Morning sadness, progesterone and perimenopause (eek!)

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The last year or so, I wake up in the mornings feeling sad. Not about anything in particular, but I just have a sense of sadness that rushes over me as I force myself out of bed. It’s not every day, and it’s not all the time. It’s just that for a few hours of many mornings, I feel depressed. I have journaled off and on about my experience, trying to pinpoint exactly what it is that causes my swing in mood. I’ve never been able to find a source, though. After a few hours of “life” in the morning, the melancholy lifts and I can continue my day. Thankfully, having 5 young children forces me out of bed in the morning, and keeps me from becoming too wrapped up in my own problems. I honestly don’t “see” anything to be sad about–I have a great marriage, healthy kids (yes, there are a lot of them, and it is a challenge at times), and an overall wonderful life. About 6 months ago, I had a bunch of tests done, including thyroid, just to see if anything showed up as a “red flag,” but everything was normal. I have done Whole30’s to see if it was diet-related, but with no real improvement. I have increased my time with the Lord, getting up early and spending extra time in prayer and reflection. And while that is enjoyable and something that I strongly feel benefits me in many ways, the sadness continued. I have tried “de-stressing” and forcing myself to take breaks during the day and going out with friends to help break the monotony of parenting, homeschooling and being the wife of a Superman with many dietary needs. And those things are all good, but again–not a cure for whatever it is that plagues me. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that my circumstances in life are just stressful and that I need to figure out a way to get through each morning.

Then, a few months ago, other “symptoms” started to pop up. My menstrual cycles began to fluctuate (after being consistently regular since we changed our diet 2 years ago), I started to have a hard time falling asleep at night and began to wake up at least 5 or 6 times. Headaches plagued me off and on the 2nd half of my cycle, and I felt tired a lot, especially in the afternoons (most likely due to my lack of quality sleep). And finally, about a month ago, any time I was resting I could feel my heart pounding as though it were going to leap out of my chest. Trying to fall asleep at night was a disaster, as all I could focus on was the incredibly loud heartbeat pounding in my throat.

I started to wonder if something was off hormonally. I have a history of low Progesterone, and when trying to get pregnant with our oldest son, ended up on Progesterone suppositories to help me maintain my pregnancy. I have researched bio-identical hormones and found a doctor in our area who specializes in women’s health and hormone issues. So yesterday I had an appointment with her. After hearing all my symptoms, she said she didn’t even feel the need to run a blood test to confirm that I have officially entered Perimenopause (which, of course, can last for 10 years), and have low Progesterone (and suggested I take a low dose of natural topical Progesterone cream). She also recommended that I take a low dose of DHEA to help with mood stabilization, and energy levels. Today I’m going in to my general practitioner to request both progesterone and DHEA blood tests just to verify and to see where I am on the spectrum.

So, we’ll see. I have no idea if these bio-identical hormones will improve the situation, but I’m willing to give it a try. I know there is some controversy that surrounds this type of therapy, and I can understand why. I am always open, however, to alternative therapies, especially when I know that our experience with western medicine has often left us feeling…frustrated. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

My question for you is: Have you had experience with hormone replacement therapy? If so, has it been positive or negative?
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  1. Vanessa says

    Good morning Shanti. Wow, reading your article was like me telling someone sitting next to me the exact same thing. That is exactly what I’ve been experiencing and I too have increased my time with the Lord, changed my diet (plant based, clean eating), increased exercise and even bought a Tempurpedic bed to help with the sleepless nights. I suffer with ‘hot flashes’ during the night to the point I look like I went swimming with my clothes on some mornings. I’m at the point now that I do need to see my doctor to find out what if anything can be done to alleviate some of these horrible symptoms. I am VERY nervous to take a sort of hormone replacement drugs because cancer is so prevelant in our family. I’ll be 42 on 09/23 and I’m sure my body is changing/hormones are changing. I see it so clearing even in my skin. I too would like to be able to alleviate some of these symptoms with the least amount of medication. Please keep us posted and thank you for sharing this time in your life.

    • says

      Oh, Vanessa, you poor thing! I have researched the progesterone cream quite a bit, and in low doses, many studies have shown it to actually be a cancer-reducer. There are other inconclusive studies, though. As for the DHEA, I do not plan on taking it long term–it is something we will try for 6-8 weeks and then see how I do if I stop taking it. Good luck with beginning the fun of “the change”! =)

  2. Sheilla says

    It sounds to me like it could be Adrenal Fatigue, I would have your Cortisol levels tested by a Naturopath or Chiropractor. Often times when we enter perimenopause it causes adrenal fatigue and Dr.s assume it’s perimenopause I would suggest checking out the sight women to women online.

