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Is Your Anxiety Caused by Hormone Deficiencies?

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Happy Spurling - Regular Font

Kayla Lanier - Bold Font 


Hey friends, today we are talking about hormone changes and how they affect your anxiety.

So mom, how do hormones really affect anxiety?

They play a huge role in anxiety and also panic attacks, lighter sleep or not sleeping as well, headaches, mood swings. I mean, a whole host of symptoms. But one of the most noticeable things is that as progesterone declines as women age, and usually it starts around the age of 35, that progesterone will decrease and when those levels start to fall, women may experience those things like anxiety kind of when they never have before and some women may not have the happen until later. But usually, you experience some change in that a lot of women, it's estimated about 24 to 36% will experience anxiety as they kind of go into the premenopausal stage.


And that's actually about a 10 year process, or sometimes longer. So you may feel like, Hey, I'm in my thirties, I'm nowhere near menopause. But that pre-menopause stage is really when the hormones start to make a huge shift. And a lot of people start out with low amounts of progesterone, and that makes it really hard because if you have a lower amount than you should, and then as you get older it's declining anyway, then you really get into where you have noticeable problems.

Wow. I had no idea.

Yeah, and I think progesterone is probably one of the most overlooked hormones that have to do with anxiety because it's actually the hormone that helps us feel like everything's okay. It's responsible for regulating a lot of body functions, and it plays an important role in brain function, and it's often called the feelgood hormone.

So when people think about progesterone, you think about feeling just really good overall, and it balances your serotonin level. That's how it really affects anxiety is that when progesterone starts to decrease, then so does your serotonin level because it's basically the precursor to serotonin development in the brain.

Optimum levels of progesterone actually promote feelings of calmness and wellbeing but when the progesterone gets low, it actually causes the opposite, which of course is anxiety, irritability, and even anger. So a lot of mood swings that women feel like they start to have as they get older are often related to progesterone because it is the first of the hormones to kind of decline. That's really sad because it's a very important hormone regulator.

I'm really glad that you mentioned that because I'm just now basically at the end of taking progesterone. I've taken it for about three weeks now, and I have noticed a drastic difference in my mood. I'm actually having like sustained energy throughout the day and I had one of the easiest cycles that I've ever had in years.

I was curious though, what depletes progesterone, because my progesterone levels when I took my hormone test were like extremely low. I was wondering if stress plays a factor in that or just age, because I am 27, but it does seem crazy how low my progesterone was.

Honestly, there's several things. Stress does reduce progesterone production because the adrenal glands, if you're under a lot of stress, they take progesterone to make cortisol.

So actually, as women, we produce progesterone, not only in the reproductive organs, so in the ovary and the placenta, but also in the adrenal glands. So that's where people who are under high amounts of stress are still making progesterone. But the adrenals will use it to make cortisol because it needs it in order to keep you calm or to meet that fight or flight response, we actually call cortisol a progesterone steeler because it'll steal it away and use it for that and that's good in a way. But the only problem is if you're stressed a lot, so chronic stress, you're not gonna have enough progesterone left over to actually use it for serotonin production in the brain.

So you get this high intense like fight or flight or freeze response from that progesterone, but you're not getting the serotonin that says, I'm safe. Everything's okay. There's not an emergency. Also, diet changes too, but some people are just not genetically able to make as much progesterone as other people and sometimes that is because of a gene mutation, or also we're faced with so many hormone disruptors in our food, and anytime that you get estrogen involved, progesterone is actually a balancer for estrogen. But if you get too much estrogen through your diet or in plastics, there's a high amount of estrogen when we drink out of a water bottle, and if you do that all the time, then you get a lot of extra hormones, and that's the type of estrogen that's the more dangerous kind. So the estro form, of course, the way our meat is produced now, if you're just getting conventionally produced meat, they're getting hormones added to their feed, or at least injected into the animal because it produces a larger animal faster.

The problem is we then consume the animal, and then we have a lot more estrogen as women in this culture than we have ever in history really and that actually causes progesterone to be depleted as well. And I think that's probably one of the biggest factors, maybe that and stress. So limiting the estrogen coming in through your food, trying to get meats that are sustainably sourced and not actually injected with growth hormones, because that's really hard if you're consuming a lot of protein, which is very good for you. You have to know that you're getting a good source, otherwise you're getting extra hormones, you know, in your body and then nothing hormonally or anything else in our body works in a vacuum. We can't introduce estrogen in large amounts and it not affect our other hormones because it's a system and it's a very beautiful system.

