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Archive for March, 2010

Something that inevitably comes up in every story about what I call auditory memory loops (AMLs) is the issue of sleep.

For some of us, it is just a matter of getting our heads quiet enough for a few minutes to let us fall asleep. For others, the crazy broken record shows up in our dreams too, hicupping through that same 15-second music clip for hours upon hours until we wake up in a tortured panic.

If my cortisol hypothesis has any merit, then the very act of losing sleep is, in fact, feeding the AMLs and creating a self-perpetuating cycle.

So we need to find ways to do 2 important things: (1) reduce stress, and (2) get sleep (and they are related).  Yes, I know: it’s easier said than done.

We have to reduce stress, but what exactly is stress?  Let’s define it as “circumstances or conditions that elevate cortisol levels.”

Remember that our bodies were engineered to pump out cortisol to give us a burst of energy so we could get away from that saber-toothed tiger chasing us. But that burst comes at a price. To release emergency energy reserves, cortisol burns tissues. And it’s not all that particular about which tissues it burns. Could be brain, heart, liver, kidneys, muscles, whatever. It’s a great thing if it helps you live to hunt and gather another day, but bad when the least little thing causes the same reaction.

It’s like burning your furniture if the weather’s freezing and the power’s out and your house is buried in 20 feet of snow. It’s the right thing to do under the circumstances, but not something you can afford to do on a regular basis. In our modern world there are too many little situations that our bodies react to as if they were life and death: an angry email or phone call, clogged plumbing, showing up in the same dress as someone else. Not quite the same caliber as being eaten by a tusked predator, but our bodies react the same way.

And if we keep the stress levels high enough for long enough, our adrenal glands will burn out and then we’ll feel tired all the time. (Adrenal burnout can be reversed by the way.)

So what raises cortisol levels?

  • Life situations that excite us, either negatively or positively. Happy things, like a wedding or new baby, can be just as “stressful,” in terms of releasing cortisol,  as facing an IRS audit or divorce.
  • Poor diet. If we eat nothing but junk food, too many carbs, not enough fruits and veggies, our bodies panic and release cortisol. If we skip meals or starve ourselves or purge to stay thin, our bodies release cortisol.
  • Too little or poor quality sleep. When we don’t get enough of the right kind of sleep, our bodies produce cortisol because sleep is supposed to recharge our batteries. Without proper sleep, we may have to run on backup fuel (cortisol). 
  • Too much exercise. When we exhaust all the normal stores of energy, cortisol cranks up to try and keep us going. Even with normal exercise, the push to get past “the wall” can tell our bodies that we have an emergency that needs an extra shot of energy. 
  • Illness, injury.  When our bodies are harmed or damaged, cortisol kicks in to provide extra healing energy. (Illness can also reduce or drain cortisol.) 
  • Disease. I’ve listed this separately because there are certain diseases/conditions that cause an overproduction of cortisol. In Cushing’s syndrome, for example, patients may have tumors either on the cortisol-producing adrenal glands themselves or on the pituitary gland in the brain that sends out messenger hormones that tell the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol.  

I think those are the main ones. So what can you do to reduce each kind of stress?

Excitement

  • Learn to meditate

Obviously you can’t control the negative things in your life, and don’t want to eliminate the positive stressors, but meditation may help you reduce the amount of stress your adrenal glands think they need to respond to. When you feel yourself getting wound up, stop, sit in a quiet place and let go for a few minutes.

  • Get moderate exercise

I’ve never been able to meditate, but I accomplish the same thing by walking. Not power-walking or doing errands, but just peacefully walking down a country road or park path. I find that I have to walk at least 30 minutes before the craziness of life finally starts to drain away.

  • See a hypnotherapist for relaxation techniques

You may not be able to “will” the AMLs away, and trying to will only create more stress. It’s like willing yourself not to think of a pink elephant: you focus on it even more. But a good hypnotherapist may be able to help you create a peaceful mood whenever you need it.

  • Simplify your life

If you are stressing because you have too much going on and can’t do justice to it all, then let go of some of it.

