Allen Lawrence, M.A., M.D., Ph.D.,
Advanced Wellness Medical
Anxiety, Depression, Testosterone, Estrogen and Fitness Training
A very common issue, when dealing with humans is anxiety (also known as stress) and depression. Many fitness trainers have asked us over the years, “How do I deal with my client’s anxiety (or depression)?” The answer is nearly always the same, that is, until we actually deal with helping the client. Listen to what they have to say, don’t get involved. Be a friend, not a therapist.
Don’t get involved!! The anxiety and/or depression your client brings along with them likely goes back many weeks or years, very commonly from their childhood. Unless you are trained to deal with anxiety or depression, you most likely will not be able to help them. On the other hand, be a friend. Let them talk about what they are anxious or depressed about, if they wish, but don’t feel obligated that you have to help them or save them for if you do, you will likely draw yourself into their problems and this generally turns out to be a one-way street, a street you go down and neither of you end up anywhere good. If you do get involved and your client can’t solve his/her conflict, then they will be disappointed and they may blame you for bringing it up, making them think and not having a solution to their problem. A lose, lose situation.
Anxiety, Depression and Unresolved Conflicts
Anxiety and depression are always caused by one or more unresolved conflicts. Anxiety (stress) is caused by acute unresolved conflicts that they are working on in the now moment and over time. Depression is merely the body’s reaction to unresolved conflicts which the individual has decided cannot or can never be resolved. Depression and stress are the same mechanism only the occurrence of stress tells us issues are still being worked on by our subconscious, while depression tells us the subconscious has given up on certain issues.
Stress/depression symptoms are intelligent communications from the individuals body to them and to their mind, letting them know they have one or more unresolved conflicts their body-mind wants them to solve. If they know or can find the conflict and can solve it, and the stress will go away. If they either don’t know what the specific conflict is, they can’t find it, don’t understand what is going on, aren’t willing to deal with any of it, recognize part of it but can’t get to the substance of the conflict(s) or can’t find a solution even when they know what their conflict is, the process will persist and chronic stress will eventually occur. If enough time passes, or if and when their body-mind really wants a solution, then over time their body will transform the changes this stress has made within their body into one or more acute illnesses. If these illnesses don’t help define or show the conflict, if their conflict or conflicts are left unresolved, then these acute illnesses can and often will eventually morph into recurrent and/or persistent illnesses, and then, eventually they will transform into one or more chronic illnesses or diseases. With acute illnesses little if any permanent cell, tissue or organ damage is created. However, once the stage of chronic illness is reached, this tells us that some, or even a great deal of, cellular, tissue or organ damage or injury has taken place. By the time any illness process reaches the state of Chronic Illness or Chronic Disease, there is already irreversible damage to cells, tissues and organs involved. Once this chronic stage is allowed to occur, it is merely a matter of time until one or more disabilities or premature death also occurs.
A second important fact all fitness trainers should be aware of is that chronic stress, especially when it to a significant degree involves any significant part of the clients daily life, will end up lowering their testosterone and/or estrogen production and leads to LowT, LowE or testosterone or estrogen insufficiency or deficiency. You may already be aware of this as I have discussed this in some of my other articles. Signs and symptoms of this are often noted as a gradual onset of fatigue, loss of strength, progressive depression, anxiety (stress), weight gain, central obesity, steadily increasing cholesterol, increased LDL-cholesterol, decreased HDL-cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a host of other indicators that the testosterone level is falling in men or that estrogen and testosterone levels are falling in women.
Whenever stress exists, you, as a fitness trainer, your work will likely be more difficult. In fact, unless you are really cool and quite professional, you may end up feeling confused, helpless, frustrated and stressed. This is where you must now (as you always have) act in the most professional manner possible (unless you are trained to deal with stress). Your job now is either to ignore what is happening and just do the best you can, or to help your client get help. Often the best you can do at this point is referring them for stress counseling, if they will go. You can also help them get their hormones balanced and under control, if their hormones are out of balance, rebalancing them is essential to helping them think clearly and solve problems. Low or deficient testosterone and low estrogen both act to muddle the mind. This is an actual fact. You can help them by referring them for testing of their hormone levels to a professional who knows what he is doing with hormone replacement and/or anxiety and/or depression treatment.
Warning, this person, should be a hormone expert. He or she should not be your family doctor nor the client’s family doctor, a GP or Internist. They may be great medical doctors, but if they know little or nothing about hormones or hormone replacement, they can do much more harm than good. The practitioner you should consider, should be experienced with hormone Replacement therapy, a Functional Medicine Specialist, someone who has a great deal of experience treating and managing fitness clients or athletes for hormone insufficiencies and deficiencies. If your client needs help with their anxiety or depression, you could help them look for a competent stress/depression therapist who actually knows what he or she is doing. If you simply continue training them and do not deal with the indications of decreasing or imbalanced hormones, depression or anxiety, then you are facilitating their ultimate chronic illness, the possibility of disability and their premature death. Yes, these may well occur long after they have left being your client. however, if at the time you work with them, they
show indications of hormone problems, your timely action can potentially save them from lots of long- term negative consequences both from their anxiety or depression, and/or from hormonal imbalances or hormonal deficiency.
Hormones Are Also Affected by Exercise
Exercise increases dopamine production in the brain and this decreases stress as well as depression. In the short run there should be no harm being done by continuing exercise. Focusing on exercise should even help the client deal with their emotions and handle their tress and/or depression better. Exercise alone, however, on its own, generally does not deal with nor resolve the client’s unresolved conflict(s), the issues that are causing their stress or depression, hence, your client will still need to help to deal with their unresolved problems and issues. This is best done by a professional who is trained for this.
If your client suffers signs or symptoms of hormonal insufficiency or deficiency, they should be referred to a competent Functional Medicine practitioner. Someone who specializes in HRT/TRT and can interpret hormone testing correctly.
For more information on Anxiety, Depression and Hormone Replacement Therapy or to set up a consultation for yourself or a client, contact Advanced Wellness Medical by calling 626.365.1084 or e-mail your questions or search for information to info@AdvancedWellnessMedical.com.