Good endocrinologists or GPs in the Atlanta area?

Honour writes:

I’ve been steadily gaining weight since I was 16; I’m now 25. My metabolism drastically changed just before I turned 17, when I started taking an SSRI for anxiety symptoms. The SSRI helped quell my panic, but it also made me ravenously hungry while slowing my metabolism to a crawl. Despite being my most active for the following four years, dancing and fencing regularly, I still packed on weight. I moved to a walkable city without a car, and walked or used public transport–still gained. All the while, I’ve eaten a diet of mostly vegetables and some whole grains and meats, the sort that gets labelled “healthy” by doctors and nutritionist websites.

It was suggested I get my thyroid checked a couple months back, and when I read up on hypothyroidism it was like a laundry list of my non-specific complaints. They’re all pretty general (fatigue, weight gain, irritability, low-grade depressive symptoms, dry skin, increased tendency toward migraines), so I’d never thought they might be connected. I have bad migraines that I’ve struggled to control and recently gotten a grip on (down from 4-5 a week to 1 every 7-10 days), and my doctor has been pretty genial and not commented on my size at all while we tried to fix that up.

I made an appointment with him, and he agreed that my symptoms might be indicative of a low thyroid function, so labs were drawn. We also did the usual stuff, and my pulse and BP remain in the “Awesome!” range.

My results came back with a TSH of 3.29, and a note saying I’m fine. However, because of my research before making the appointment, I knew that the lab values were incorrect; the American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists reccomend a 3 as the top cut off for the normal range–and even if he disagreed, if I’m having symptoms, it might be worth trying a medication to see if they improve. I made a follow-up appointment to discuss.

I brought the reccomendation for the lab range with me, and suggested that we should consider what the professional association who deal with this use. My doctor refused to back down, stating that the lab would have changed their values if it was important (!) and that he was not comfortable treating me at this level no matter what other doctors said. He then said those words that strike fear into all chubby people everywhere:

“Just eat less and exercise more.”

I protested that I use a calorie tracker on occasion, and that I know what I’m putting into my body. I work night shift, so finding time to exercise can be very difficult, but it would be exceptionally difficult for me to eat less–I might pass out. He told me a story about a study done in Britain that showed that all women who say they eat only X amount of calories a day are totally lying (yeah, I don’t know what that was about, either), with the implication that therefore I must be lying. He also said that all of his 25-30 year old patients complain about weight gain because “you can’t eat whatever you like any more, your metabolism is changing.” Protests that mine changed nine years ago abruptly with a medication known to cause metabolic changes didn’t seem to sink in.

I left frustrated and annoyed, still heavier than feels comfortable for my body (my most comfortable weight is somewhat lighter but not as thin as I was before all this started as a teenager), and without answers. I plan to move in a couple of months and hope to take up this question with a new doctor. Weight loss is not my goal so much as the other symptoms, though I wouldn’t mind it. Anyone know good endocrinologists or GPs in the Atlanta area?

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  1. catgirl

     /  March 26, 2010

    Wow, your story is very similar to mine. I had hypothyroid symptoms for years before it was finally diagnosed. I actually had a great PCP, but I was away at college so I rarely got to see her. In the meantime I went to all kinds of specialists to find out why I was so tired all the time. I don’t remember what my actual numbers were, but they were in the “normal” range although increasing consistently. I had all kinds of tests and every doctor just insisted there was nothing wrong with me. They all told me to exercise more, so I did. And then I would be exhausted for the rest of the day. I already walked about 2 miles a day just going from my apartment to my classes, but I started riding a stationary bike or using a treadmill, and I would have to go home and take a nap before I could even stand up long enough to take a shower. I still remember getting yet another thyroid test after a new symptom showed up (hear palpitations) and I remember the day that I got a phone call telling me I had hypothyroidism. It was actually the happiest day of my life because I could finally could treatment for it.

    Around the same time I also started taking medication for my anxiety, so even though I felt much better in some ways, I felt worse in others. One drug made me so tired that I had to walk around constantly or I would fall asleep. After about a year the side effects were just too much, so I decided to stop taking anything for the anxiety (after consulting with my doctor). I am open to taking meds again if I need to.

    I know exactly how you feel about being uncomfortable with the weight. For me, it just came on so quickly. Before I took any medication I was about 25 pounds “overweight” but very comfortable with my body. I actually went on a diet and it was extremely easy for me to get back to the weight where I felt most comfortable. As soon as I hit that weight, I also hit a plateau where I couldn’t lose anymore, so I’m convinced that this is the size my body is supposed to be, and I’m ok with that. Now I just feel like myself again.

    I don’t live anywhere near Atlanta. My only suggestion is that you see a specialist instead of a GP, and bring that data with you. It’s probably not a comforting idea, but your hypothyroidism will probably get worse and it will show up in tests eventually. Just make sure you keep getting tested, especially as new symptoms show up. You might also ask a doctor to more extensive tests than just TSH, such as T4 and T3, because sometimes hypothyroidism is caused by a problem in a different link of the hormone train. If you take BC pills, make sure to tell your doctor because than can effect some of the test results.

