Many adrenal fatigue sufferers also suffer with depression. Is there a connection?
In today's blog, we want to share about this connection. We feel this connection is often left out of the depression conservation and shouldn’t be.
I will also be giving you 3 self-help strategies for depression.
Whether you've been dealing with depression your whole life, taking medications or not, or just beginning to see that depression might be an issue for you, I am certain what I have to share today will be supportive.
THE REALITY OF DEPRESSION WORLDWIDE
Depression is a serious condition that can greatly affect your relationships, your livelihood, your health and your quality of life. The reality is 1 in 5 people globally have a mental health disorder of some kind. And depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Why are so many people suffering from depression? Is life just harder than it's ever been? Is there more stress than ever? Or is it something else?
Well of course there isn’t just one reason and I know we could talk about this all day. Today, for simplicity sake, I'm just focusing on the depression and the hormonal imbalance connection.
We often think of depression as being all in our head, a cascade of things that get out of control. What if it wasn't actually “in your head”? What if it was actually “in your hormones”? Or shall I say, what if your hormones are at the root of all of it?
WHAT ARE THESE CHEMICALS THAT CREATE AN IMBALANCE?
A chemical imbalance in the brain is said to occur when there’s either too much or too little of certain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, in the brain. Neurotransmitters are natural chemicals that help facilitate communication between your nerve cells. Two common ones include norepinephrine and serotonin, which please note, are also hormones.
There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding this theory (that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain) and actually it’s been largely refuted by the medical community. Click here to read more about that.
Can we go back to serotonin for a moment? It’s important for this conversation to mention that serotonin is mostly found in your digestive system, interesting right? So if you have gut issues, couldn’t that throw off your serotonin levels and lead to symptoms of depression?
And for the sake of being thorough, another theory or cause of depression is abnormal activity in your neural circuits. We know the brain, hormones and the gut are largely connected, so it’s not crazy to hypothesize that gut issues and/or hormonal imbalance could impact our neural circuits, right? I think many of us can say from personal experience that, they do!
Are you starting to see a connection?
KEY POINT: What if your sadness, anxiety, anger, irritability, loss of interest in life wasn't you going "crazy" or whatever else you've labeled it as? What if depression was just a symptom, a symptom of hormonal imbalance or gut issues? And if that's the case, it’s something you could possible move past, with some support.
WHAT IF GETTING YOUR DEPRESSION UNDER CONTROL WAS EASIER THAN YOU THOUGHT?
My point of sharing this connection today is give you
Another explanation that maybe hasn’t been presented to you yet. An explanation that might feel MORE TRUE for you than any other diagnosis or explanation you've gotten from any other doctor.
Or to help lessen the judgement you might have around this condition and/or judgement you might have of yourself.
(For me, the idea that I wasn't crazy and there was a root cause or a reason for my anxiety or depression, helped me so much when I was battling, my story a bit later).
Please understand I'm not a doctor. I'm not a hormone specialist by any means, but I do work alongside them. I’m also an adrenal fatigue survivor, who has now worked in the adrenal fatigue healing space for half a decade. I'm also human, with hormones and a woman who's been through 4 pregnancies… so I know a few things about the power of hormones and their imbalances. I know hormone’s ability to wreak havoc on the body and the mind if out of balance.
Maybe you've been dealing with depression your whole life. Maybe you’re a mom and it came post kids or maybe it’s a recent thing and it seemed to come out of nowhere.
If you have adrenal fatigue most likely your hormones are out of balance in some way. And depression can be a symptom of this hormonal imbalance.
SIDE NOTE OF COMPASSION: With all respect to those that are dealing with this condition on a daily basis, you might not completely agree with what I have to share today and I get that, it’s okay. I do understand that there are many levels, types and degrees of depression and very severe cases. This information might not resonate with you.
However, my intention with this blog is to provide another perspective that is necessary to bring to the table, as well as new insights and a few powerful self-help tools for even the most severe cases out there. And one more thing, I'm TRULY sorry for what you're going through.
So let's get back to hormones, shall we?
BUT YOU’VE BEEN TOLD...YOUR HORMONAL LEVELS ARE FINE
We hear this from sufferers in our recovery community, EVERY DAY. They get their hormones tested by a traditional doctor and they are told their hormones levels are normal.
Before you believe everything your MD says please understand those tests often don't tell the whole story. More often than not they don’t. Let me share a brief personal story, that sounds almost identical to hundreds of other stories from people in our community.
I got my hormone levels tested from my OB, after struggling to get pregnant for over a year. She told me my hormone levels were fine.