    • says

      Hi, Sheilla! Yes, adrenal fatigue is potentially a problem, that is why the doc suggested DHEA, which is supposed to help support my adrenal glands to produce what they need to. I will look into getting my cortisol levels checked as well, though.

  3. Danielle says

    I had the exact same thing with my 1st pregnancy. I did not need to take progesterone in my second pregnancy. I have had problems with weight loss (despite whole 30, paleo and crossfit.) My doctors (GP and OB/GYN) all said I am healthy, etc. I went to a Naturopath last month and she ran a test. I have very low cotisol in the AM and mid morning. I am now taking an adrenal complex and starting to feel much better as well as another remedy. I would check with a Naturopath as well if you can. Good luck!

  4. Debbie says

    I haven’t been through hormone replacement therapy, but my brother-in-law is a compounding pharmacist who specializes in natural HRT. When I complained a few months ago about how I might possibly be heading into the realm of perimenopause, he recommended this book to me:

    I bought it, but haven’t started reading it yet. Maybe it’ll be useful to you or some of your readers.

    • says

      I’ll look into that book! The progesterone and DHEA that this doc recommends are both plant based, natural supplements. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for sharing the book!

  5. Kim says

    I have had VERY similar symptoms as well. However, I’m 31 and we haven’t had kids yet … so I sure hope it is not perimenopause! The insomnia started out mild ~10 years ago but intensified in the past year, along with fatigue, pounding heart and not so much sadness as just total lack of emotion. Herbal supplements from a naturopath doctor have helped a little, and I recently went off my birth-control pills which seems to have helped a little more. I’ve had bloodwork run and the only thing that has showed up is elevated liver enzymes – – so maybe that’s related, maybe it’s not. I’m hoping that maybe a longer time off the pill will allow my hormones to “normalize”. Every doctor I’ve seen has denied that the birth control pill could cause these symptoms, but I don’t understand how they could be unrelated when fluctuations of the very same hormones cause these exact symptoms during peri/menopause.

  6. Sarah says

    Well, I do not claim at all to know what I’m talking about, but I do have some similar experiences, and thought I would share. :)

    I would feel sad in the morning, and my mood would snap in a moment to anger. I also would be dizzy getting up and could not loose weight. If I ate anything but meat and veggies, I gained a pound over night. A whole pound. Any way, my thyroid was “fine” but the doc thought maybe it wasn’t being converted into T3 correctly, once the thyroid released the T4, in my gut. She said that is a side symptom of adrenal fatigue.

    All that to be said, she put me on Chaste Tree for the hormones. Which helped a ton. I am taking aderenal support. This is my second time of being fatigued, and the first time I healed myself by taking ashwaghda, eutheroll, and magnesium. This time I actually know a doc who knows what they are doing. :) So I’m trying her way. I will be starting a thyroid script soon just to help support, but what I have found the best is vitamin C and Brazil nuts like crazy. She also told me to eat every two hours so I do nothing to stress my body.

    Honestly, I am really starting to feel better. I still haven’t loss weight, but that is ok. At least it has stopped coming on. It’s funny because I feel like, “What is there to be fatigued about?” Like you, my life is similar with 4 kids and this crazy diet we have to medically be on, plus home schooling. You know what, it is a lot. It’s what God has given us to do in our life, and thankfully He’ll take care of our bodies while we do this. :).

    On a last side note, the doc pin pointed adrenal fatigue because when I layed down and then stood up my blood pressure dropped. She explained it had something to do with my heart and sugar levels but I was to tired to comprehend! lol. Good luck. :)

    • says

      Interesting! I’m getting my cortisol levels, DHEA and progesterone checked tomorrow, so we’ll see what they come back like. Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. Erika Nall says

    It doesn’t sound like you have any unexplained weight gain, which is a good thing. And your diet and exercise regime is helping your symptoms overall, which again is another good thing. Here are the supplements Dr. Jade Teta, a Natutropath physician, recommends for his peri/menopausal clients. I won’t write specific doses because that probably depends on the client’s condition, but hopefully this give you other treatments to research.

    1. Vitex 2. Black Cohosh 3. Rhodiola 4. DIM 5.Green Tea Extract 6.Magnesium 7.Vit D if serum D is not 50 to 100ng/ml 8. Possible pregenenolone, progesterone or bio-identical HRT therapy (speak to an integrative physician)

    • says

      Thanks, Erika! I am currently taking Magnesium, Vit. D, and will start the Progesterone (bioidentical) and DHEA after I get my test results back. I’m also taking Zinc, Iron and Omega 3. I’ll look into the other ones you mentioned!


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