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Darktangent 11-11-2009 08:32 PM

DHEA and Depression
 
I'm a 23 y/o male with a long history of depression, but last December something changed. I had to check myself into the hospital because I felt so bad--not sad or anything else I had come to expect from the depression--this was hard to describe as it wasn't like any emotion I had ever felt before. It has come and gone every day since then, and even after 11 months I can only best describe it as something chemical that gives me a bad feeling in my chest.

In addition to this new 'bad feeling' I experience, I seem to have lost the majority of my emotions. I haven't been happy, gotten enjoyment out of anything, or even felt sad (even when thinking about sad things, like my parents dying).

I finally ditched my old Nurse Specialist who thought medication had done all it could for me, that I had to do the rest. He didn't listen to me when I told him I thought something changed. I went to a new doctor, and he had a range of tests done.

The most notable results are my Cortisol level, which was from 2.0 to 0.6 from 12 noon to 2am. Then there was my DHEA level, which was 1,441. The lab listed the optimal range as 250-450, so my level is a good 4 times higher than normal. Then there was Norepinephrine at 19.6, Dopamine at 84.2, and serotonin at 57--all significantly lower than normal. GABA was significantly higher than normal at 7.1.

He increased my medications, but things only seem to have gotten worse, so I've started my own research. The thing I've run into the most trouble researching is DHEA. I haven't come across any credible information as to the causes and effects of an abnormally high DHEA level such as mine. I came across a website that seemed to think high DHEA levels were good, but they sold DHEA supplements, so of course they would say that.

So my question is, can high levels of DHEA cause the things I've been experiencing, or is there another explanation?

Nobody seems to understand how bad I've been feeling. I've decided that I don't want to live the rest of my life like this, so once I run out of hope, I will probably kill myself. It's that bad.

AuntieLeela 11-12-2009 12:03 AM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
The blank, emotionless feeling you describe is called [I]anhedonia[/I], it's very common in chronic major depression and Bipolar.

IT IS NOT PERMANENT.

Ever have to reboot your computer after a crash? That's what anhedonia is, your brain rebooting.


As for the high DHEA level - [B]YES[/B] it might be the cause your new depressive symptoms! You need to see a really good Endocrinologist. Don't go to a quack, they make their money doing bogus testing, and after all that you'll end up right back at the starting line. (I've been down that road a few times:p) Try the nearest non-profit or teaching hospital, they usually have the best docs.

Elevated DHEA levels could mean something isn't right with the adrenal glands, like a benign tumor, cyst or adrenal hyperplasia, (because it causes elevated [I]male[/I] hormones, milder forms of AH are sometimes missed it boys - there's also an adult onset AH). http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000411.htm

Darktangent 11-12-2009 10:26 AM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
Thanks, I'll be sure to consider going back to my endocrinologist. My new doctor didn't seem to think my DHEA levels were an issue--I don't even remember him mentioning it. He even put off getting an MRI until my next appointment in 3 weeks. I think I'll just wait out the next 3 weeks and see what he has to say, and if his course of action isn't satisfying, I may go back to my endocrinologist.

I'm not quite sure the anhedonia is related to the depression. It only started last december, and became quite severe over the course of 2 or 3 days. I had hoped that it was temporary, but it's been 11 months and it only seems to be getting worse. That and the first or second night of my stay in the hospital (because of the anhedonia and the 'bad' feeling I mentioned before) I got to the point where I was crying--not from sadness but because I felt so bad. My mom said I seemed like a cocaine addict in withdrawal.

I've been searching for an explanation for this ever since, and found very little.

A benign tumor on the adrenal glands is probably more likely than adrenal hyperplasia, considering I went through puberty at a normal age. I can't imagine going through puberty at 2-3 :eek:

walflower2 11-13-2009 08:38 AM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
hey there,
I am not familiar with hormone levels enough to offer any explanation for you. I too am searching to try to find what is up with mine and what impact, if any, they are having on my body and mind. However, I wanted to just say that while you are going through hell right now, this too will pass. It is easy for me to say as I am not the one feeling your pain but I have been to that point myself. I suffer from an anxiety disorder and have been to the point where I could not stand to live if that was the way I felt. Thankfully, I am stubborn and fearful enough of death that I didn't do anything and I am so happy for that. If you are feeling this bad, don't just wait. Push the docs to listen to you and tell them that you do not feel that this is all just depression. Often docs like to say it is all in your head, and while that may play a part it isn't always the answer... good luck to you, I hope you find answers!!! and stay strong

