Hormonal flux, the ebb and flow of biology, lunar in its waxing and waning, affects physiology in so many respects; as it turns out, hormones also affect one's brain. This shouldn't be surprising, as our brains are responsible for hormone regulation (specifically the hypothalamus and pituitary gland). The slightest disruption, such as stress or nutritional deficiency, can throw homestatic harmony into chaos and sap serotonin.

I am used to chronic stress. It comes with the territory of trying to make ends meet in an expensive city and juggling multiple responsibilities. After white-knuckling the stressors of existence with caffeine and furious tenacity, it all came to a head with the introduction of just one additional stressor (the straw that broke the camel's back, if you will); I had been at the end of my rope to begin with, past the point of burnout, but now reached the point of the rope begining to unravel. Functionality came to a screeching hault. In a state of turmoil, I scheduled an appointment with a doctor. 

The doctor was kind, sympathetic to what I was going through, and she put things in perspective for me, normalizing the sheer amount that I was trying to take on and concluding that that would stress out most people. She also prescribed medication at a low dose. I was very resistant to taking any medication, reasoning that I would be impaired; she countered with a question, asking, "Aren't you already impaired?" Fair point. I acquiesced, consenting on a trial basis. The doctor was also able to tease out the nuance of hormonal influence after I let her know that I was especially frazzled at certain points of the month, noting that serotonin decreases in the luteal phase of a woman's cycle, thus informing the decision to prescribe intermittent luteal-phase dosing.

I started my first dose yesterday (headstrong as I am, I cut the pill in half). I have to say that even though I'm only 2 days in, I have already noticed some differences: more energy (perhaps a little too much energy, as it took me a little bit of time to wind down before bed), increased desire to engage with my family meaningfully and calmly, and less feeling like my plate is unmanageably too full. The side effects so far have been minimal (some belching, feeling a rush of heat, the sensation that my heart was beating a little faster, increased thirst, and using the bathroom more often). I will to continue to monitor how I am feeling and try to document as I go along to discuss during the future follow up appointment.

This study highlights that relationship functionality was noted to have improved most with introduction of this medication due to the decrease in anger/irritability. They surveyed research participants using the Daily Ratings of the Severity of Problems scale; domains of functional impairment included (1) reduced productivity or efficiency at work, school, home, or daily routine; (2) interference with hobbies or social activities; and (3) interference with relationships. I may begin to document with this scale to be more scientific, which may help with finetuning dosage and determine whether to continue with luteal-phase dosing or to try symptom-onset dosing.

Hoping for the best outcome.