  • Make peace with the stresses you face and the things you can’t do or choose not to do

If you’re stressed about money, then consider how to reduce your financial needs. If you can’t find a fancy job in your chosen field, take a different job doing something fun, even if it pays a lot less. And if you are stressed because you can’t do everything on your plate, forgive yourself, allow yourself some freedom and pleasure, and ask those around you to help you find some peace in every day.

Sleep

Yes it’s hard to sleep with a 24-hour disco  in your head. And I know the usual advice about doing relaxing things and keeping to a routine every night isn’t the answer for this 800-pound gorilla. So how do you get to sleep, stay asleep and get restful sleep? Beats me. But here are some ideas from the rest of us:

  • Do about 30 minutes of light exercise before bed

Crazy? I thought so, till a doctor told me that getting some light exercise, like walking on a treadmill (I walk in place while watching TV), will burn off excess adrenaline (related to cortisol) that you’ve produced during the day. That way, you’re not all juiced up when you’re trying to fall asleep. Just don’t let your heart rate get over about 100.

  • Take melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime

This is the hormone your body produces while you sleep to help make repairs and balance other hormones overnight. In the past, melatonin supplements were great for about 4 hours’ sleep, but then you were awake again. Now, many manufacturers offer a 3 mg time-released product that gives you at least 6 hours. Some people take 6 mg or more, but check with your doc and work up on dosage to see how you like it. (I personally find that my melatonin sleep isn’t quite as sound as with the Zyrtec.)

  • Take over-the-counter sleep meds

But try not to take more drugs than you need. If Tylenol PM has Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Benadryl in it, then just take Benadryl (or generic diphenhydramine) by itself instead. No point ruining your liver with the Tylenol if you don’t need pain relief. Most OTC sleep meds are antihistimines like Benadryl anyway. So look at the ingredients and see if you can find a different product (allergy/sinus or sleep product) that only contains the sleep-inducing chemical /antihistimine.  

I find that Zyrtec helps me get to sleep and stay asleep the longest. But it doesn’t cause drowsiness in everyone. If it does work for you, you can find the generic cetirizine a LOT cheaper online.

  • Take a cortisol reducing herb like Relora at bedtime

For people with stress-related AMLs, Relora may just take the edge off the noise and relax you enough to fall off to sleep. (Relora may also reduce your appetite.)

  • Sleep in complete darkness

Studies have shown that our bodies can pick up even the tiniest bit of light (like the light on a power strip or TV) and that light will suppress the amount of melatonin we produce at night. For the most restorative sleep, try sleeping with a comfortable sleep mask or get the room as dark as possible.

  • Try chanting or humming just one note

When my AMLs were bothersome at bedtime, I ran a large floor fan in the bedroom to mask out little noises like the heat/AC kicking on, ice cubes dropping in the icemaker, etc. But I also discovered that I could manage the music enough to fall asleep by picking one note from the the fan’s hum and then concentrating on that note…effectively “humming” it in my mind. It’s like the chanting in certain types of meditation. If my mind had to be  sticky anyway, I could try to give it a peaceful, one note “song” to stick to.

  • Other solutions

I didn’t mention the more dramatic solutions like taking sleep-inducing prescription drugs with all their crazy side effects and dangers. I also didn’t mention hitting yourself in the head with a hammer to knock you out at night, or taking IV sedation that’s used for surgical anesthesia. They might work, but the consequences can be undesireable at best.

Diet, Health and Exercise

These are pretty obvious. Eat moderately-sized healthy meals on a regular basis. Get all the nutrients you need, either from food (ideally) or supplements. Don’t over exercise. And if you are ill or injured, give yourself extra time and babying to recuperate.

Disease

If you crave carbs, are overweight no matter what you do, and have excessive thirst, consult an endocrinologist and have him/her test your blood sugar and your cortisol levels.

BOTTOM LINE

You may be stuck with the AMLs but you don’t have to let the stress feed them and make them worse. Be good to yourself, find ways to sleep, eat properly, exercise moderately and relax every day.