Cindy B 11-22-2009 08:49 PM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
Please keep us informed on what happens. My daughter n law is having exact same symptoms and plus she has a new born and thinks she has ppd also. I am going to let her read this. I believe her and it seems like her family doesn't. They just blow it off. She has called many many places to try to get help cause she has no health insurance and finally a nurse at health department had a friend who works at a mental health office and got her a appointment free. She has anxiety attacks, Saddness and depression. Among other things and I feel for her because I know she is trying to get help and everytime she thinks she might she runs into a brick wall. I am worried about her and your scared that if you say wrong things or she says wrong things about how she feels sometime like not living that someone could call dcf or you never know. She a wonderful mom and she deserves to feel good and not have all these things happening to her. So if you or anyone know where she might can help please let me know. You said something about teaching hospitals are they free? thanks Cindy Brown

Leo123 11-24-2009 02:20 PM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
Hey,

Have you had your testosterone levels checked all those feeling your having are indicative of low Testosterone and if so whyat were your T levels.

It's possible your doc may have mis diagnosed with a normal T level when your results maybe far from normal for your age. (this is a very common problem)

Common mistake is that many docs show that normal T levels are from 250 - 1000 and as long as you fall anywhere in that range you are fine. Well let me tell you if you are a 23 year old male and have a 250 or even a 300 T level this is pretty bad.

A 23 year old male should be in the 700 range. And even 800 might be bette. I have 260 level and was diagnosed with normal T and fortunatley I fought the reults and got refferal to an Endo by doc who agreed that my T level was way too low.

Symptoms of Low T, include anxiety, fatigue, "DEPRESSION" is a big one, not having that good sense of well being, cardio vascular issues, and low libido just to name a few.

How is your sex drive by the way, do you have what you would call a healthy sexual appetitie, do you still get morning erections, etcc?

Darktangent 12-02-2009 08:50 PM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
Yes, my testosterone levels were checked as well. It was 79.8, with a reference range of 60.0-125.0, HRT 200.0 - >1000.0, whatever that is. He said it's normal, a little toward the low end, but still normal. My sex drive is still pretty good, I usually 'satisfy' it once a day or every other day.

My main concern is the DHEA level. I had an appointment with him today and asked him about it, and he said high levels of DHEA can cause anger/irritability. That would certainly fit with what I've been feeling. The only drawback is that if we lowered my DHEA level, it would most likely lower my testosterone level as well, and in my doctor's words, 'chemically castrate' me. I told him I could live with being castrated, but not the way I'm feeling now. He made it sound like that would be a last resort.

He's having me wait two weeks then take the tests again, so the medication increase will have had a full 8 weeks to take effect. Then he'll probably just increase the medication again, although he mentioned doing something about my low cortisol levels too. He said that when we fix the neurotransmitter levels, the cortisol and DHEA should correct themselves.

For now, he prescribed Vitamin B12 shots, as we just noticed my levels were pretty low. It was 395 with a reference range of 200-1100 PG/ML, so it didn't show up as low, but he said normal levels were around 1000, with below 400 requiring shots.

I'm hoping that the B12 will provide at least some relief, but I'm frustrated and tired of all this sitting around and waiting. He says he has to watch out for my safety, but I think giving me the wrong medication/treatment couldn't be worse than wanting to die all the time.

Darktangent 12-02-2009 08:58 PM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
[QUOTE=Cindy B;4129773]Please keep us informed on what happens. My daughter n law is having exact same symptoms and plus she has a new born and thinks she has ppd also. I am going to let her read this. I believe her and it seems like her family doesn't. They just blow it off. She has called many many places to try to get help cause she has no health insurance and finally a nurse at health department had a friend who works at a mental health office and got her a appointment free. She has anxiety attacks, Saddness and depression. Among other things and I feel for her because I know she is trying to get help and everytime she thinks she might she runs into a brick wall. I am worried about her and your scared that if you say wrong things or she says wrong things about how she feels sometime like not living that someone could call dcf or you never know. She a wonderful mom and she deserves to feel good and not have all these things happening to her. So if you or anyone know where she might can help please let me know. You said something about teaching hospitals are they free? thanks Cindy Brown[/QUOTE]

Ask your doctor to look up NeuroScience Inc. They have a kit for collecting urine and saliva over the course of a day. You just mail the kit to their lab, and they mail back the results. Their tests are pretty comprehensive, covering neurotransmitters, adrenal hormones, and sex hormones. If she doesn't have insurance, then it might be too costly (about $400 I think), but if you can get her on your insurance policy (if she's under 24 and in school, or if not in school you can try a COBRA policy like the one I'm on), then it should only cost around $60. I think not knowing your NT and hormone levels is probably more costly than paying the $400.

