Can therapy counter-act hormones?
February 18, 2016 12:27 PM   Subscribe

I had been making some progress on the whole 'stop worrying about everything and try to be less sensitive' front. All of it went out the window when I started a medication that affects my hormone levels. Is there a way to CBT yourself out of biology, or will I be a nervous wreck forever?

The short version is, I am a natural worrier-type and have worked very hard, through CBT and a very good therapist, to develop some coping strategies.

Recently, I was put on some medication as part of the IVF process which very closely mimics pregnancy hormones (I explain this part only because I can stop taking the medication when I actually do get pregnant, but at that point there will be the same hormones, just naturally, so this will be a fairly long-term situation).

And now...well, I seem to be going a little off the deep end a little and forgetting all my good habits. I absolutely cannot take a joke anymore. I get teary over really dumb stuff. A part of me recognizes that I am being ridiculous, but I can't seem to turn it off---and then I get even more worked up because I fall into that shame spiral of 'if even I am annoyed by myself right now, everyone else must be REALLY annoyed with me.'

Given that something is actually biologically going on that is affecting my biochemistry, is it even possible to CBT my way out of this? How can I restore at least a little of my less hyper-sensitive ways?
posted by JoannaC to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
CBT gives you tools and beliefs to help deal with whatever horrible stuff your brain is telling you, a tune-up can't hurt.

And be patient with yourself, you're doing something difficult and it's okay to need some extra treats / self care.
posted by momus_window at 1:42 PM on February 18, 2016

My experience, with hormones during pregnancy, is that therapy did help me improve my coping skills to better deal with a new, heightened level of anxiety. Of course, what worked far better was that over time, the hormones shifted to a different balance that was much better for my anxiety. But in the meantime, therapy was a valuable lifeline.
posted by slidell at 1:45 PM on February 18, 2016

My uterus tries to kill me every month by telling me I should walk in front of traffic. I feel the despair and/or rage, and now as my period schedule has become entirely unpredictable, I don't know when this is going to happen and can't have my calendar pop up just at the right moment to remind me that I will feel better again in a week, so I tend to take this experience on face value and believe it.

My current CBT therapist is all about process, not end goals. There's no cure, no final step. We are working together to put in place habits and strategies to deal with a variety of issues. When it comes to the bleak times, we've come to the conclusion that there is no point fighting, there's no point in running through cognitive distortions and dealing with those, there's very little point in mindfulness, but most of all, there is no point in fighting this. I just accept it, accept that I will do less, both at work and at home, I celebrate whatever I do achieve (yay, I got out of bed) and wait it out, and that's far far easier, if anything during that time can be called easy.

So when those hormones hit you, you just be who you are, don't beat yourself up. You're allowed to be human.
posted by b33j at 4:07 PM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

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