  2. Atlanta Center for Reproductive Medicine
    Dr. Sue Ellen Carpenter
    5909 Peachtree Dunwoody Road
    Conference Room — (1st floor)
    770- 928- 2276

    • GailTaffel

       /  March 11, 2011

      Are you a practicing MD or Do in the Atlanta, Ga area who possesses expertise in difficult-to-stabilize hypothyroidism patients? MMy current nutrional practitiner, Dr, G Khalsa thinks it’s time for me to see someon with far more expertsise than him to, perhsps, create a compund thyroid product to sytabilize my HPA -thyrpoid disconnects. I have nennup and down on dosages of NT1 for years, having TSH, T3 and T4 tests every 6 months. Recently, Dr, Khalsa gave me both, in Sept 2010 and again, in January 2011, the whole profile: TT4, TT3, reverse T3, T3uptake, free Thyroxine Index, free T3,etc antibodies- (negative), and all values were much too low, even with all these supplements he has tried on me for months at a time to help my thyroid work more efficiently. Can you help me solve my thyroid issues or if not, do you recommend someone in the Atlanta area? Thank you so much.

  3. I will disclaim that I don’t know a lot about this, and perhaps you are already familiar with everything I’m about to say. But I would try the forum at The folks there are not big fans of endocrinologists (there many anecdotes like yours… patients’ concerns ignored, the endo telling them to “just eat less,” etc.), for whatever that’s worth. There is a laundry list of related tests that they recommend in the FAQ that is probably worth looking at too.

    Obviously I would think that working with a physician is the best choice (clearly I am not a doctor myself and not recommending one thing or another), but you can purchase natural thyroid hormone online if all else fails. People on the forum mentioned above can help you and you will figure out who to ask if you poke around and post about your situation soliciting advice, doctor recommendations, etc.

    For me personally, in the past it has been absolutely like pulling teeth to get doctors to order any thyroid tests other than TSH. I am fortunate enough to currently have a lab order from my psychiatrist for TSH, T4, and T3 but from past experience I know my TSH will be “normal” in the same way yours is (and likely the T4 and T3 will be too, but people have varying ideas on where you should be within the reference range), so there is no way she will look into it any further or order additional tests for me to keep tabs on the levels over time. It is very frustrating and I am starting to consider paying for a round of tests myself if I can scrape the money together.

    Good luck. I cannot stand these completely incurious, arrogant doctors who would rather lecture patients than actually help solve their problems.

  4. Read Mary Sholom’s book on thyroid issues, and check out her website. Google it and you’ll find it. They have a list of thyroid-friendly doctors in various areas, ones that “get” the AACE guidelines and are willing to explore a trial of meds if you are symptomatic.

  5. Megan

     /  May 6, 2010

    Your story is very similar to what I’m struggling with as well!! I have an endocrinologist for PCOS, and I’ve had multiple tests for hypothyroid. At least in one test the TSH was above 3 but they think that’s “normal”. If it were normal, I wouldn’t feel so tired. I am thinking of buying my own round of tests too.

    Catgirl, BC pills can affect the thyroid tests?! That is very good to know. I will look into that.

    Every couple months I get fired up about finding out what’s wrong with me… the rest of the time I just kind of live with it and that’s no fun. I like the site and have found some other interesting things there (adrenal fatigue, etc).

    Good luck everyone!

  6. Megan

     /  May 6, 2010

    I just wanted to add another thought… based off what I read on this site and others, undiagnosed hypothyroid sufferers are not uncommon. To me, that is infuriating. Why do we have to struggle so hard to get the treatment we need? I have many of the symptoms, I have family history, and I have tests that are out of the new “normal” range… what more do I have to do?

    UGH. Today’s going to be one of those days where I re-read all the thyroid sites and get angry. 😛 Sorry for the little rant. 🙂

  7. seriouslysamantha

     /  May 10, 2010

    Same story. For now, I’ve decided to live healthily and BC free for a while, then resume the search for a doctor who listens and gets it…. you know, not the doctor who offered me diet pills when I didn’t ask for them. I’m over doctors right now.

  8. Rebecca

     /  June 2, 2010

    I don’t know any endocrinologists here, but I like my GP, Angela Prakash at Emory. Now, the phone hold message at Emory drones on about weight-loss surgery (ugh), but Dr. Prakash herself has never given me or my mother (we both see her) any grief about being fat.

  9. I found this information is very useful. Thanks for sharing. Do you mind if I republish a few sentences from this article in our blog if it’s made known you as being the source and links back to this site? Thank you!

    • vesta44

       /  December 1, 2010

      Feel free to republish parts of this post as long as you link back here.


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