Leo123 12-03-2009 10:15 AM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
DarkTangent,

Not sure what your Total T count was but if your saying it was 79.8 that is very low and alot of docrtors fortunatley misdiagnos that as being normal or low end normal when that it is not so. I think you maybe mistaking that number for another number because if your T levels were that low you would be experiencing severe symptoms. (Maybe your already are not sure what your original post said, I'll go chekc it out)

Not sure how old you are but if you 30 years old for example a good healthy normal T count should be in the 700 range. (I was at 268 and the doctor tried to tell me that I'm normal as well) As soon as I started T therapy (androgel) and got my T levels in the 700 range most of my anxieties went away, less fatigue, way better sex drive, stronger, felt better, etc..

Darktangent 12-05-2009 12:39 PM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
[QUOTE=Leo123;4136195]DarkTangent,

Not sure what your Total T count was but if your saying it was 79.8 that is very low and alot of docrtors fortunatley misdiagnos that as being normal or low end normal when that it is not so. I think you maybe mistaking that number for another number because if your T levels were that low you would be experiencing severe symptoms. (Maybe your already are not sure what your original post said, I'll go chekc it out)

Not sure how old you are but if you 30 years old for example a good healthy normal T count should be in the 700 range. (I was at 268 and the doctor tried to tell me that I'm normal as well) As soon as I started T therapy (androgel) and got my T levels in the 700 range most of my anxieties went away, less fatigue, way better sex drive, stronger, felt better, etc..[/QUOTE]

Well, I'm not mistaken on the level--I have the results infront of me. From what I understand though, different labs use different measurements, kind of like the metric system and American system (foot, inch, etc.). The reference range for males was listed as 60.0-125.0, so I'm within the normal range, albeit on the low side, according to my doctor.

I found that the results were in pg/mL, so I was half right. The range you are using is in ng/dL, so when you convert mine to that (multiply by 10), you get 798, which is certainly normal. Considering my healthy sexual appetite, and the fact that my testicles haven't shriveled up, I'd have to say that conclusion is correct.

Darktangent 12-22-2009 10:29 PM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
Sent in another set of test samples a few days ago. Hopefully I'll have the results in a week or so.

Darktangent 01-23-2010 02:39 PM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
I saw my doctor a couple days ago to go over the results of the latest tests. Raising the dosages of my medications didn't seem to do much--in fact my epinephrine and norepinephrine(adrenaline/noradrenaline) levels were even lower than before. My DHEA level had gone down to 650 or so, so it's unlikely that it has been causing my symptoms. My cortisol, dopamine, and serotonin levels were slightly higher but still not in the normal range, and I'm already at the maximum dosage.

My doctor added an additional diagnosis of depression due to adrenal fatigue. He had a few more blood tests done, including cortisol and ACTH levels. He also ordered a CT scan of my abdomen (probably to check my adrenal glands) and an MRI of my head (probably to check my hypothalamus/pituitary).

He's having me try a few NeuroScience supplements, adrecor and travacor I think, and one other. He said that the problem is that I don't produce enough brain chemicals to begin with, and that antidepressants won't work. I'm not sure I agree with this, since most antidepressants block the reuptake of brain chemicals, thereby increasing their levels. Either way, they don't appear to work for me.

I've found that adrenal fatigue isn't a very widely accepted diagnosis. Adrenal insufficiency is an accepted condition similar to adrenal fatigue, which is treated usually by administering hydrocortisone. My doctor didn't seem to want to do that for some reason, making it sound like it was dangerous, though I can't see why. Hopefully the blood tests I took yesterday will convince him otherwise.
[SIZE="4"]
BOTTOM LINE: DON'T LET YOUR DOCTOR TREAT YOU WITH ANTIDEPRESSANTS WITHOUT TESTING FOR OTHER CAUSES OF DEPRESSION.[/SIZE] When I went into the hospital a little over a year ago, the doctors did absolutely no testing whatsoever. I had been branded mentally ill, so they locked me in the psych ward to suffer. When I went back to my old doctor, the only testing he did was some sort of psychological survey that told me what I already knew: That I was depressed. Never once did they test my hormone levels, neurotransmitter levels, or adrenal function to find out why. Once again they assumed it was psychological and not physical, and treated me with Electroconvulsive therapy, which caused memory loss and impaired cognition that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Not to mention I spent 8 months of my life suffering when we could have been making progress towards finding a treatment.

Leo123 01-25-2010 09:39 AM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
I couldn't agree more. But apparently alot of people here don't get that or don;t beleive what you just stated.

And you can't really blame them if they go their docs and tell the doc they are depressed, most docs just pull script pad out and either write them a script for anti-depressants or refer them to a psyciatrist who will write them a script for anti-depressants and maybe some xanax to top it off.

Now I'm not saying that anyone on those kinda of meds shouldn't be on them, but I am saying that most people on those meds probably did not get all the "PROPER" hormone levels, and other such test, tested for by their doc to make sure there depression/anxiety is not caused by something such as a hormone problem or maybe a vitamin diffeciancy, something that might be easily treated and the "magic" problem solved and no more xanax and anti-depressants, etc..

