A detailed story from Ashley from Australia, who went through long term asthma, constipation, then hypothyroidism and being on T4, adrenal stress, and diagnoses of mental illness including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and schizo-effective disorder. She has worked to get off of lithium while treating her high RT3, her adrenals, and more, and is living a much better life!
I am a 31 year old Australian woman currently living in Europe with my partner. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in Australia in 2002 and started on synthetic thyroxine only therapy. I noticed improvements in my symptoms of hypothyroidism initially but despite consistently normal TSH test results over the following 8 to 9 years, almost all of which were under 1 mU/L. I continued to suffer with numerous symptoms of hypothyroidism, all of which worsened dramatically over time, whilst on the same dose (100mcg) of various brands of synthetic thyroxine (Sigma Oroxine and Eutroxsig in Australia and GSK Eltroxin in Europe).
Between 2002 and March 2010 I went to numerous doctors and specialists complaining of my symptoms — many of which were so severe they prevented me from being able to work and all of which could be explained by hypothyroidism. In many cases my doctors ordered extensive blood tests to try to work out what was causing my symptoms. All of these tests always came back normal and none of my doctors or specialists could work out what was causing my symptoms. My TSH test always came back normal, and almost always under 1 mU/L and my free T4 test result was always near the top of the range. As a result, my symptoms were either treated individually by my doctors and specialists or brushed off as nothing to worry about, as normal reactions to daily stresses, blamed on my personality or on depression, despite the fact I insisted I did not feel depressed.
One doctor in Europe even told me I was a hypochondriac in late 2009. This was despite my TSH level going from 0.4 to 2.98 mU/L in the 2 to 3 months since switching to GSK Eltroxin. I was referred to a psychiatrist due to symptoms of increased anxiety and heart palpitations even though I was also experiencing a whole range of other physical symptoms such as muscle and joint aches and pains, muscle cramps, swelling of feet, ankles and lower legs, chronic fatigue, extreme hair loss, thinning of outer eyebrows, thickened tongue, puffy face, eye lids and lips, dry skin etc. — the list is very long — many of which I had been reporting to him with for months prior. I then decided to move back to my home country, Australia, for treatment.
In March 2010, I finally found a doctor in Australia who could HELP me. This doctor not only tested TSH and Free T4 but also Free T3 and reverse T3. My TSH, Free T4 and Free T3 levels were all normal and good in the range but it was found that my reverse T3 level was well above the normal range. This explained why I was still experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism when my TSH, Free T4 and Free T3 tests were normal — the reverse T3 was blocking the T3 receptors in my cells (causing thyroid hormone resistance) leaving the Free T4 and Free T3 pooling in my blood resulting in a low normal TSH level.
Whether you believe in the above or not — my doctor took me off synthetic thyroxine and started me on T3 only (liothyronine) therapy and I noticed immediate improvements in my mood and anxiety levels. Within three months I had seen a dramatic improvement in all of the symptoms I was experiencing when on T4 only/synthetic thyroxine only treatment — many of those symptoms had disappeared completely and I have not experienced any symptoms of hyperthyroidism as yet.
I would not say I am feeling 100% yet as being under-treated on levo-thyroxine for 8 to 9 years has likely done damage to other areas of my body such as my adrenal function (cortisol and aldosterone levels). However, I am feeling a billion times better than when I was on T4 only treatment. I now have much hope for a much better quality of life, being able to contribute to society in much more positive ways, in the future.
My Other Health Conditions:
I think it’s important to note that I suffered with constipation (often severe) throughout my whole childhood (I was even hospitalised with it as a baby) which my good thyroid doctor thinks may have contributed to my current hormonal problems. It has recently been discovered that I have ‘leaky gut syndrome’ likely as a result of the chronic constipation which probably means I also have Candida overgrowth in the gut — something I am yet to be tested for 🙁 A sugar-free diet for a few months may very well be on the cards for me in order to correct these two issues which may very well help with further correcting the remaining symptoms associated with my thyroid condition. I have heard that many people feel better and can even lower their dose of desiccated thyroid or T3 after treating their Candida issue by going sugar free for a while.
I have also suffered with asthma all my life and which I was hospitalised for as a child. Although it’s milder in adulthood, I continue to take Ventolin and Seretide to control it — both of which I have recently discovered may be affecting my cortisol levels. I have allergies such as chicken feathers (which I no longer seem to have), eggs, peanuts and tree nuts (which has gotten worse as I have gotten older and has become quite severe).
I often wonder if I was born with some sort of thyroid problem or adrenal insufficiency — perhaps due to my Mum being hypothyroid and/or having adrenal fatigue when she was pregnant with me? (Please note that these are simply speculations — I am unsure if this is possible!)
