Guest post by Dr. Tracy Thomas
Back in 2007, when I first started working with my hormonal specialist on my own hormones, he told me. . .
“I can help you with the hormonal balancing. But if you don’t change your lifestyle, it’s never going to work.”
If you’re on this website, I’m willing to bet that you already have some inkling about how important your hormones are.
You know that if your thyroid is out of whack, it causes your system to shut down, or speed up when you don’t really need it to. This means that your cognitive processes are off – and so are your emotional responses.
But what did my doctor mean about changing your lifestyle? And why would your lifestyle keep hormonal treatments from working?
Today, I’d like to talk about the direct connection between hormones and mental health.
I’m a licensed psychologist, coach, and consultant. I send every single one of my clients for an extensive hormonal evaluation.
Now, that’s somewhat unheard of for psychologists. (Thinking about hormones just isn’t part of our training.)
But I’ve seen time and time again how hormones are linked to mental and emotional issues.
If you. . .
- feel depressed, or anxious – or both, or cycle back and forth between the two. . .
- have had an uphill battle with your weight. . .
- are always tired. . .
- have problems with addiction or even mild substance abuse. . .
- are angry and can’t concentrate. . .
- have trouble sleeping. . .
Any and all of the above (and more) may be caused by a hormonal imbalance.
If you don’t take care of your hormonal imbalances, then you’ll still have those chemical reactions happening in your body. Fixing any kind of psychological issue is going to be a much longer and more difficult process, no matter how many therapy sessions you sit through.
But here’s the “chicken or the egg” dilemma. . .
Which came first –
The hormonal imbalance that causes your unhealthy lifestyle?
Or your unhealthy lifestyle that causes the hormonal imbalance?
Just like the doc told me, fixing your hormones is just one part of the equation.
Hormonal imbalances themselves can cause you to make poor lifestyle choices and have psychological issues.
What I’ve come to discover, though, is that hormonal imbalances can also be a symptom of poor lifestyle choices and a poor relationship with yourself.
Perhaps you had unknown hormonal issues at 27 which caused you to be depressed and self-medicate. . .
. . .Or perhaps you had a poor relationship to yourself, and didn’t know how to care for yourself – and so that caused the hormonal issues, which then caused the depression and self-medication.
(If you’re over a certain age, it’s normal for your hormone levels to shift, which could cause symptoms leading to mental health issues, as well. But also realize that if you push yourself and treat yourself poorly, you will start to see these symptoms at a younger age. It becomes hard to determine what is normal for your age, and what is actually early hormonal loss. Either way, the good news is that you can work to regain balance – at any age.)
Or look at it this way. . .
If your thyroid is sped up (hyperthyroidism), and your cortisol is high, then you’ll likely experience anxiety. It feels like everything is of “life or death” importance. You’re in Survival Mode.
But, even if you work on balancing out your thyroid, it’s still up to you to change your lifestyle. If you continue to operate as though you have to answer that email or take that call or work until midnight, then you’re still telling your system that it needs to stay in Survival Mode. And that means your body will continue to produce the hormones that help you stay in high gear.
It turns into one long cycle, and it’s hard to tell how it started.
Either way, the psychological issues are a manifestation of your central nervous system being in chronic overdrive.
Your hormonal issues, no matter how they came about, are information about your relationship with yourself. If we don’t heal that at the ROOT, then all the bioidentical hormones in the world won’t work.
So, yes – address your hormones with someone who knows what they are doing.
But take some time to evaluate how you treat yourself, too. Because the stress you cause yourself can take you right back to square one.
For example, I’ve been working with my hormonal specialist regularly for about 7 years now.
But when I push myself too hard and don’t honor the self-care infrastructure I’ve built for myself, I know that my carefully balanced hormones will still get out of whack.
And that will start to manifest as a tired body, food cravings, irritability, emotional overload, and other signals that I’m given to slow down, stop and strategically self-care.
My clients experience the same. Which is why they continue working with me long-term on their own self-care infrastructures.
Together, we make sure their daily routines keep them healthy. And we tackle their relationship to themselves – which is what I believe to be the most important ingredient in this recipe for wellness.
So, as you embark on the journey of healing your hormones, don’t forget to take care of YOU in all the other ways.
Because that is how you’ll experience a lifetime of true, overall wellness.
Dr. Tracy Thomas is a psychologist who works with top executives, leaders, and celebrities. Her approach includes a unique hormonal evaluation to uncover hidden imbalances that rarely get detected and are obstacles to optimal wellness and success. Want to start existing with greater ease and enjoyment?
Get Dr. Tracy’s free guide, “A New Brand of Self-Care” by clicking here.