The problem is once you start on a regimen of meds like the anti-depressant family you usually don't come of them and require them for life to stay ok.

Again for some people that maybe the necessary treatment.

But I would equate perscribing someone anti-depressant and other benzo's (like xanax) without giving a real thorough physical health examination to giving someone Oxycontin for pain in there back, without so much as an X-ray, C-t scan, mri, etc.. (And beleive me I understant the world of opiates for pain, and sometimes it is a necessary evil to treat someone with narcotics for their pain, but that is after all other options are exhausted and we are just dealing with pain management)

Anyways I hope this comes across to any person who is new to experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms do yourself a favor get a thorough physical examanation "MAKE SURE TO TELL THE DOCTOR" to have your hormones checked and other tests of things that can be causing your depression. "AGAIN YOU HAVE TO SPECIFICALLY ASK FOR THESE BLOOD TEST, THESE ARE NOT PART OF THE STANDARD BLOOD TEST YOU GET WHEN GOING IN FOR YOUR ANNUAL PHYSICAL"

DON"T ASSUME THE DOCTOR HAS DONE OR CHECKED FOR ANYTHING IF HE TELLS YOU THAT YOU ARE FINE AND YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS UP, BE PRO-ACTIVE IN YOUR TREATMENT (ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS, DO RESEARCH ON WEB-SITES SUCH AS THIS), THANKFULLY EVERYTIME THE DOCTOR WAS ABOUT TO PUT ME ON ANTI-DEPRESSANT I KNEW TO TELL HIM, TO GIVE MY HORMONE LEVELS A LOOK AND SURE ENOUGH MY TESTOSTERONE LEVELS WERE WAY LOW, NOW THAT I HAVE RECEIVED T THERAPY I FEEL WAY BETTER MENTALLY AND OVER-ALL SENSE OF WELL BEING.

I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH FROM THIS WEB-SITE THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HAS EDUCATED ME ON MANY OF THINGS I HAVE MENTIONED IN THIS POST.

GOD BLESS

GOOD LUCK.

Darktangent 01-26-2010 04:26 PM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
I said it before but I'll put it out here again:

NeuroScience has a great kit for testing your brain chemicals at home. The tests cover a wide range of things, not just brain chemicals. It will give you your testosterone level, which according to my doctor, is the culprit for depression 2/3 of the time.

A few things I've learned from my experience with the medical community:

[SIZE="4"]ASK QUESTIONS.[/SIZE]
If you don't understand something, just ask the doctor to explain it to you, or look it up yourself. It's important to understand your diagnosis and treatment.
[SIZE="4"]
DOCTORS AREN'T PERFECT.[/SIZE]
They're human, just like the rest of us. They make mistakes. In fact, patients are misdiagnosed around 75% of the time, resulting in 44,000-98,000 deaths each year. Make sure you ask your doctor if he has ruled out all other possibilities before he treats you for a condition. Do your own research. I found many other conditions that can cause depression, most of which I was never tested for.

[SIZE="4"]GET A SECOND OPINION.[/SIZE]
If you don't agree with your doctor's diagnosis, get a second opinion. Many people are afraid to do this, though I'm not sure why. It's your life--you have a right to get a second opinion. If your doctor won't consider other possibilities, then go somewhere else. My doctor refused to treat me. He said medication had done all it could for me--that I needed therapy, but because of the tests my new doctor performed, we know better.
[SIZE="4"]
BE AWARE OF SIDE EFFECTS.[/SIZE]
Doctors are required to inform you of the risks of any treatment they prescribe, though this is rarely the case. It is important to be aware of the risks of any medication you take, so that you can decide whether the costs outweigh the benefit.

I hope my bad experiences will help someone.

Darktangent 03-13-2010 08:10 PM

Re: DHEA and Depression
 
Got an MRI and cat-scan about two weeks ago. MRI was normal, haven't heard anything on the cat-scan yet.

Got some confusing test results. ACTH was 31 pg/mL, plasma epinephrine 39 pg/mL, norepinephrine 1086 pg/mL. These are all well within the reference ranges, which is strange, because the first two rounds of tests from the NeuroScience company showed low levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine. (This latest round of tests was done at Compunet, the local laboratory). I was hoping these latest test results would show low or high ACTH. I hope that getting normal results doesn't throw a wrench into this whole process and send me back to square 1. Maybe NeuroScience is reporting false results in order to sell their products?

For Dopamine it said see note, which said 'Results are below reportable range for this analyte, which is 10 pG/mL'. The reference range for dopamine, however, was less than 10 pg/mL (supine). This doesn't make any sense--why would they add a note if the results were normal (within reference range). Is pG/mL different than pg/mL, or is that just a typo?


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