I knew there was more to the story, so I went to an Acupuncturist who studied functional medicine. I did the common 4-point cortisol saliva test. I learned I had very low cortisol, my cortisol daily curve was off, I was barely making any DHEA anymore and I had low levels of pregnenolone, a precursor to progesterone. These test results happened to be the start of my own personal adrenal fatigue (AF) journey. This was over 15 years ago and I’d never heard of AF before that.
When I finally got that diagnosis, I finally got answers. I started a supplement, diet and lifestyle protocol and my recovery was JUST months away. And on top of that, I got pregnant within 3 months...after trying for over a year. Interesting right? Thank goodness I didn’t just settle for what my OB said. I could have easily gone down the intense path of infertility interventions and treatments.
So trust yourself and don't settle if deep down you know something isn't right. Or a doctor’s diagnosis doesn’t resonate with you.
In regards to depression, it might not be genetic or “in your head”, like they might tell you. It could be “in your hormones”.
CONSIDER GETTING TESTED
Yes, testing is an investment, but it's the best investment you will make. Doing a lot of trial and error with supplements can slow down the recovery process, lead to nasty side effects, waste your money, waste your time and add way more stress and frustration, overloading your tired adrenals even more.
SO BACK TO DEPRESSION AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
I promised to give you 3 self-help strategies for depression. As a mindset coach, this is absolutely my favorite thing to do and I’ve had quite a bit of success with it too. I've had so many of my adrenal fatigue clients who have been in therapy for years… have powerful breakthrough from just one coaching session with me and using the strategies I'm about to share with you.
Often, when intense emotions, feelings and/or thoughts arise with depression, we are prone to do a few things:
1. We judge the thought, feeling, or emotion as bad or wrong and/or we judge ourselves as bad or wrong, or maybe even “crazy”
2. We try to push those feelings or thoughts away because they don’t feel that great, right?
3. We begin to label ourselves as depressed and lock that into our bodies as WHO WE ARE.
Any of that sound familiar?
WHAT IF FROM NOW ON YOU COULD TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
Would you be willing to experiment with something that even therapists don’t talk about? Experiment with a new way of doing things that has the potential to change your life?
DEPRESSION SELF-HELP STRATEGY #1
INSTEAD OF JUDGING THE INTENSE EMOTION OR DEPRESSED THOUGHT, DO THIS...
Make an observation and even say it out loud if it helps. Something like "Okay, I'm having an intense feeling or thought right now." Practicing the art of not judging it will change the energy.
What if the intense thought or emotion was just simply an awareness or, in other words, a message from your body, and not a wrongness? The body and mind is always trying to talk to us, but we often don’t listen.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE JUDGE
When we judge ourselves, our emotions, our thoughts... it cuts ourselves off from our power, our essence, the energy of the universe and higher powers. (okay this maybe too woo-woo for you, but I'd love for you to hear me out). I could do a blog or a whole term paper on this topic, but to keep it simple...here’s my key point.
KEY POINT: It's the JUDGEMENT you have of the thought or feeling that starts the depressed thoughts into a perpetual, ongoing cycle and locks them into your body, NOT THE THOUGHT or FEELING ITSELF. Does that make sense?
Before I share my other 2 depression self-help strategies, I’d like to share my story.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH DEPRESSION
At the end of 2017, I had just given birth to my daughter who I knew wasn't going to survive birth. We learned at 24 weeks of pregnancy she had a lethal diagnosis and she couldn't live outside my body for longer than a few moments. As you can imagine, the last trimester of pregnancy was a challenging time, filled with lots of intense thoughts and emotions. I was preparing for my daughter’s birth and death, at the same time. I had the tools I'm sharing with you today, to help me get through this challenging time, thank goodness. But you know what was the hardest time?
It was 2 months postpartum, shortly after the pain and intensity of keeping my breast milk from coming in, it was that shift in my hormones that things started to get really hard. It was those darn hormones again, right?
Those intense and heavy emotions came with breathing complications, what many refer to as anxiety attacks. It was scary and even though I was able to calm myself down many times during those months, it did land me in the emergency room twice.
See the point I’m trying to make here?
So far through the 3rd trimester, even her birth and death I somehow was able to cope, work through and process the emotions, the devastation, the heartbreak. The emotions of learning that I was never going to be able to take my baby girl home, or be able to see my baby smile or watch her grow. I woke up everyday and took care of myself, my family and my son.
It was in some way doable... I guess you would say with lots of support and tools, until a powerful hormonal shift and then I was really tested. It changed everything for me. It was SOOO heavy, feelings I’d NEVER felt before. I felt in some way I could finally relate to all my friends and family members who have struggled with depression.