What age I started experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism and the subsequent misdiagnosis with mental illness (thanks to poor diagnostic and treatment techniques for hypothyroidism) over the next 15 years:
I think it’s also important to note that I started experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism (that which I can remember) such as hair loss, dry skin, swollen ankles and feet, constipation, anxiety, low-grade depression, muscle aches and pains, aching feet etc. when I was 15 about — in 1994. In 1997, in my first year of university I suffered with glandular fever and these symptoms of hypothyroidism worsened, in 1999 — my third year at university — I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and treated on and off for the next few years with increasing doses of Zoloft — an anti-depressant — and in 2001 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after experiencing my first (and last) episode of hypo-mania (my psychiatrist later told me that sometimes anti-depressants can ‘send people manic’ and she suspected that this is what happened to me and that I should never take anti-depressants again — now that I am aware of how some anti-depressants can affect cortisol levels and therefore thyroid function, this does not surprise me). Soon after, in 2002, I was finally diagnosed with hypothyroidism when I lost nearly all of my hair and gained 30kg — in other words — my symptoms of hypothyroidism were made WORSE by taking lithium (not caused by it). Once put on levo-thyroxine I never experienced another bipolar mood swing again but I was left with lingering symptoms of hypothyroidism that worsened over time.
A misdiagnosis with bipolar disorder was suspected by my good thyroid doctor (medically trained) at my first consultation with him and since the discovery of my high reverse T3 levels and after being successfully treated with liothyronine/T3 only treatment, my bipolar diagnosis has been scrapped by him and by another medically trained doctor.
When I returned to Australia too seek proper treatment for my thyroid condition in December 2009, I went as saw my psychiatrist of over 8 years 3 times soon after my arrival. She did not think I was mentally unstable at the time but could see that I was suffering physically and based on the fact that she could see my eyebrows were thinning and disappearing at the edges, told me she felt it was likely hypothyroidism causing my symptoms. She then ordered numerous tests, including TSH, Free T4 and Free T3 (the latter being very reluctantly) but when they all came back in the normal range, with the help of a comment written by a senior scientist as a well know laboratory in Australia, she decided it could not possibly be hypothyroidism causing my symptoms. She seemed quite puzzled by the whole thing and suspected it was another condition causing my symptoms — a condition she would not tell me about in case I ‘went home and researched it too much’ (to quote what she said to me!). I suspect it was chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia — both of which are likely caused by undiagnosed or under-treated thyroid conditions anyway.
Months went on — I found my good thyroid doctor and was finally diagnosed with hypothyroidism based on a Thyroflex test and a non-optimal free T3 level (just above mid-range). Initially, I was taken off the 100mcg of Eutroxsig that I had been taking and put on far too low a dose of natural desiccated thyroid (1.5 grains) which I stayed on for far too long (over 8 weeks). My anxiety and levels increased during this time which happened to coincide with an increase in the real problems I was having with one of my parents neighbours (which had been going on for years — both of my parents have acknowledged it was happening). Soon after that my cortisol levels were found to be ok but my reverse T3 levels were found to be too high and I was taken off natural desiccated thyroid and started on T3 only.
Unfortunately I raised the dose of T3 too high and too quickly and this resulted in symptoms of high pulse, irritability and inability to control my anger. As a result of this I chose a terrible time to stand up to my father, who had been consistently emotionally abusive for years (probably due to his own hormonal issues). When my father denied it and even blamed it on me and my Mum got very angry with me, I became very upset and angry myself. I had a high pulse from too much T3 and was unable to control the angry outbursts very well. It was suggested by a moderator of one of the online thyroid groups that I drop the T3 back a bit. I did so and within 2 days these terrible symptoms had gone away. However, without my knowledge, my Mum had already called my psychiatrist who I received a surprise call from soon after telling me over the phone to go to a local pharmacy, where she had faxed a prescription, and pick up some anti-psychotic medication and take high doses of it immediately or that I would end up in a mental hospital (she told me this without even seeing me!) then to come and see her the following day.
I was terrified! If I went to hospital against my will they would take me off the T3, just 6 weeks before my reverse T3 clearance, and then I really could end up mentally ill! So, that day, I packed my things and went to live with a very caring and generous close friend. She allowed me to stay with her until my reverse T3 clearance and until I returned to Europe to be with my partner again and for that, I am forever grateful (I am certain that being away from the stress of living at my parents place helped with my recovery from hypothyroidism).
On the way to my friend’s place, she drove me to a local pharmacy where I reluctantly picked up the anti-psychotic medication but thankfully, I decided not take it. The next day I went to see my psychiatrist with my friend (it did not occur to me that I didn’t have to go to the appointment if I didn’t want to at that time — I had been treating my psychiatrist like a god as so many ‘mentally ill’ patients do). Little did I know, my parents had already faxed a letter to my psychiatrist telling her they did not think I was mentally ill and they had cancelled the appointment, but my psychiatrist saw me anyway.
