Withdrawals from Stopping Bioidentical Hormone

Posted by lholiway @lholiway, Feb 24, 2022

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2021 and told to immediately stop using bioidentical hormones which I had been on for about 14 years. I stopped and did fairly well for the first 6 months (I think I was a little distracted with lumpectomy and radiation). I started anastrozole in November. Now I am having hot flashes (which are tolerable) but the mood swings, anxiety, and depression are awful. Anyone else have similiar withdrawal symptoms? Can anyone give me an idea of duration?

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Tagging fellow members @roch @trixie1313 @sheilaray @lisman1408 @marybe @batm and others on this discussion to share their experiences with mood swings, anxiety and depression.

You may also be interested in this related discussion:
– Sadness: Due to Anastrozole or Just Dealing With Breast Cancer? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/sadness-due-to-anastrozole-or-just-dealing-with-breast-cancer/

@lholiway, are your hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety and depression withdrawal symptoms from stopping bioidentical hormones, side effects of anastrozole and/or the diagnosis of breast cancer? It must be hard to know the cause. Either way, have you talked to someone about managing the mood swings, anxiety and depression?

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Hi. I didn't take bioidentical hormones, so I can't comment on that. However, I have been on anastrozole since November 2021 as well and I seem to be having similar side effects as you. I'm tolerating hot flashes ok, but the tears sure do flow at the drop of a hat. That didn't happen to me before. I didn't think my diagnosis was bothering me. It's my second breast cancer diagnosis and I really feel like I'm ok with it. But, I still wonder if I'm not as ok as I think OR if it is the drop in hormones that is causing this sadness. I still don't know for sure, but I can relate to what you are feeling. Hugs.

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Being diagnosed with cancer of any kind is certainly depressing! Plus being on hormone suppressing drugs to prevent a recurrence, sends us into the depths of despair! However… IMO it’s certainly to be expected. Most women during menopause have emotional problems including depression. When estrogen drops during menopause it’s expected that women will have mood swings, emotional ups and downs, etc. Needing to take estrogen suppressants to prevent the recurrence or breast cancer just lowers your estrogen levels even farther. Of course depression is going to rear it’s ugly head! It’s like we are in permanent menopause to the maximum! Please know that what you are feeling isn’t your ‘fault’, nor are you crazy! Regardless of what anyone says, your reaction to aromatase inhibitors is quite normal. That being said… just because it’s pretty typical, doesn’t make it any easier. Talk to your doctor. Get a referral to a mental health professional if necessary to guide you through your feelings. There also are very safe drugs you can take for depression that might help. I truly don’t like taking pills! But I’m willing to put up with them when I don’t feel like myself anymore.

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@lholiway
Sorry it's taken me so long — my daughter has been in labor! I had such horid problems with Anastrozole and switched to letrozole, and finally to exemestane. Mood swings and pain were horrific for me on the first two and not so bad on the last. You may wish to try one of the others to see how well you do. Everyone reacts diffierently. I find that walking daily helps a lot with mood and just trying to stay active as well. As far as hot flshes, just dress in layers and cottons if you can. I used to take the pills at night and since switching to the morning, it's not as bad – I find that about 8 p.m. or so I get hot but not as bad as the beginning. I also wake up hot and sweaty in the middle of the night. If I stay away from alcohol or sugary foods, there are less problems so if I wish to have a glass of wine, I know that that evening may be worse! Sendng all good wishes your way.

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Thank you for bringing this up. I’d been on bio-identical hormones and bio-identical testosterone for 20 years. After my bilateral breast cancer diagnosis in May 2021 my oncologist told me to stop taking both hormone supplements. Started Letrozole November 1. Hot flashes, mood swings – all the “fun stuff” of menopause started showing up. I had not associated this with also being in withdrawal from the bio-identicals. I put all the “blame” on Letrozole.

I wear layers so I can peel them off as required – then pile ‘em back on as the hot flash subsides. My women friends and I chuckle when I start stripping. 😉

I started working out at PT, started counseling, and leaning more on the love of family and friends. Had already been walking a lot every day.

We do what we have to do to keep any reoccurrence of cancer at bay. My follow-up visit with my oncologist is in late April. We’ll discuss what else I can do for these side-effects. Meanwhile, meditation, and journaling is also helping. Together we’ll all get through our challenges with life after breast cancer diagnosis and treatments.

