears that the brain may be somehow "reset" after low thyroid and the mood may stay low.  So, it's not uncommon for antidepressant medication to be needed even after appropriate correction.  Helping you heal completely after developing hypothyroidism is the goal.  Feeling well, not just better.

Then there is the role of estrogen in the brain.  It appears that loss of estrogen at menopause affects memory, moods and thinking abilities.  Opinions have wildly varied over the last decade  but the effect of estrogen positively on the brain seems a definitive benefit, especially for some women.  The horse derived estrogen from the past seems correlated to dementia, but bio-identical estradiol seems  to have opposite and beneficial effect on memory.  I have studied this extensively and I agree with the role of the bio-identical estrogen (estradiol) on moods, depression, insomnia, sexual feelings and memory.  While not a cure all, it is often a major piece of feeling well for many women.

For women who are medically unable to use estrogen, such as breast cancer survivors, neurofeedback and meditation skill training can help many feel less hot flashes and mood instability.  I also use several other options, such as the Alpha Stim CES device, to help normalize the brain and body after menopause for the women that are affected by these hormone changes.       
Notable Quotes

"Hormone intervention can be very helpful for patients with mood disorders in terms of helping them to stabilize and stay stable with or without antidepressants.  While antidepressants and behavioral stratagies are still the treatment of choice for depression across the lifecycle, it's important to know that hormonal strategies may have a role maintaining mood to augment those strategies."

Claudio Soares, M.D.
Department of Psychiatry
Behavioral Neurosciences
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
McMaster University
Canadian Medical Association Journal
October 2011


"Women who initate hormone therapy before their final menstrual period show increased blood flow to the hippocampus and better verbal memory compared to non-users."

Pauline Maki, PhD Director
Women's Mental Health Research
Department of Psychiatry
University of Illinois at Chicago
2011