But if we get it out of balance, It can go awry really quick.

And it can almost drive you crazy because you use some kind of cologne or body spray that's not organic or it has chemicals in it. You might actually just subject yourself to disrupting your hormones. Like you can't exactly think that way or obsess over it.

Just try to limit what you can. It's interesting you mentioned that even about the meat. When I first got married, we were living. On a very strict budget, and I was getting the cheapest ground beef I could get, which is not a bad thing. I still have to do it sometimes, but I try to use grass fed ground beef as much as possible at least three to five times a week instead of every day using cheaper meats.

It's definitely changed my health and even my gut health.

A major gut health change because it's very disruptive to the microbiome to have all of those extra hormones because the liver has to do something with those. So when they come into our body, if the liver can't metabolize it and use it, and if it's the estrons, which are the kind that just grow tissue, the liver's gonna wanna put that somewhere.

So what it actually does is it, Stores it, and so it'll actually make a fat cell. Your body will make a fat cell in order to store excess estrogen because it's safer to put it away in a pocket of sorts than it is to circulate throughout your body. If the liver can't break it down, you can benefit from just being careful of what you eat and you brought up the skincare products. That's something that we don't think about shampoos and they really known for hormone dysregulation and disrupt the normal organ of the skin because there's just so many chemicals.


And they don't have to regulate those, you know, we have enough trouble with the regulation of our food and what we ingest, it has a little higher standard sometimes. I don't know for sure if it does, but it's supposed to have. But with things that we put on our body, the regulations are very skewed and it feels like sometimes it's, there's just anything goes. And because we're not ingesting it, it's that idea that it's fine to have that in a bottle of shampoo, but you would never drink your shampoo.

But yet we lather up with our body washes and our soaps and our skin is our largest organ. So the liver has to deal with that too, you know, trying to clean up those areas. And we're not gonna do it perfectly.

I don't do it perfectly, but I mean, I love a good stick of swab deodorant, so that stuff really works. But I have had to cut out a lot of makeup products. 'cause I was just at the dollar store getting the wet and wild products and man they may be a dollar a piece, but the breakouts you get later aren't worth it. And that's your body trying to tell you something like but yeah, there, there's a lot of good brands I use.

Honest beauty, which is such a good, affordable makeup, and it just feels so clean on my skin. But yeah, there's a lot of things you can do and, and it's affordable. You can make it affordable. You can fit it into your budget because it's worth it. It's your health.

Yeah. And you have to think too, you know, maybe it is expensive, but it's easier to pay now your amount of money than it is to pay with your health later.

So I think just looking at everything in our life and saying what goes on in our body, what goes in our body, it does affect us and kind of making, it's an investment. For sure that assessment and mentioned some about mood, and we talked a little bit about how hormones affect our mood and how much better you felt using the progesterone drops.

It's amazing that it actually is a natural antidepressant, so it enhances mood and relieves anxiety, and it actually stimulates the GABA receptor in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that actually helps us make the feelings of feeling safe and calm. Of course we wanna have enough progesterone in there to do that.

And I think more than anything, like progesterone is an antagonist for estrogen. If you have a lot of estrogen in your body through the things we're eating or anything like that, however it's coming in, progesterone can actually be used to buffer that, and it is a checks and balance system, but actually keeps it at the right level, which is pretty amazing.

You want a little more progesterone than you have estrogen in your hormone profile. You don't wanna have too much, but. You want just a little more because it does kind of buffer the estradiol from getting too elevated in the body. And that's really a beautiful picture because progesterone is very protective against breast cancer because it keeps those estrogens that the level of estrogen that is too high.

So there are three forms of estrogen. Estradiol, estriol, and then Estron.

Oh, wow.

And Estron is the one that you really just don't need very much of. And that's what we tend to get through those products and things. But progesterone can actually displace that one and help balance our hormones altogether, which is pretty cool that I didn't even know that.

I didn't even know there was three types of estrogen.

Yeah. And a lot of people get really worked up about hormone replacement and I understand that, and I know in the office, I have that conversation daily with people because back in the eighties when we had the Women's Health Initiative and there were synthetic progesterones and synthetic hormones being really mass produced through the pharmaceutical company, and they were basically just giving them to everybody, every woman that came through the door. And so they did a huge study a little later on, and it was pretty much a closed study in that it involved mostly women in their mid sixties who had already been postmenopausal for like 10 to 20 years.