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@trixie1313

@lholiway
Sorry it's taken me so long — my daughter has been in labor! I had such horid problems with Anastrozole and switched to letrozole, and finally to exemestane. Mood swings and pain were horrific for me on the first two and not so bad on the last. You may wish to try one of the others to see how well you do. Everyone reacts diffierently. I find that walking daily helps a lot with mood and just trying to stay active as well. As far as hot flshes, just dress in layers and cottons if you can. I used to take the pills at night and since switching to the morning, it's not as bad – I find that about 8 p.m. or so I get hot but not as bad as the beginning. I also wake up hot and sweaty in the middle of the night. If I stay away from alcohol or sugary foods, there are less problems so if I wish to have a glass of wine, I know that that evening may be worse! Sendng all good wishes your way.

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I hope you have a new bundle of joy to grandmother! Thank you for responding. I have realized wine is a trigger so I am trying to stay away from it. I just didn't realize the side -effects were going to be so difficult to cope with. I will survive. Just frustrating. I am still very thankful.

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@joiful

Thank you for bringing this up. I’d been on bio-identical hormones and bio-identical testosterone for 20 years. After my bilateral breast cancer diagnosis in May 2021 my oncologist told me to stop taking both hormone supplements. Started Letrozole November 1. Hot flashes, mood swings – all the “fun stuff” of menopause started showing up. I had not associated this with also being in withdrawal from the bio-identicals. I put all the “blame” on Letrozole.

I wear layers so I can peel them off as required – then pile ‘em back on as the hot flash subsides. My women friends and I chuckle when I start stripping. 😉

I started working out at PT, started counseling, and leaning more on the love of family and friends. Had already been walking a lot every day.

We do what we have to do to keep any reoccurrence of cancer at bay. My follow-up visit with my oncologist is in late April. We’ll discuss what else I can do for these side-effects. Meanwhile, meditation, and journaling is also helping. Together we’ll all get through our challenges with life after breast cancer diagnosis and treatments.

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Thank you for the encouragement. I know I should just be grateful that my cancer was so minimal and I can cope with these issues. I feel better knowing it isn't all in my head. I have got to work on focusing my energy on things that bring me joy and let the other activities go. Just can't do it all like I used to.

Good luck to you and thanks again.

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Yes, we can feel both grateful and frustrated. Grateful for the medical advances and early detection; frustrated with the side effects of treatments and the overall healing process. For me, maintaining a sense and awareness of gratitude is a major help.

Hold on. Find what’s good Self-Care for you and incorporate it. Simply knowing there are others facing the same issues is a big help. 💜

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@lholiway

I hope you have a new bundle of joy to grandmother! Thank you for responding. I have realized wine is a trigger so I am trying to stay away from it. I just didn't realize the side -effects were going to be so difficult to cope with. I will survive. Just frustrating. I am still very thankful.

Jump to this post

@lholiway
Baby and mama are doing great, thank you!
Yep — wine will do it so just know if you have a glass of wine, you could get more sweats. I've noticed that over the last year it's not quite as horrid as in the beginning. I'm trying to lose weight to cut down on the fat in my body (I need to lose about 50 pounds) as I've learned that even though I haven't had ovaries for 35 years, the oncologist informed me that fat creates estrogen. Now what the heck? It's just one thing or another. Hang in there…how you feel today is not how you'll feel in a year.

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@colleenyoung

Tagging fellow members @roch @trixie1313 @sheilaray @lisman1408 @marybe @batm and others on this discussion to share their experiences with mood swings, anxiety and depression.

You may also be interested in this related discussion:
– Sadness: Due to Anastrozole or Just Dealing With Breast Cancer? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/sadness-due-to-anastrozole-or-just-dealing-with-breast-cancer/

@lholiway, are your hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety and depression withdrawal symptoms from stopping bioidentical hormones, side effects of anastrozole and/or the diagnosis of breast cancer? It must be hard to know the cause. Either way, have you talked to someone about managing the mood swings, anxiety and depression?

Jump to this post

I have a therapist I see biweekly and it does help a lot. I am trying to cope. I feel better knowing it isnt just in my head.

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