Dr. Kathy Maupin and Brett Newcomb discuss the developing shift in medical and research thinking in which female patients are beginning to receive separate consideration than male patients. They also discuss how this shift in research affects the post-menopausal female patients that are experiencing symptoms of diminished testosterone.
Until recently, most medical research has been done on the male gender: from lab rats to humans. Now because of changes in the federal requirements, women are also becoming an independently-studied group. We are finding out some very interesting things about the differences between men and women. Differences vary from the way we process and metabolize medicines (which means adjusting dosages for sex and size,) to the way our minds work and our moods fluctuate.
In today’s healthcast we are going to be discussing mood and memory issues in menopausal women. Much of our information comes from the work of Dr. Hyla Cass. We had an opportunity to hear her speak at a recent AMMG medical conference.
One of the focal points of her presentation was the issue of depression and fatigue among women. In addition to the cultural issues and perceptions that inhibit men from speaking about their depression or their mental fatigue, we focused on the physiological differences and the higher prevalence of depression among women than men. One of the primary differences may be the loss of testosterone in women as they age, during menopause. Historically, testosterone loss has not been considered to be a female issue. Our book, The Secret Female Hormone, explains a lot of this history and identifies that testosterone is just as necessary and just as much a female hormone as it is a man’s hormone. If women have their testosterone replaced as needed, we believe that their statistical representation in the area of depression and fatigue will diminish.
As a practicing physician, I always want to look as broadly as possible at the presentation of the patient. I do not want to just jump in and begin to treat a symptom without understanding the greater picture. So, I am less likely to want to prescribe an antidepressant before I find out if there are hormonal issues such as the loss of testosterone that could be causing the problem. If there are, then I want to replace the lost testosterone rather than prescribe an antidepressant. I would hope that other physicians follow similar practices.
Another possible hormone deficiency that could cause these symptoms is hypo-thyroidism. If the thyroid is producing less hormone than is needed, the symptoms can include fatigue and depression. The point being that hormones are the cause for many illnesses that are not considered when thinking of treatment plans. We have developed a tendency to jump in and treat the symptom and not look further. That must be challenged. Let’s look at the physical causes of depression before we begin to treat it medically.
Listen to this week’s healthcast and learn more about the differences between men and women that have physiological causes and are not necessarily caused by emotional stress and imbalance. These are overlapping and interactive processes. Both hormonal and psychological causes should be considered in developing a treatment protocol for an individual patient.