Do you ever feel like you’re on a mood roller coaster ride?
Written by Cammi Balleck, Ph.D, CTN, ANCB Board Certified Naturopath
Did you know your hormones all work together to create an environment of balance and harmony? An imbalance of one hormone affects them all. For women with a biochemical imbalance, it’s very common to feel like you’re on a mood roller coaster.
Our endocrine system is several glands that control all our hormones and neurotransmitters. Hormones and neurotransmitters are chemicals that control our mental and emotional states. These chemicals help the brain to balance emotions. When we have a problem with one gland such as the thyroid, all the other glands play into it as well. Our endocrine system works like a vehicle and all the parts have to be working at just the right time for us to feel good and be biochemically balanced.
When looking at low thyroid levels, we also need to look at the adrenals, pituitary, hypothalamus, pancreas, and ovaries as well. When you have hypo-thyroid or hypo-adrenals (hypo means low), mood swings can be an everyday problem. Many women feel this way and it’s very common for them to go to a western medical doctor and give symptoms of mood swings, anxiety, or depression, and leave with a prescription for anti-anxiety or an anti-depressant. The truth is, depression is not a drug deficiency. The cause is the common problem of your poorly functioning inflamed glands in the game of emotional stability, and if not working at the right speed, can give you symptoms that include riding on mental roller coasters. As a traditional naturopath I look at the cause not the symptoms.
Most people know the thyroid regulates metabolism, but did you know it is also part of your immune system, nervous system, and also helps the functioning of your brain? Most people think that our brains tell our bodies what to do; however, the truth is that our hormones go into our blood, travel to the brain, and are what tell our brain what to tell our body to do.
Hormone imbalances are hard on us because once the symptoms start, they set in motion an exhausting, self-perpetuating cycle that can be very difficult to stop. This is a downward spiral for most women. Women suffering with low thyroid and/or low adrenals are usually feeling very stressed and overwhelmed, and they are usually irritable and moody. The stress creates more feelings of being overwhelmed, which creates more stress on the adrenal glands, which in turn creates more fatigue, and the cycle continues into a snowballing multi-level problem.
What is low thyroid and adrenal fatigue and why is it happening to me?
Thyroid function is weakened by stress, pollution, bad eating habits, and a history of yo-yo dieting.
If our bodies are working picture perfect, our adrenal glands release, in perfect balance and harmony, the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and DHEA, in order to help us cope with the day-to-day stresses and demands of life. They also have plenty of sleep time to recover, rejuvenate, and replenish themselves in order to come to our aid when called upon. In a perfect world our thyroid would be the boss of other glands and make two important hormones, the hormones stop at each cell, and tell the cell if it needs to be consuming more oxygen and nutrients — thereby stepping up or slowing down its rate of metabolism.
Unfortunately, none of us can create an ideal situation for our hormone system, especially women whose lives are generally wearing and demanding. We have deadlines, jobs, finances, and families to care for, some even have hormonal teens to look after, and some even aging parents or grandparents. All of which can place an enormous stress and strain on our lives and our adrenal glands.
Our adrenal glands can become so overwhelmed and exhausted that they are unable to meet the body’s demand for adrenaline, cortisol, and DHEA. Instead of being in adaption phase where we are able to adapt to everything, we are in a low phase where we cannot adapt at all.
We are also micro-nutrient and mineral deficient. If the stress wasn’t enough, our food that’s our fuel to repair is missing the ingredients (micro-nutrients) we need to heal. None of us eat perfect, and even if we did, the food we eat is deficient in the nutrients we need. It is like putting watered down gas in your car and expecting it to run perfect. Sometimes, even when your thyroid is good and you’re on the right supplements for it, you can still have mood swings if your cortisol is low or high.
Take a moment and think back if you will, to the last time you swerved your car to avoid hitting a deer or another vehicle whose driver was texting and in your lane. How did you feel? Were you shaking? Tense? Out of breath? Was your mind racing? All of the physical reactions during that moment were the result of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, otherwise known as “flight or fight,” when our bodies are under physical stress due to hormone imbalances, stress, lack of sleep, or lack of nutrients. These two stress hormones can also become out of balance as well, they can be too high or too low. As they rise and fall, surges of either one or both of them, can cause feelings of anxiety, heart palpitations, and panic attacks. They can even cause you to bolt awake out of a deep sleep in the dead of night. They cause you to feel wired and tired at the same time.
Balancing Stress Hormones
A main reason you may have anxiety, depression, panic attacks, mood swings and low thyroid function, is a lack of nutrients that are VITAL for the normal function of thyroid hormones. Nutrient deficiencies put a ton of stress on our bodies, especially the thyroid and adrenals. Here are supplements to speak to your doctor about:
1. I recommend that you get a whole food multivitamin. Make sure you are getting selenium and B12 from your multivitamin. Get your selenium and B12 levels tested in case you need to supplement with extra in addition to your multivitamin.
2. It is also important to take Omega-3.
4. Ashwagandha is a great adaptogen herb, meaning it helps the body adapt. It is a great healing herb for the adrenals and thyroid and really good in times of stress.
Most diets are deficient in all these nutrients, even when you think you eat well, you are still deficient. In addition, the thyroid makes free radicals (cell damaging poisons) even when it is running correctly, once the thyroid is slow and working harder, it makes more free radicals causing more inflammation in the body. Free radicals are only neutralized by antioxidants. Once your antioxidant reserves are depleted your thyroid function slows down. Unfortunately, most diets are lacking in nutrients and antioxidants. You should be eating foods with antioxidants in them every day such as grapes, berries, nuts, dark green veggies, and sweet potatoes (this is also good for anti-aging). The supplements mentioned above will enhance the formation of your thyroid hormone and will protect the thyroid gland and liver so they can more efficiently produce and activate hormones. These supplements will make it easier for your body to increase T3, and help the transport of thyroid hormone into cell tissues to turn on your metabolism. These supplements are great to support healthy mood levels, in addition, they will also support healthy weight management, other biochemical balance and cholesterol too, all important to anyone that is struggling with mood swings and thyroid functions. Last, if you have been under a tremendous amount of mental or physical stress you might find thyroid and adrenal glandular supplements taken short term helpful to recovery; however, talk with your natural doctor first before just trying a glandular.
Sleep and exercise, both lifestyle factors are important to balance your moods and hormone balance. It is difficult to sleep without enough exercise. I recommend getting 8-10 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep in a complete dark room without the TV or music on. It is important if you do get up in the middle of the night that you don’t turn a light on as this will give your brain signals that the night is over. I also recommend some form of exercise that you love, just because it’s great for you and will help with stress too. A good walk everyday is good for everyone; in addition, I like yoga, Pilates, and dance too.
Most women have a hormonal imbalance and don’t even know it!
Most people are misdiagnosed and over prescribed.
It is my mission to inform the misinformed.
About Cammi Balleck, Ph.D, CTN, ANCB Board Certified Naturopath
ANCB Board Certified Traditional Naturopath Cammi Balleck is author of the book Happy the NEW Sexy. Cammi is the women’s health expert for Women’s Day, O, Prevention, Shape, and First Magazines as well as a featured expert for TBN, and FOX NEWS NATIONALLY. In addition she has made guest appearances on CW stations in Denver. She can be found on her Happy The New Sexy website.