Despite my parents and my friend (who was with me at the appointment) assuring her that, apart from being understandably upset about the whole situation, they did not think I was mentally ill, my psychiatrist still diagnosed me with schizo-affective disorder based on disbelief of the problems I was having with my parents neighbour (which even my parents had acknowledged was a real problem) and with my father. She decided (and there was no changing her mind — the more I tired the more mentally ill I seemed to be in her eyes) it was all imagined and ‘in my head’. She told me to take high doses of anti-psychotic medication — that I would probably need to take them for the rest of my life — and if I did not take them then I would end up in a mental hospital (a place I had not been since being diagnosed bipolar in 2001) within a matter of weeks. My friend was disgusted by this threat and I was both terrified and utterly devastated by the whole ordeal.
My psychiatrist had diagnosed me with schizo-affective disorder despite the fact that she could see at that appointment that I was neither manic nor depressed. She told me I was stable at that point in time. She diagnosed me with schizo-affective disorder even though I had experienced marked improvements in my anxiety levels since starting on T3 only treatment for my elevated reverse T3 condition (and after experiencing those initial improvements in my anxiety and confidence levels, when I first started on T3, she suspected I was going manic because I was less anxious, more confident but ‘not present’ due to the brain fog and lack of focus and concentration I was still experiencing in the beginning stages of my T3 treatment — I was not going manic and my Mum, who was with me at that appointment, agreed with me on this).
My defence against the diagnosis with schizo-affective disorder in 2010 by my now ex-psychiatrist ( in other words — where I believe psychiatry is going wrong — they seem to be relying too much on endocrinology which DOES have it wrong for the most part):
When I told my psychiatrist about my high reverse T3 levels (or thyroid hormone resistance) and that this explained all of my symptoms, including the anxiety and lack of focus and concentration, she did not seem to know what reverse T3 was. She certainly did not deem it necessary to test her ‘mentally ill’ patients free T3 or reverse T3 levels or treat them with T3 containing medications despite the fact that medical research has proven that this can be an effective form of treatment for some kinds of mental illness, including bipolar disorder and depression.
That trail of thought could not have been helped by the views of the endocrinologist that my psychiatrist referred me to in 2002 to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism and started on levo-thyroxine (it seemed obvious to me that she has a very friendly professional relationship with him and would probably believe anything he said). Not surprisingly (being an endocrinologist) he happens to be TSH and T4 only obsessed and according to what he told me when I went to see in in 2010, after already being treated with natural desiccated thyroid, he insists that treating thyroid conditions with T3 containing medications is very dangerous and told me I may as well be taking amphetamines. I kid you not — he actually said that to me. He also blamed all of the symptoms I told him I had been experiencing on female hormones, fitting the ‘fat, hormonal and female’ mentality that so many endocrinologists adhere by so rigidly when the TSH test comes back normal, and he made it quite clear that he FIRMLY believes that reverse T3 has no function in the body and has no significance whatsoever when it comes to treating thyroid conditions (in other words — I was doomed from the start! Aaaargh!!!).
My psychiatrist did however acknowledge that many of her ‘bipolar’ patients also have thyroid conditions and that many of them do very well when taking lithium (which I have recently learned can lower cortisol and also cause the conversion of T4 to too much reverse T3) and levo-thyroxine at first and stay well on lithium and levo-thyroxine for many years only to suddenly become schizo-affective (which she decided had happened to me) requiring treatment with antipsychotic medication. I kid you not — she said that too me — perhaps not in those words but it was certainly implied. Un-believable — can she not see the connection?
Neither of my parents nor my good friend, who I was living with at the time, believed I had schizo-affective disorder (my Mum, who called my psychiatrist in the first place seemed quite stunned by it — she did not expect that to happen) and none of them thought it was a good idea for me to take the antipsychotic medication, which I did not take despite being very scared by what my psychiatrist had said to me. I spent the next few weeks trying to work out if I was actually crazy and didn’t know it with my good friend and partner always assuring me that I was not. (Then I got over that fear and went on living my life without becoming mentally ill).
The schizo-affective disorder diagnosis was scrapped within a week of it being made — the importance of learning about your condition/s and seeking a second opinion:
Anyway — that schizo-affective disorder diagnosis was 100% scrapped by my thyroid doctor within a few days of it being made (and my friend was thankfully there with me to witness him saying this — I made sure I had witnesses with me from then on) and I was told by my doctor never to see that psychiatrist again and that, in his opinion, I did not even need a psychiatrist. He told me I was the best he’d ever seen me and that I was looking much better and mentally stable at the time my psychiatrist thought I was going manic. He supported my standing up to my father. After that appointment (literally straight after, when my friend and I were in the car going home) I called my psychiatrist and cancelled my follow-up appointment (which was set for a week after my schizo-affective disorder diagnosis) and went and got my hair cut with my friend on the day I was supposed to be seeing my psychiatrist instead — very empowering!
