T Nation

My Life Is Destroyed. Can I Get Back?


#1

Greetings,

I am in the infortunate situation in which the symptoms of chronic lack of energy, anxiety, memory and concentration issues, and most importantly sheer inability to get things done, despite attempting to plan them, or to subdivide tasks into smaller ones. Also, loss of motivation and interest in things, even though I’m not depressed. Also, terrible sleep quality.

I’m 24 years old now. The problem started GRADUALLY about 2 years ago. A couple of years into a software engineering job I quite enjoyed, some internal restructurings have made corporate politics+bullshit start to get on my nerves, which gradually lead to burnout. In retrospect, I attribute this change to my hormonal structure rather than external circumstances. In any case, I was putting a lot of stress on myself.

Roughly at the same time, I started taking finasteride for hair loss. I used to be on the skinnier side, but with a lot of muscle on the lower body (I would constantly/every weekend do ~100 mile MTB rides with lots of climbing, it used to be a big passion of mine). I had a flat abdomen with clearly visible abs. In a matter of weeks after starting taking finasteride, I started to notice that a biggish flab of fat was growing on my belly (a spare tire), and also that my breast have gotten noticeably bigger. No change to either my diet or lifestyle occurred in the meantime. I quickly stopped taking the pill.

At the time, I had now for quite some time been sleeping more than 9-10 hours a day and still felt tired all the time. I would often nap during lunch breaks.

In about a year of gradually lower performance, i became aware that I was burning out (by the looks of things), and decided that perhaps I should switch jobs (i was constantly getting offers). After a few more months, the time I started experiencing said cognitive problems, that were seriously affecting my work. After a few days at the new place (during the interview they said i was their best candidate they ever interviewed), I was experiencing extreme anxiety for some reason, I simply couldn’t sit in the chair. I quit that job too. I decided that maybe I was so stressed out in the recent past, that maybe I need a few months off, (after reading everything I could find about burnout). I also have previously had several business ideas that I was thinking I should work on.

And now, add 7 months to the mix, and things haven’t really improved much. They did improve a bit, but not enough to give me hope. I could summarize these months as an ongoing cycle: I had a precise plan on what I would no next (a hierarchical list of goals), I would start working on the highest priority item, but for some reason I just couldn’t progress, it took me days to do things that previously had taken me hours. I would track my progress, and simply despair at the state I was in.

As for the improvements, a lot of the aversions I developed in that burning out period have gone, I rediscovered a joy for hacking. The mental performance in things like competitive programming stills seems to be there, even though I struggle a lot more. But in larger projects, I just don’t have the mental energy to carry them through.

And recently, about 1-2 months ago, I relearnt to finally relax, and accept the state I find myself in. That did cause a vast improvement in my well-being for a couple of weeks. Then it normalized itself.

As you imagine, as this problem unfolded I’ve been to a lot of doctors. Initially I was fairly sure my problems were sleep-related and suspected I has sleep apneea. Also allergy-related. My conventional blood test was fine overall. Ultimately I was disappointed with the quality of the medical system, and it was simply to slow to wait weeks for appointments, only to find that it didn’t help the problem at all. I also suspected hormonal issues, but the family doctor said that testosterone doesn’t affect energy, and my TSH was within range blah blah blah. I was happy with getting that sleep study, which I was fairly sure would solve that issue.

Now after these 6-7 months, I finally got myself to do a blood test again:

  • SGHB: 36.9 nmol/L
  • LH: 3.71 mUI/ml
  • Testosterone serum: 287 ng/dl
  • Estradiol: 40.3pg/mL
  • Free test: in progress.

#2

I was put on Avodart about 7 years ago for some prostrate issues I had at the time. I was f’ing miserable with pain so I was willing to take anything to help my prostate.

That stuff was AWFUL. Essentially sucked all of what makes me a man, feeling wise, and destroyed it. I lasted a month on it. The half life is 5 weeks. So it took quite a while for things to return to normal for me.

You’ll get back your mojo and your life is NOT destroyed. Work the problem. It will iron out. I assure you.

Get your thyroid tested. Free T3. Free T4 and reverse T3. TSH means squat. You need TRT. That and your thyroid will change your life.


#3

Your testosterone levels are in the range you see 90 year old men, you are estrogen dominant and while SHBG isn’t high, it makes you low T state worse since it binds up 98% of what little testosterone you have.

Low T causes sleep problems and constantly waking at 4 am or no reason. In ranges doesn’t mean good or optimal, it may not be normal for you. This a shell game insurance companies use to keep their cuffers full denying claims for treatment. The saying you’re in the normal range almost sounds rehearsed or read from a placard, really it means I’m sorry but your insurance doesn’t cover treatment unless you fall below references ranges. Who doesn’t want to be high normal vs low normal?

The sickcare model doesn’t optimize health, they treat disease. There’s no money in optimizing health, once disease strikes the sick care model (big pharma) has it’s hooks in you for life like some sort of drug addict who now relies on drugs to live a healthy life. This is profitable, preventing disease isn’t. They want your children and your childrens, childrens on drugs for life.

This wet dream is actually a reality, very sad. Finasteride is poison, it causes hormone dysfunction and can permanently damages AR androgen receptors that even hormone therapy can’t always fix. Definitely get a full thyroid panel.


#4

Thank you for your replies. I felt a bit of relief when the test results came back a couple of days ago, because it finally pinpoints the issues I’ve been having. But still there are a lot of unknowns wrt the actual cause of these low levels.

I’ve been reading a lot these last few days, especially this was very useful: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-pdf/103/5/1715/24795187/jc.2018-00229.pdf.

My main plan right now is to first make an all-out effort at maximizing testosterone naturally. The usual recommendations I’ve seen are roughly:

  • zinc, Mg, vit. D supplementation
  • diet strong in cholesterol (eggs, etc)
  • ridiculously low body fat, to minimize aromatase in adipose tissue
  • great sleep, limit stress.

Wrt finasteride, I think I took about 2 months in total, i was diving 5mg proscar pills into eights or so. After the fact it probably ranks among the top 3 worst decisions I’ve made in my lifetime, but again, after reading a number of scientific papers, the conclusion I drew was that

  • an extremely low number of people experience side-effects (less than 1%)
  • most side effects are minor, for people not too bothered by temporarily decreased libido, watery semen etc.
  • the extremely small percent of people claiming permanent damage (PFS), seemed more like hypocondriacs …

I was well aware of the underlying mechanism of inhibiting the 5-alpha-reductase conversion of testosterone into DHT, also that DHT is the most potent male androgen.
Where were my assumptions wrong? I now know that 100% percent of the patients experience the said “side-effects”.

I’ve still got a lot of things I’m curious about, that I don’t have enough data/evidence for. For instance, I’m still not sure if my issues are purely psychological. I’ve been to a psychiatrist before, and only took an SSRI for a very short period. OTOH, I’ve started meditating about a year ago, and despite not having established a habit of meditation, the thought patterns resulting from that have a long-lasting posititive effect.

I’m also not sure if maybe I’m just too self-conscious about my health, and I should just get on with it.


#5

Your issues are not psychological, your testosterone levels are trash. Systemlord is right, I doubt even 90 year old men (in good health) come in that low. Post Finasteride syndrome is very real and it can be an absolute wreck to the quality of life to the individual who has acquired it. If you have an enlarged prostate then sure, maybe take Finasteride (it’s better than cancer) but the fact that it’s still prescribed for issues like male pattern baldness slightly irritates me as I believe this practice can do more harm than good.

Other labs that would be interesting to see are

Prolactin
FSH
full thyroid panel
Ferratin/iron studies
Liver and kidney function
serum DHT
Cortisol