Each year 1.3 million women reach menopause in the United States. Although most women transition to menopause without experiencing psychiatric problems, it is estimated that 20% have depression at some point during menopause.
Studies have generally shown an increased risk of depression throughout perimenopause, however, there is a decrease in risk of depression during postmenopausal years.
So, is there a connection between your hormones and depression. Studies have indicated that changes in estrogen levels, may be related to depressive symptoms in the menopausal transition of some women.
Estrogen has a close relationship with the brain and can affect the chemical messengers of the nervous system. Serotonin and norepinephrine are thought to be the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) of the brain that are related to the physiologic cause of depression.
Although the precise mechanisms are yet unknown, as estrogen levels decline, regulation of serotonin and norepinephrine may change which may contribute to depression.
As most women can attest, depression is significantly linked to times of hormonal changes in females. Observations and data suggest that depression in women begins at puberty. Hormonal changes are thought to contribute to pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD, PMS), as well as mood changes after giving birth and in perimenopause.
Scientists have discovered that women with a history of mood disorders or of premenstrual and postpartum mood-related symptoms are more likely to experience depression during menopause when hormones start declining.
In addition to hormonal changes, women with particular types of stressors seem to be at increased risk for perimenopausal depression. Such stressors or factors include the following:
It is never easy to experience depression or to see your loved one be depressed. In my practice, I oftentimes observe a positive improvement in the mood after a woman’s or man’s hormones are balanced. Sometimes the depression is so severe that the patient’s loved ones seek help for the patient. It is important to note that depression is a very complicated physiological and psychological disorder and hormones may be an important piece of this puzzle.
If you or your loved one suffer from mood disorders, a simple blood test to check your hormone levels and a hormone consultation may be an important step in seeking help and getting closer to recovery. For more information call me at 480-264-7600
As a female pharmacist specializing in women’s care, I often hear about women’s concerns regarding sexual dysfunction. According to statistics, 40 percent of women between the ages of 45-64, living in the US, have sexual concerns.
To address the concerns of many individuals with sexual dysfunction, we are always looking for different concoctions to help men and women with their sexuality.
Some helpful approaches may include addressing overall hormone balance, vaginal dryness, using arousal enhancing creams and compounded Testosterone and DHEA when appropriate. Another possible solution involves using a hormone called Oxytocin. You are probably familiar with the name since Oxytocin is used as a medication to facilitate childbirth. A recent study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior suggested that the intensity of orgasm and contentment after sexual intercourse were increased upon Oxytocin administration. That is why Oxytocin is also known as the “love hormone”. For women, Oxytocin levels increase one minute after orgasm but return close to normal within five minutes afterwards. For men, Oxytocin levels increase during sexual arousal and persist beyond ejaculation.
There are additional benefits to using Oxytocin. This amazing hormone that is produced in the hypothalamus (part of the brain), can be a great pain reliever. It plays a role in social bonding, sexual reproduction in both sexes, and during and after childbirth. Furthermore, Oxytocin lowers serum cortisol which is often called “stress hormone”. That is why it can improve mood. The “love hormone”, Oxytocin, is a hormone that can also promote feelings of intimacy. In recent years we have seen an increase in demand for compounding Oxytocin for many different medical conditions. At Community Clinical Pharmacy, we compound Oxytocin lozenges as well as nasal sprays. The lozenges can be made using the flavor of your choice. Some of the popular flavors are marshmallow, raspberry, banana and mint. Oxytocin lozenges are to be dissolved in the cheek or under the tongue 5-15 minutes prior to intimacy. Of course, sexual arousal and function in women is very complicated and not everyone would benefit from the same treatment. Therefore it is important to talk to an expert and discover what options may be appropriate for you. For more information and to set up a consultation appointment with me to discuss your options, please contact Community Clinical Pharmacy.
Is DHEA the magic bullet to boost your energy? In this day and age, so many of us talk about being tired. We have stressful and busy lives. Some of us have to work a full time job, run a business, take care of family, teenagers and elderly parents. Simply put, we are exhausted. One of the most frequent concerns that I hear from my patients is “I am tired. Can you give me something to boost my energy?”. Looking at the wide array of supplements you can find online and on the shelves of pharmacies or health food stores, there seems to be plenty of choices. But do they actually work? Which one do we get? Are there any side effects?
One of these magical so called energy boosters is DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). Let’s take a closer look at some facts.
DHEA is a hormone produced by your ovaries and adrenal glands (located above your kidneys). DHEA blood levels are age dependent meaning that DHEA levels peak in your twenties and then decline with age They decrease to 20-30% of peak levels between 70 and 80 years of age.
DHEA helps to make other hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. In your adrenal glands and liver, DHEA changes to DHEA-S (DHEA-sulfate). You will often see me check the DHEA-S level to determine whether your adrenal glands are working well.
High DHEA-S Levels in females can cause increased body and facial hair, no menstrual periods, acne, hair loss (scalp), fertility problems, deep voice, male pattern baldness, enlarged Adam’s apple, irritability and aggressiveness.
Research on DHEA for specific conditions includes:
Aging. Research hasn’t proved this to be true. In theory, DHEA supplements could slow the aging process, possibly improving well-being, cognitive function and body composition. In reality, there is no evidence of DHEA being effective in doing the above.
Depression. DHEA might be more effective at treating depression than placebo.
Osteoporosis. Some improvements in bone mineral density have been observed in elderly people with low DHEA. But these improvements were small compared with those seen after treatment with approved osteoporosis medications.
Vaginal atrophy. Limited research suggests that DHEA might improve vaginal dryness in postmenopausal women. We carry DHEA vaginal cubes at Community Clinical Pharmacy. They are over the counter and inexpensive. In addition, Prasterone (Intrarosa) vaginal inserts are FDA approved for vaginal atrophy and available by prescription.
Research on the effects of DHEA on body composition, energy and well-being has had mixed results. Most studies have shown no positive effect of DHEA on cognitive function or on muscle size or strength. However, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has banned DHEA use among athletes.
In my practice, I do not recommend taking DHEA pills without checking your level first. A very low or high level of DHEA-S may indicate adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue. Once I know your level, and after assessing your symptoms, risk factors and other lab results, I may then recommend DHEA for you. There has been concerns about the consistency of DHEA content in OTC capsules in the past. Bottles of at least three brands of DHEA were tested by an independent laboratory and showed that they contained less of the potent hormone than they say they did. For that reason, I recommend compounded prescription version of DHEA. Either way, I strongly discourage patients against taking DHEA without knowing your levels.
To find out if your low energy is related to adrenal fatigue and or low DHEA level, contact me at 480-264-7600. We can determine the health of your adrenal glands through a simple saliva test and take appropriate measures, which may include DHEA.