And then they started giving 'em progesterone is what they called it. But it was actually progestin. So in order to use it as far as a pharmaceutical product that could be patented, they actually had to add an extra molecule to it, and they named it progestin, but they kind of used the term interchangeably.

So when that study came out that all these women were getting breast cancer and they were all on these hormones, They basically scared everyone to death and said, okay, no hormones for anybody, and they took all these people off that they had put on the hormones. It was a really difficult time for women because you don't just go onto hormones and then the next day stop taking them and your body, you know, regulate. I mean, it was a really hard thing. And of course, no hormone replacement is without risk, even if you're talking about bioidenticals. But synthetics are much higher risk because they're different than what our body makes. And then having that extra molecule actually causes them to rest on the receptor of your cell instead of going into the cell.

It flags that you don't need any progesterone. We've got plenty, but then it can't get into the cell so that it can't cascade down into what it needs to do and affect the other hormones. So that's what makes it hard is you'll get a blood test and maybe your progesterone's fine if you've been on a birth control, that has progestin in it, or maybe someone's has an IUD, they may do a blood test and say, oh no, you have plenty of progesterone.

But what that test is picking up is bound hormone that's coming in through your birth control or, or your IUD. Just because it's in the blood, it doesn't mean it's available for you to use it. That's why the gold standard for hormone testing is actually saliva or urine, because that test free hormones.

And that's what the test that you did was the saliva test.

Oh, and it was super easy. Just one little vial of saliva in the morning. Super easy. It just sent it off and I got the results in a couple days and timed it with like day 19 to 21. You just gotta time it with your cycle, which is very self-explanatory.

I mean, I'm just so grateful I did it because I've just been able to regulate my mood so much easier. Like I actually wanna get up and go to work and, and live my life. I'm not angry all the time. My husband says I even look happier. So progesterone's amazing.

And if women are actually using that, they often feel like that's one thing they don't wanna change is because it makes such a difference if that's the hormone that you need.

Right it could be so many.

Yeah. And there's so many other hormones. So that's where doing a test, and this is my motto, Test not guess with hormones. Some things when you're looking at health stuff with food or whatever, you can make some educated guesses, but with your hormones, you can present with symptoms for progesterone deficiency and actually have too much progesterone.

And the same goes with estradiol. So you really need a test to say, you know, what's actually going on in here? And the saliva panel is my preference that I use in the office. And it just helps us know that for sure you had access to those hormones because you're excreting them. We know you used 'em and you metabolized them in the liver with a blood test.

It's what's in the serum, so it's hormones bound to protein, and that tells us that they're available, but it doesn't really tell us as far as a treatable place to come from what you can actually use. Of that because you can have high levels of hormones in your blood and not be able to metabolize them in the liver.

See, that's a good thing to know because I know a lot of people that get blood work for hormone testing and you think, oh, that has to be more accurate than spit, like a hundred percent. Right?


But that's so interesting. I had no idea.

Well, and it's gonna test all five hormones, so your D H E A, which is very important, which is more of a master hormone and then progesterone.

Estradiol and then it does a morning cortisol reading and what I really like about the saliva panel is that it actually, and I'll put a link in the show notes 'cause we use ZRT labs for that. It actually does the progesterone and estradiol ratio and that number's very important because you can be within range for either one of those hormones.

But when you balance the ratio out, that's really what you wanna look at as far as balancing your hormones, right? When hormones are complex, I mean, there's no playbook for those. Every woman that comes through the office that's having a hormone panel done, they're gonna present differently, and the way that you care for them is different and how their body responds. They're not easy to deal with, but when you get 'em right, it's wonderful because it's completely different. Everything in your life is so much better when your hormones are working properly and it's really sad. I was looking at some statistics today when I was studying for the podcast actually found that one in five women, ages 40 to 59 are on an antidepressant and nearly one in four women over the age of 60. And these statistics have kind of gotten the attention of medical boards to see why women are prescribed antidepressants more than men overall. But since like, 2021, they've really seen a trend that there more and more women are being put on that.

And I honestly think a lot of this is because so many things to do with your hormones affect your mental health and your quality of life and depression and anxiety. And oftentimes I'll see women who are presenting with symptoms for that and then look at their hormones at panel and be like, oh my goodness no wonder you feel that way. Yeah. You feel. If it's a tool that helps you through that time, like a bridge to get you from, this is where I am and I'm not doing well, and you need a tool to use an antidepressant, that's one thing, but to look at that as an answer, kind of like a blanket that you put over the problem, right?