Because of the knowledge I had about hormones that I'm sharing with you today, I trusted it was just a result of hormones shifting, it was a process I just had to work through. I knew deep down I would get through it. That belief made all the difference.
I practiced not judging the thoughts and feelings, or claiming it as mine (don’t worry that’s coming). I trusted that it was going to pass and guess what, after about 4 months it did.
KEY POINT: DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER THAT HORMONES CAN HAVE ON YOUR MIND.
Okay so back to the self-help strategies...
DEPRESSION SELF-HELP STRATEGY #2
INSTEAD OF PUSHING THE THOUGHTS OR EMOTIONs AWAY, DO THIS...
Honor them! Take a moment to be with it. (Here's a little motivation. Do this because if you don't, it will keep coming back to haunt you, OVER AND OVER AGAIN.)
Ask if there is a message underneath the thought and emotion (but don't THINK too much or try to figure it out). Instead, let it come to you, that's where the TRUTH is. Don't expect the answer to come right away, it often doesn't. Just ask and trust it will show up.
DEPRESSION SELF-HELP STRATEGY #3
INSTEAD OF LABELING YOURSELF AS DEPRESSED OR HAVING DEPRESSION, DO THIS..
Ask yourself a series of questions..
Why ask questions, you ask? Sounds silly, right?. Well, it’s helpful to understand that most of our thoughts are conclusions and conclusions lock things into place in our lives, our minds and our bodies. When we ask the right kinds of questions, it can lighten up our world and create a different possibility.
Here are a few questions to play with: (I’m warning you this is different, so be ready!)
QUESTION 1: Is this depression, these intense emotions or thoughts even mine?
I know it sounds crazy, but if it makes you feel lighter after asking that question, then it wasn't ever yours. What? Let me explain. Many of the thoughts, beliefs, and emotions we have everyday aren’t truly ours. They have been adopted from others or projected onto us by others (often people closest to us during our younger, formative years). We have bought them as ours. Many of us play out those same patterns in our lives, that our parents or siblings did. I also see this with couples.
What many of us don't realize or have never been told just how receptive we are. We are like radio receivers, we can feel and pick up the emotions from people all around us.
KEY POINT: We can misidentify these intense emotions, thoughts, beliefs as ours when they are ACTUALLY not ours.
If after you ask the question, “are these thoughts, feeling and emotions or this depression I’ve been experiencing, even mine?” and you 100% feel that they didn’t come from anyone else, they are truly yours, then you can ask this…
QUESTION 2: “What would it take to shift this heavy emotion or feeling? (again the answer might not come to you right away, but just asking the question allows a different energy or feeling to arise.)
As far as what you need to shift the emotion, feeling, or energy (as I like to call it) is different for everyone and can change at any moment. Because you’re just beginning to practice these new ideas, I’m going to leave you with some ideas that my clients enjoy to shift intense energy, thoughts and emotions. Until you learn what your OWN body and mind needs, you can play with these:
1. Go for a 5 minute walk around the block.
2. Ask a roommate or partner for a hug.
3. Sit and journal about what's coming up. You might finally have a breakthrough that could shift everything.
4. Do 5 rounds of box breathing. Box breathing goes like this...Inhale for 4 second count, hold breath in for 4, exhale for 4, hold breath out for 4.
5. Ask some questions…
“What would it take for me to step beyond this depression I’m experiencing? or
“What else is possible for my life beyond depression?” ‘
Just asking the question can break the vicious neural pathways that have been established. And more than just asking the question, you have to tap into what it would feel like to already have what you’re asking for. This will involve raising your energetic vibration. What? you say.
If you’re anything like I was years ago, you’re skeptical, thinking all this couldn’t be that easy. You’re not really sure what raising your energetic vibration even means. But what if deep down you did. You’re an amazing being, just think about all the things your body is doing right now to function and stay live, pretty amazing riight? So just ask the questions, feel into the energy of having what you want and see what happens. DON”T TRY, JUST DO IT. Yes, it will feel funny at first, but if it worked and started to change your life, wouldn’t it be worth it?
Enjoy exploring these strategies and remember you have nothing to lose by trying something new like this. No nasty side effects here.
In conclusion, if you've been dealing with symptoms of adrenal fatigue and depression, but haven't had your hormones and mineral levels checked by a Naturopathic or Functional Medicine Doctor, we highly you consider you get tested. What if underneath your depression and anxiety was just some imbalances that can be fixed. Imagine having that clarity so you can target all the right things and finally step beyond the fatigue, the anxiety or depression and start to experience a whole new life. Take the guesswork out of your recovery. What else is possible for you?!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What are your thoughts on all this, ahas, judgements, whatever, all is welcome here.
All my love,