And if you have any solutions that work for you, please share with the rest of us!

Happy chanting. Ommmmmmmmmmmmm…

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A lady named Dana contacted me about a month ago. Her 6-year-old son apparently suffers from the stuck music (AMLs). She does not know exactly how long he’s had this issue because he’s only recently developed the ability to express what’s going on inside his head.

Until fairly recently, he had assumed that everyone had stuck music in their heads. He has had the AMLs for some time, but is only now wanting them to go away.

For years, Dana had thought her son might have a hearing problem because he was always shouting and wanting to turn up the volume on the TV and radio. But multiple hearing tests have come up normal. As a sufferer myself, I told her that I could absolutely understand why a child sufferer might try to “turn up the volume” on the real world thinking the external noise could override or drown out the noise in his head.

Then she told me something very curious and critically important from a diagnostic standpoint: Her son is an identical twin. But his brother does NOT have the AMLs.

So I asked her if there are any obvious differences between the two boys. The key differences she noted were that the AML sufferer: (a) craves carbs, and (b) is excessively thirsty.

I knew the carb craving was an indication of insulin resistance (which could be the result of high cortisol levels).

And I knew the excessive thirst was also a symptom of something, but I needed to do some research before I said anything to Dana. It turned out that, in the TV show I recalled seeing, the patient’s thirst was the final clue to her diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome, which is a condition involving high cortisol levels.

When I told Dana (who is a nurse) what I’d discovered, she agreed that taking her boys to an endocrinologist might be a good next step. I’m hoping to hear back from her after they get the results of the boys’ labs.

If the doctor finds that the AML-suffering twin has much higher cortisol levels than the normal twin, then theoretically he can find an appropriate treatment to suppress the cortisol production. 

However, in doing some more research, I found that many of the current cortisol blocking agents are as bad as, or worse than, the problem they intend to treat. One blocks the development of all steroid hormones (which we need to survive). Another reduces cortisol by destroying parts of the adrenal glands. Not good choices, in my opinion.

In any case, I believe that if we can find a researcher willing and able to study these two boys to see what’s different about them, I think we can significantly advance the state of our knowledge about this condition.

And, ideally, we can help get one little boy back to normal. I’ll report if I hear more about this curious case.

Have a great weekend!

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My broken record (BR) or auditory memory loops (AMLs) started in my late 40s. First I noticed that I had little stuck songs more often, mainly after I played a favorite over and over. But like always they faded after a day or so.

Then one day I realized couldn’t get them out of my head. It was as if my brain was a music magnet and everything would get stuck.

Around the age of 48-49, after a year of dealing with the worst of it (couldn’t hear my own thoughts, couldn’t sleep), I went to the doctor to ask if this might be a symptom of menopause. He sarcastically said, “Either you have a thyroid problem or a brain tumor…and you don’t have a brain tumor!” But to shut me up he tested my sex hormones as well as thyroid hormones.

Turned out my thyroid hormones were normal…but the sex hormones were seriously low. So, yes, I was hormonally menopausal.

He put me on Prempro, the horse-estrogen and fake-progesterone drug that at the time was the gold standard for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This was before the big WHI study said the stuff is really bad for you. (Duh.) Curiously, this bad drug stopped the music in my head. So it was a matter of good news / bad news.

Thinking I’d discovered that it was indeed the low or imbalanced sex hormones that caused the BR/AMLs, I boldly proceeded to switch from those nasty alien hormones in Prempro to the more natural approach of using bioidentical hormones. These are hormones that are chemically identical to those nature gave us.

Well, they were good for me in most ways. But sadly, the more natural hormones didn’t stop the BR/AMLs.

Since that time, I’ve developed the cortisol hypothesis written about in previous posts. The hypothesis began when I was writing my book, What Part of Menopause Don’t You Understand?  I thought about how real/bioidentical progesterone differs from fake progesterone (Provera or MPA). The key difference is that the real/bioidentical stuff can break down into cortisol. The fake stuff can’t.