It's really sad because I think getting to the root of why you're feeling that way is a much better way to address it than treating it from the top. If you can actually get into what's going on with your hormones and see, you know, is there a way that that can be regulated so that you can produce your own serotonin instead of recycling it with a medication?

That seems to be a better approach, at least to look at. And even if someone's on an antidepressant already, it's still worth looking at your hormones.

Yeah. It can't hurt.

Like it could maybe even lower your antidepressant dose and do both.

Yeah. And like working with your doctor and saying, Hey, you know, if we can get these things right, maybe you won't need that feeling as much and if not, you still need your hormones to be regulated, even if you're being well managed with a pharmaceutical because it's important for so many other things. When all the health initiative stuff came out, we threw the baby out with the bath water. It was like, oh my goodness. Hormones are bad. We have, you know, all these people are getting breast cancer.

But the study group, because it was like I said, women who were post-menopausal starting hormone therapy in their late sixties. At that point, they probably had already regulated and their adrenals were doing enough of the work making hormones that they were sustained, but they didn't do the study on a bioidentical progesterone.

There's still no studies on using that.

Wow. So it was just synthetic hormones.

Yeah. I mean, there's studies, like small scale studies, but they didn't come alongside that and say, oh wow, we did this whole test on synthetic hormones. It was just kind of presented across the board that hormone therapy's bad and we're not gonna do it anymore and that's really left so many women, like in limbo. There were still hormone changes that were still affecting women in their thirties and forties and fifties that could very much benefit from a hormone replacement. But it took the choice away and it became more of, well, you have a hormone dysregulation problem.

We're not gonna attempt to fix that because you might get breast cancer. And so they just washed the whole thing away and said, here, take this medication and maybe you won't notice.


It's really sad to see kind of that everything was washed over that way, but I understand it and I work with cancer patients, so I know that breast cancer is very real and some women have a very high risk factor and so of course when you talk to your practitioner, you're gonna want to assess your family history and your personal history, and you may not be a candidate for hormone replacement, but there's a lot of problems when hormones. Fall really low that people don't talk about too. Hormone deficiencies are cancer risk as well, and so that's where you just kind of wanna know where you're at because sometimes it's the lack of a hormone that can actually cause a cascade of hormone dysregulation that could make someone more susceptible to breast cancer.

There's pros and cons to everything, but bioidentical hormones, which is what you're using, it's a totally different situation because they are body identical to the hormones that you and I make, and they're plant-based, and the body actually receives those and it can get them into the cell. So the other synthetics are like wearing gas on the car instead of putting it in the car, and bioidenticals actually are able to tap into that receptor and get into the cells.

So they work differently in the body. Are they completely without risk? No, but comparatively way, way less risk than trying to use a synthetic that I'm so glad I tested. So don't freak out and just be like, oh, I need to get this done. Make sure you test first and don't just order things 'cause you feel a certain way.

Get your test and try the biodentical hormones.

Yeah. Really help and, and yeah, don't guess.

Absolutely, because I've seen it happen a lot. Let's just, absolutely. The study that I was talking about for depression too, I wanted to note that. It was actually by Dr. Schmidt that did that, and they're actually kind of studying what's going on with women as far as depression and the rise of depression at certain ages and stages of their life. And it says that the doctors actually speculate that antidepressant use among middle-aged women is being driven in part by the reluctance of women and many of their physicians in recent decades to use hormone replacement therapy. And that's all drawing back to that women's health initiative study that did a great job of scaring us all to death and rightly so, but it was based on synthetic hormones and it really didn't present well because they didn't do both. They just lumped everything into that category, and it's left a huge gap honestly, in how we're caring for women who are presenting with anxiety and depression, and they're given medication without ever looking at their hormones.

Or oftentimes because hormones are complex, I feel like it's too much trouble sometimes for people to actually dig down and say, Hey, let's see how we can help you with this. And it's too much work. So it's, it's easier to give an antidepressant than try to sort through someone's hormone issue. Right. And with women, I feel like it's a little more complex than with men.

Yeah. And it all comes back down to being able to make an educated decision about your health. And to be able to do that, you have to know both sides. And I think really it was a disadvantage because there was the one side that synthetic core mines can cause an increased risk of stroke, they can cause breast cancer.

There were real issues and still are, but the trade off was that, well, we're not gonna do anything. Unfortunately, our bodies didn't say, well we're gonna stop having hormone changes now because we can't do anything about it.


