A surprising symptom of iron deficiency

Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 1 November 2016

do.anything.not.everythingIt’s amazing the number of patients that I work with that experience anxiety or list anxiety as one of the health concerns on their intake form.

Many times in conventional medicine patients are just prescribed an anti-anxiety medication eg. Ativan, or an anti-depressant like an SSRI. Unfortunately just as commonly in alternative health care, patients are also prescribed a nervine herb or supplement.

In both instances no one is investigating possible underlying causes.

It is the investigation of the underlying cause that makes my approach different. Anxiety is just a symptom, like a leaf on a tree. I want to look at the whole patient picture and find out what the big branches are. What are the underlying imbalances that are contributing to many of the symptoms the patient is experiencing?

In the case of anxiety, especially in women who going through hormonal changes like puberty, pregnancy, post-partum, and peri-menopause, I want to investigate iron deficiency.

I also look at iron deficiency differently than your conventional medical practitioner. I will recommend looking at both a CBC (complete blood count) and a ferritin level. Most conventional practitioners will only order a CBC.

I believe it’s important to check the patient’s ferritin level as well because it will show an abnormality before the CBC does.

The second thing that I do differently than a conventional practitioner is look at optimal ranges, not just abnormal ranges. In the case of ferritin, a normal reading is anything between 10 – 291. So if you are an 11, you are considered normal. This is not good enough for me, especially if the patient is experiencing symptoms. In contrast, I like to see someone’s ferritin over 25.

Now I would love to hear from you! Have you ever thought your anxiety could actually be related to iron deficiency? Have you ever had your blood work looked at through a different lens to determine if you are at an optimal level? Leave a comment below and I’ll be back next week with another edition of Doctor as Teacher Tuesday.


2 Replies to “A surprising symptom of iron deficiency”

Laurraine Bauer

How can I get this done when I have had no doctor since March?

Dr Michelle Durkin ND

You can pay to have blood work done through your naturopathic doctor. A CBC + ferritin will likely cost around $40.

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