Not everybody I’ve talked to can make a connection between high stress (with high cortisol levels) and the triggering or increase of the BR/AMLs, but probably 80% can. Some seem to have first noticed the AMLs after a traumatic event or situation in their lives. For some, it seems the BR/AMLs started when they took one of those very same antidepressants that are given to try and quiet the AMLs (however, the need for those meds may have been preceeded by a traumatic or stressful situation that might have been the real cause).

But I suspect there is also another factor in addition to cortisol involved. After all, I know I faced stress many times in my life before age 50. So something else changed after 50 that made stress cause my brain to become “sticky.” Maybe there’s too much of the enzyme that converts progesterone to cortisol, or too little of the one that converts progesterone to estrogen and testosterone. Maybe there’s something new in my brain, maybe low or high neurotransmitters, or something physical like a lesion acting like a leaky faucet.  That’s what we need a researcher to figure out.

Anyway, that’s how my nightmare started.

How and when did your music magnet turn on?

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Brief Update

Since my last post on the other blog, I have been contacted by many more sufferers of the broken record (BR) syndrome or auditory memory loops (AMLs).

I promise to start posting their stories along with the latest news about my own journey with this maddening affliction.

Please bookmark this site so you can check back periodically for the latest news or just to share your experiences, thoughts and feelings.

Just remember you are not alone and we WILL finds answers and solutions for this.

With empathy,

Pat

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This is the second of my posts about songs stuck in your head from my general health and hormones blog. From now on all posts on this subject will be published here at brokenrecordsyndrome.wordpress.com. If you want to stay abreast of what others are sharing or learning, just bookmark this page.

Pat

Broken Record Syndrome Part 2

There has been a relative flurry of responses (3 within two months) to my previous post on the subject of music stuck in your head http://hormoneguru.wordpress.com/2007/10/28/songs-stuck-in-your-head-broken-record-syndrome-part-1/

A year ago I knew of only one other person with this condition. Now I know of at least 12. And 5 of them have been willing to talk with me, providing important details about their experiences and sharing their fears and their anguish.

My private correspondences have covered issues, theories and possible courses of action that may be helpful for other sufferers out there. So I’m going to summarize their content in today’s post. It may be a long one.

THE EXPERIENCE OF BROKEN RECORD (BR) SYNDROME / AUDITORY MEMORY LOOPS (AMLs)

Basically, sufferers of the AML phenomenon ”hear” (in their heads only) short (5-15-second) clips of songs and sometimes phrases over and over to a maddening degree. While most of us have had a song stuck in our heads for a brief period, in those with the AML phenomenon, the noise reaches pathological proportions. It dominates our lives and can, in fact, ruin our lives.

At one end of the spectrum, for some sufferers the internal music is like a soundtrack to life and causes little or no disruption to speak of.  For others, the loops occur sporadically, totally consuming their lives at times, and at other times being blissfully absent. 

At the extreme end are those who are tortured with constant, unrelenting, mind-scrambling sound loops 24/7 for months or even years with absolutely no relief.  I fell into this group, along with two other women I know of so far. For over a year I NEVER had even one minute of silence in my head. Not awake and not in my sleep. I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts. I literally thought I would go insane or die if I couldn’t stop the constant maddening loops in my head.

I have defined the auditory memory loop/AML phenomenon as a condition distinct and separate from the conditions that have been studied so far: musical hallucinations (in which you seem to actually hear the phantom sounds with your ears), and palinacousis (in which a real sound echoes or repeats after the initial auditory experience).

Many of the sufferers who find me have already gone down the “ear worm” path but have realized that ear worm research has only covered the most superficial ground, identifying sticky songs and discussing a mostly cultural experience. 

Many of the AML sufferers have been told by their doctors that they are imagining things, or have a psychological disorder or are depressed. Hell yes! You’d be nutty or depressed too if you had the Barney the Dinosaur song stuck in your head every minute of every day and night for a year! Yes, this seems to be truly “all in our heads” but the emotional dysfunction we experience is a symptom/result of the AMLs, not the cause.