And so it's left a gap in how we care for women and as women being heard 'cause I think a lot of women who are having hormone issues, They really want someone to say, you know, this is what's going on. I have irritability. I'm angry easily, more easily than I've ever been. Like, something's not right. And what's actually kind of communicated back is, do you feel depressed because of that?

Well, yeah, you do. I mean, Absolutely. Yeah. Like, oh, I'll just go straight to the symptom. That is just a symptom. And it's like, okay, but why? Because of course, don't overlook that that's real, but what if we could actually get in and fix it from the beginning, you know? That would be such a better way to go.

So as far as how the hormones are affecting anxiety, we know that it does because of how progesterone affects serotonin in the brain. But supplementing with bioidentical progesterone has a lot of benefits. One is it promotes the breakdown of fat. So a lot of the problem with estrogen dominance is that we get weight gain in the middle.

As we get into pre-menopause, we get that wonderful little flubby belly and even around the hips and the thighs, and that's what estrogen does. It grows tissue. Progesterone is that antagonist where it. It's like, no, we're gonna hold you back a little bit. You can't do that. And so it's really helpful to kind of fight the estrogen dominance that causes weight gain.

It also helps with sleep, and that's a major issue for women is they're not sleeping anymore when they go into pre-menopause. And sometimes it's way earlier than that. I work with a lot of clients who have PCOS. That's, and when you have that issue, you have a progesterone dysregulation and it's amazing what progesterone can do for them because they have very painful periods.

Progesterone actually helps balance insulins. Diagnosable PCOS is insulin resistance also. Well, that's because there's not enough progesterone. Progesterone helps the body keep your insulin sensitivity level, so that's what progesterone would do if they had it. So bringing that in, if you know that's the problem, it can change their periods completely, and it can also help with the insulin resistance, so they're not having all this weight gain that furthers the problem.

Oh, that is so interesting.

It also maintains sex drive, so a lot of women have really low libido when they're going through the changes of hormone, and that's because progesterones left the building and so you wanna be able to bring that back in. One amazing thing is that osteoporosis is connected to the loss of progesterone. So a lot of postmenopausal women will have osteopenia or osteoporosis, and that's because progesterone is a key hormone in bone development to follow with that, that if you're decreasing in progesterone and you don't ever do anything about that, then you're gonna have bone loss. And that's a real problem for women as they age.

It's really something that is treated with other issues, but never really curative unless you handle it from this side. It also protects against a fibroid cyst or a fibrocystic breast, so tender breast around your period. It really helps with that, and these are just some of the things that are also symptoms.

If you're having these, then you kind of know, maybe I do have, you see.

Yeah. A lot of these symptoms were like so like loud every single month for me, like my cycle was awful. Every single symptom that you've listed off. But this month has been the first month in years that I've not had any of these symptoms.

And it's just the first month taking progesterone. It's amazing.

Yeah, it's pretty fast acting too. And I know sometimes I'll have clients that haven't had a period for a year and we'll bring progesterone in after looking at their saliva panel and it's like, wow, that was amazing. 'cause they have a cycle within four to six weeks and, and it's not a painful, horrible one because that was the problem.


And that's the key to doing any kind of replacement. If you do make an educated decision and you say, I think risk over benefit, I want to try this. My approach is to say to people, go really low and slow. It's always easier to add more hormone in than it is to take it out. And honestly, with replacement, a 40 year old woman doesn't need the hormone level of a 20 year old.

That's not natural, but you do need the hormone level of a healthy 40 year old. And so getting that restored is really the purpose and, and once you do that, often you can back out and not have the replacement for a while, and then maybe you might need to bring it back in once it's gotten to sufficient levels you can maintain.

Oh, that's amazing. I've learned a lot that it doesn't just affect your anxiety, it affects everything.

Yeah. And why it affects your anxiety and how it's all interconnected. It also affects how your thyroid makes. Thyroid stimulating hormone, which has a lot to do with anxiety too. The thyroid hormones play a huge role in anxiety, and I know we'll have to cover that on another podcast, but it's really good to know it's better to test than guess.

There are things that you can do to become aware of what your hormone levels are. One of those is a saliva panel or even a urine panel, those can be even more extensive, but finding out what's going on in there, that's our job. And if you can do that for yourself, then it's like, okay, now I know what the problem is.

What can we do to start looking at it? And how to resolve that.


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