When she put on a few pounds, Annelyse thought nothing of it. When she put-on a few more pounds, Annelyse stopped drinking sugared sodas, and her weight hit a plateau…for a few days. Then a few more pounds attached around her waistline. Barely squeezing into her jeans with the burden of her extra pounds, Annelyse decided to cut down on her carbohydrates, and she started walking every day. Once again, her weight hit a plateau, and her leg muscles grew a little stronger…for a few days. Annelyse cut-out carbohydrates altogether, and she increased her walks, going further and further every day, increasing the pace as she increased her distance. Once again, she stopped the weight gain, but she lost none of the weight she had added before.

Eating a perfectly healthy diet, almost all proteins and dairy products, and walking as much as five miles every morning, pushing the pace almost to a trot, Annelyse began feeling constantly tired, and her whole body ached. Growing more and more discouraged, Annelyse struggled through her meals, her workouts, her day-to-day chores, and her work; but all day every day she felt as though she was swimming through molasses—no speed, no energy, no real motivation, and no drive.

Finally, discouraged to the point of feeling overwhelmed, Annelyse visited her doctor, complaining most about the constant aches throughout her body. Her physician diagnosed her with fibromyalgia, the designer disease of the month, prescribing medication for pain and depression. Although her aches disappeared and her mood improved, Annelyse’s weight gain increased. Very reluctantly stepping on the scale, Annelyse discovered she had gained nearly thirty pounds. Doing the math, she realized she was technically obese: her body mass index had crept-up to 29, well beyond normal and immeasurably beyond her ideal.

More discouraged than ever, Annelyse visited the doctor’s office once again, this time seeing the nurse practitioner, who asked what seemed an irrelevant question: “Are you losing a lot of hair?” the nurse practitioner wanted to know. Annelyse confessed, very reluctantly, that, yes, she was losing more hair than she wanted to admit.

“Hypothyroidism,” the nurse practitioner instantly diagnosed. A simple office procedure confirmed the nurse practitioner’s assessment; and Annelyse’s CNP prescribed a generic thyroid hormone replacement. Within a week, Annelyse’s symptoms began to abate. Her old energy returned, the aches permanently disappeared, and the pounds began to melt away. Within six weeks, Annelyse had shed nearly ten pounds, and she felt more like her own natural self than she had felt in years.

Annelyse’s story provides a textbook example of hypothyroidism, its symptoms and its complications. Lethargy and inexplicable weight gain are its most prominent symptoms, but the disease itself often goes undiagnosed and untreated, because physicians treat the symptoms instead of looking for the cause. Especially because hypothyroidism affects nearly seven times more women than men, male physicians neglect to consider it as they run tests and write prescriptions.

“When women in their late thirties and older suffer chronic fatigue, muscle aches, and mild depression, they immediately should suspect their thyroid glands,” asserts Aracelli O’Neill, the practitioner who treated Annelyse. “A simple test and an equally simple prescription will solve the problem in more than 95% of cases,” O’Neill says.