For some, the same psychoactive drugs that calm the minds of OCD patients will calm the AML sufferer. I take a small dose of the generic antidepressant trazadone at bed time. I suspect it has also contributed to my almost complete absence of AMLs in the past year since I started taking it. But I’ve also learned to maintain just the right level of progesterone, so I’m not sure how much of an impact the trazadone has really had on the AMLs by itself. 

But one woman tried trazadone and her legs went numb.

And, for at least one AML sufferer, an antidepressant (Prozac) seems to have triggered theAMLs. He has also found others with the same experience.  So taking psychoactive drugs can be a tricky proposition with potentially more risks than benefits.

THE  CORTISOL HYPOTHESIS

Throughout my struggle for answers, I have gathered various clues that have led me to formulate the hypothesis that the adrenal stress hormone cortisol may play a prominent role in this phenomenon. For those interested in the logic, the clues are these:

  1. MY AMLs started during perimenopause, when my hormones were dropping and were completely out of balance.
  2. The AMLs stopped when my first doctor put me on synthetic hormone replacement therapy using Prempro (horse estrogen and fake progesterone).
  3. The AMLs came back a bit when I switched from synthetic hormones to bio-identical hormones (which are chemically identical to those that human bodies make).
  4. The AMLs got worse when I was stressed.
  5. The AMLs got worse when I tried to raise my progesterone dose to properly balance my estrogen.
  6. When I tried Relora to help me lose weight, the AMLs quieted down. (Relora is an over-the-counter/OTC herbal product advertised to help promote weight loss by lowering cortisol. It didn’t help my food cravings but did help the AMLs.)
  7. When I added 150mg x 2/day of the OTC supplement phosphatidyl serine to boost my declining brain function, the AMLs quieted even further. (PS is essential for cellular and neurological function. It declines as we age…and it also happens to lower cortisol.)
  8. When my progesterone is low I have virtually no AMLs.
  9. Progesterone (human and bio-identical) can break down along either of two paths: one leads toward the other sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone; the other leads toward the adrenal corticosteroids, including cortisol.

So my hypothesis is that cortisol is fully or partially responsible for the AML phenomenon (tho I currently have no hypothesis regarding the mechanism involved). My hypothesis is based primarily on four key clues:

  • Taking supplements that lower cortisol also reduced the AMLs.
  • Taking synthetic progesterone (which cannot metabolize into cortisol) stopped the AMLs.
  • Taking bioidentical progesterone (which can metabolize into cortisol) increased the AMLs.
  • Stress, which increases cortisol, increased the AMLs.

Since I had been under tremendous stress many times earlier in my life (including during my pregnancy, when progesterone increases to 300 times normal) and never had AMLs, I am at a loss to explain the AML phenomenon based exclusively on cortisol.  There must be other conditions in my body/brain now that didn’t exist when I was 35. 

Perhaps there is a depletion over time of a brain chemical that normally shuts off the repetitive firing of a memory. Perhaps whatever conditions in the brain that cause the repetitive behaviors of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are also involved here to some extent.

Perhaps the enzyme that breaks progesterone down into the sex hormones decreases with age, or the enzyme that converts progesterone into cortisol increases, so that more progesterone breaks down into cortisol. If that’s the case, then perhaps someone like me could supplement the sex-hormone enzyme or inhibit the corticosteroid enzyme to make more of my progesterone convert into estrogen and testosterone.

But if it is truly just cortisol, then everyone with Cushing’s Syndrome (super-high cortisol) would have AMLs, and I haven’t seen any reports to that effect.

So while reducing cortisol might help many of us AML sufferers, we still won’t know what other mechanisms are involved in creating the unique AML conditions until someone studies us. For now it’s enough to at least have one possible path to relief.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE MUSIC STUCK IN YOUR HEAD

Certainly you need to rule out serious medical issues first.

When I consulted my first gynecologist for this problem, wondering if it might be related to menopause and the craziness of my cycles, he told me: “You’re not in menopause. Either you have a brain tumor or a thyroid problem…and you don’t have a brain tumor!“ 

Turns out I WAS hormonally menopausal. But the fact is that it could easily have been a thyroid problem or, yes, even a brain tumor.  

