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Heather Locklear Hormone Deficient? by Candice Lane, M.D.

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:59am


          Heather Locklear returned home on July 23, after spending a month in a spa-like treatment facility in Arizona for anxiety and depression. Articles imply she was already on medication and needed it adjusted. Certainly her recent public divorce is a reason for situational depression.

          W ith all due respect, I have one question. Has Heather had her hormones checked?   Now this might bring a collective groan, but think about it. Locklear is almost 47, well into the perimenopause and hormone loss. She looks young and beautiful, but our bodies have a relentless “biological clock” that cannot be ignored. We know that testosterone and progesterone are the first hormones to decline. Testosterone is linked to maintaining emotional shield and may prevent panic attacks. Progesterone deficiency causes irritability, mood swings, depression, and insomnia. Progesterone has a calming effect on the body by stimulating the calming GABA receptors in the brain. Add a little loss of estrogen which stimulates calming serotonin production, and emotional lability, weepiness, and depression can follow. Added to this is that the FDA has warned that anti-depressants themselves may increase depression and suicidality.

Medications like hormonal birth control or Prempro only make matters worse because progestins in these medications inhibit the production of the body’s progesterone and occupy progesterone receptors. I have had several patients lately on hormonal birth control come in with depression. They are on things like Mirena and Nuvaring, both of which secrete potent progestins (not progesterone) in the circulation that occupy progesterone receptors and deplete progesterone thereby preventing the calming effect of progesterone and natural hormonal balance. This effect may be more pronounced as we get older, since we are also losing our progesterone by our ovaries beginning to shut down. Post-partum depression is associated with a drop in progesterone after childbirth. Giving progesterone post-partum can prevent this depression.

          Stress makes matters worse. When we have stress our adrenal glands increase our production of cortisol which is our hormone that controls our daily sleep-wake cycle and our fight or flight response. The body will use all its resources to make cortisol, a hormone we cannot live without.   The body uses progesterone to help make cortisol, so stress situations may make progesterone levels lower. This may be the connection between stress and infertility. Chronic stress gives way to fatigue as the body struggles to keep up with the stress demand. Both adrenal stress and fatigue can further intensify depression through fluctuations in cortisol and progesterone. Relaxation may allow temporary improvement, but the perimenopausal body still continues its relentless progesterone and estrogen decline. In addition, adrenal fatigue and stress may effect thyroid function by altering the efficiency of how thyroid hormone is working in the body. Low thyroid function can cause depression. So treating hormone deficiency has to take all the hormones into account.

          All this may sound confusing, but it works. I recently had a patient that was on a few antidepressants and seeing a therapist. She balanced her hormones and within a few months got off all her medications and is feeling great. I personally had that experience as well. After 10 years of anti-depressants and counseling to no avail, I started on bioidentical hormones for perimenopausal hormones loss. I was able to get off all anti-depressants and am doing  better than ever with mood and outlook. (That’s an article in itself but we’re talking crying at the drop of a hat, irritable on the road and in parking lots, and general helpless and hopeless to doing just fine.) 

          Suzanne Somers’s has called anti-depressants, sleeping pills, and pain medicine, the “menopause cocktail”. As a former member of that club, I can attest to the truth of it. Initially, being uninformed and thinking I was still “young”, I did not put it together. It was only through proactive seeking that I found what was missing and that was my hormones. I recommend a good reading of Suzanne Somers’s “Ageless”. With bioidentical hormone replacement we can treat the underlying cause of our mid-life perimenopausal changes and be ourselves again.


Candice Lane, M.D.,   Diplomate and Fellow American Academy for Anti-aging Medicine, 1250 La Venta Dr., Ste.206, Westlake Village, CA 91361, 805-496-7869, 877-496-4289

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