If your cortisol levels are chronically high, you may have an adrenal or pituitary tumor (Cushing’s Disease), or other kind of brain tumor that needs to be treated.  The AML sufferer whose AMLs started when he took Prozac briefly may have knocked his neurotransmitters off-kilter.  So you have to go through all the right gates and rule out other issues before you start considering a simpler stress/cortisol hypothesis.

Here’s how I recommend you approach it:

  1. First ask your doctor to help you with your quest. And if one doctor won’t walk this path with you, find another. One who will play the role of detective, who will order the relevant tests, who will noodle through the logic as you accumulate new clues, and who will formulate and test new hypotheses as you gather more clues.
  2. Look for clues that might indicate a cortisol connection. Do your AMLs flare up or get worse when you’re stressed? If you’re female, do the AMLs get worse during the 2nd half of your cycle (days 14-28)?  Or did they start or get worse when you were pregnant?
  3. Ask your doctor to test your free hormones (not total), ideally: (1) estradiol, (2) progesterone, (3) testosterone, (4) DHEA, (5) thyroid (all, not just TSH), and especially (6) cortisol (4 different times during the day). And at least test your cortisol.
  4. If your AMLs come and go, I strongly recommend you have your hormones tested both during an AML episode, and when it’s gone.
  5. If your sex or thyroid hormones are out of whack, ask your doctor to correct them.
  6. And if you have Cushing’s, wait and see if its treatment will resolve the AMLs.
  7. If major health issues are ruled out or corrected, and it turns out that you simply have a lot of stress and a lot of cortisol flowing through your body, then consider trying one or both of the OTC supplements that have worked for me: Relora http://www.findsupplements.com/browseproducts/Doctors-A-Z—Relora-250-mg-Capsules-90-Each.HTML  and phosphatidyl serine http://www.vitacost.com/Source-Naturals-Phosphatidyl-Serine-150-trade  You can usually find both products in any good health food /vitamin store.

If you and your doctor are comfortable with your trying the OTC solutions, I’d recommend you start with the Relora.  It works fairly rapidly for me, with one pill providing relief within a couple of hours. If that works, it tells you that cortisol may be involved in your AMLs.

Then you can add the phosphatidyl serine, 300 mg per day (I take 150 mg with breakfast and dinner). The PS seems to have a cumulative effect but takes a while to make a difference. I no longer take Relora except if I have a bad flare-up and need immediate relief.

WHAT IF MY DOCTORS WON’T WORK WITH ME?

It is possible that your doctors may not be able or willing to go beyond the conventional diagnoses and treatments and may send you on your way without any real answers.

If that happens, you can still try the cortisol reducers. But I urge you to do so responsibly. Get your hormones tested first, preferably all of them including thyroid, but at least cortisol, 4 different times in one day.

You can get home test kits that only require saliva samples.  You basically spit into a little tube, cap it and mail it to the lab with your check. The kits come with prepaid return mailers.

There are debates raging over whether saliva tests are as valuable as blood tests. Some say they are more accurate because they measure the “free” hormones that are actually available to your tissues and organs, whereas blood tests measure total hormones, much of which is ”bound” and not available for use. Either way, they are convenient and will at least give you ballpark values to tell you whether you’re in or out of the normal range.  

Ideally, you should test estradiol, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol (times 4), DHEA and thyroid hormones, just to rule out unexpected highs, lows or imbalances  (However to measure them all can be quite expensive. This is why it would be best for your doctor to order the tests so your insurance will pay for them.)

The following are some home test kits my gynecologist uses for her patients.

ZRT Labs (www.zrtlab.com) offers a cortisol-only kit for $138. http://www.zrtlab.com/Page.aspx?nid=12&action=view&category=11

ZRT offers a couple of comprehensive kits (one set for males and one for females) http://www.zrtlab.com/Page.aspx?nid=12&action=view&category=3 , which collects blood and saliva samples and tests all the sex hormones plus thyroid for $345.  (For the blood sample, you prick your finger, like diabetic testing, and let the blood drop soak into a special pad. )

Eliminating thyroid from the test brings it down to $270 for the sex hormones and 4 cortisol collections (all saliva-only tests). http://www.zrtlab.com/Page.aspx?nid=12&action=view&category=2

I’ve also found the following affordable sex-hormone test kits. My sister has used FemaleCheck. 

FemaleCheck and MaleCheck are kits for saliva testing sex hormones and are available at a number of onliine sources. About $75-$90 — shop around for price. http://www.healthhometest.com/index.php?cPath=40

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES

There are so few of us (that I know of) who suffer from this phenomenon that few, if any, researchers are even looking at the chemical aspects of it.

If you have songs stuck in your head, please contact me at hormonebook(at)yahoo.com. I have developed a comprehensive survey designed to collect information about those of us who suffer AMLs. I would be most grateful if you’d be willing to fill it out. Or just chat with me.

Information about your experiences will provide important new clues that may one day help researchers find the cause and cure for this crazy condition.

Thanks so much!

Pat

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In this first post I will copy the first of two posts I published on my general Health and Hormones blog. I want to put all the information in one place so that anyone who finds this can see what the others are going through and may be able get hints from other sufferers.

My biggest hope is that with a home of its own, this subject will find more of us and possibly a researcher with the expertise and resources to study the phenomenon. We need answers and we need better solutions than we’re being offered.

If you find this blog, I encourage to email me and/or comment so we can begin to compile data about the experiences and any solutions that we have tried.

Please know that you are not alone and there are others of us who feel your pain and frustration.

With that said, welcome to BrokenRecordSyndrome.wordpress.com. If you want to keep up with any news, I suggest you bookmark this site so you can check back periodically. I think there’s a way to subscribe so that any updates will notify you, but I don’t know how to do that.

The following is the first of my original blogs on this subject.

Take care,

Pat

Broken Record Syndrome Part 1

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? It’s probably happened to most of us from time to time. 

Well, imagine having short (say, 15-20 seconds) snippets of songs, phrases and words stuck in your head, going around and around and around and around 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for months or years. Yikes!

That’s what I (and at least one other person on the planet) have. I call it the “broken record syndrome” (or BR), although the monster may be more properly referred to as an “auditory imagery loop.” In any case, it goes light years beyond the normal song-stuck-in-your-head experience.

My BR started when my hormones went south as I approached menopause. At its worst, I couldn’t sleep because some annoying tune or word would cycle over and over and over in my dreams until I’d wake up in a panic as if I’d been tortured. During waking hours, these noisy memories would sometimes get so “loud,” or intrusive, that I couldn’t concentrate on my own thoughts.  

For over a year I never had one single moment of peaceful quiet, never free of that maddening racket of looping sound memories in my head, not even in my sleep. If it had continued much longer, I was sure I’d lose my mind.

Once I started hormone therapy, however, the BR quieted down, though it still comes and goes. I have found that stress (physical, mental or emotional) can bring the BR on or make it worse.

I have now met one other person who experiences this same phenomenon. Unlike, my BR though, his has been present for as long as he can remember. Fortunately, his has never gotten as bad as mine once was. We have learned that there are a number of conditions that seem related but may be very different in terms of causes and potential treatments. 

Among the conditions are:

  • Musical hallucinations – in which you believe you are hearing something coming from outside your body (as if music were actually playing somewhere nearby)
  • Palinacousis – in which you first hear a real sound, then continue to hear that sound (like an echo) after the real sound has stopped
  • Auditory imagery loop / broken record syndrome – in which a memory of a sound (musical or spoken) repeats in your head

Although BR may be effectively treated with antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, I’m not eager to take on their side effects. I’d rather find the cause and treat it more directly and more naturally, if possible.

My current hypothesis is that this might be related to the stress hormone cortisol. I am now looking for other people who experience the same phenomenon. If you have this or know of anyone who does, please respond to this blog or contact me through my website, www.HormoneGuru.com.

Pat

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