It had never occurred to me before that I did not have to accept my psychiatrist’s opinion and that I could seek a second opinion. Realising I could seek a second opinion was very empowering (and helpful) for me, as was the realisation that I did not have to convince my psychiatrist nor any doctor, endocrinologist or specialist that it was in fact a thyroid problem causing all of my symptoms, that the TSH was giving false negative results, that levo-thyroxine was not working for me and that the treatment I had learned about would work. It had never occurred to me before that they are not gods, that they can be wrong and that I can know more than them about treating my own condition simply by using my brain and learning from both research and from others experiencing the same thing as me.
It had never occurred to me before that when my doctor does not show any signs of acknowledging what I have learned or treating my symptoms in a way that actually works, rather than waste my precious energy trying to convince them I am right and that their treatment is not working, I can simply sit there, listen to them tell me I am wrong and that what I have learned is dangerous (for example), pretend to accept their diagnosis (if applicable), get up, walk out the door, go home, never go back them and find a doctor or specialist who WILL take me seriously and help me get well (they are out there and it is like a breath of fresh air when you find one — it’s 100% worth the effort).
I haven’t seen my now ex-psychiatrist since she diagnosed me with schizo-affective disorder and 7 months later I have had my reverse T3 clearance, feel much better for it, have been able to move back to Europe to live with my partner and enjoy life again, am mentally stable without taking any antipsychotic medication (the box I had dispensed after her — in my opinion — bizarre and completely unprofessional phone call has been returned to the pharmacy untouched) and have been nowhere near being admitted to a mental hospital. I am not yet feeling 100% healthy but am much closer than getting there than I was before starting on T3 only treatment.
Since moving back to Europe I have sought a third opinion (with my holistic doctor here) and, most recently, a fourth opinion on my diagnosis with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and schizo-effective disorder. This fourth opinion was from a regular doctor/general practitioner in the town I am currently living in in Europe. I only went to see this regular doctor yesterday (in march 2011). I took with me all the letters my two holistic doctors had written to certify I was a patient of theirs, what my condition was and what medication I was taking for it, and also copies of all of my test results (there is a large clump of them) from when I was seeing my good thyroid doctor in Australia. She barely even looked at them before offering to run most of the tests I needed in order to monitor my condition (unfortunately, I have to see an endocrinologist to get the free T3 and reverse T3 blood tests run — so it is likely I will have to order these privately through my holistic doctor in Europe). I reluctantly showed her my whole file from my good thyroid doctor in Australia because she asked to see it in order to have good reason to order all of those ‘very expensive blood tests’ (understandable) because it was against protocol to order them at my request. I was reluctant to show her this as it contained my medical history, including the bipolar diagnosis in 2001 and the schizo-affective disorder diagnosis in 2010. This worried me greatly because, in the past, regular doctors have always seemed to judge me because of my diagnosis with mental illness. They have been very quick to blame most of my symptoms on mental illness (mainly because of ‘normal’ TSH test results — this is where endocrinology is to blame) and the last regular doctor I saw in Europe (in November 2009) called me a depressed hypochondriac, when I was extremely hypothyroid, and referred me to a psychiatrist! :S
As it turns out, I didn’t need to be so worried about this new regular doctor in Europe. The moment I explained that my good thyroid doctor in Australia (who will back me up on this with a letter to her) thought my symptoms of bipolar disorder were caused by my thyroid problem, that the schizo-affective disorder diagnosis was ‘crap’ (he used that word and then said ‘you don’t have it’) and that he told me to stop seeing my psychiatrist because of it, she didn’t even flinch — she just said ‘Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to be scared of this. I know that thyroid can cause symptoms of mental health problems’ and that was the end of the mental illness discussion! What a relief!
What a difference a second opinion makes. Needless to say, I am very happy with my new ‘regular’ doctor in Europe despite the fact she has had to refer me to an endocrinologist as my condition is too complex for her — she said she doesn’t know enough about it but did say that she thought the endocrinologists in a nearby city may be very interested in my story (not holding my breath but you never know with all of the T3 research happening in mainland Europe at the moment, including in my country).
I now feel a lot more comfortable talking about my past diagnosis with mental illness now that I have the support of many doctors, both in Australia and in Europe, saying that my symptoms of mental illness between 1999 and 2001 were likely caused by my thyroid condition (which is treatable) and that I was misdiagnosed with mental illness.
I have since slowly come off Lithium — successfully so far — and have experienced further improvements in my symptoms as a result (now that I have had my reverse T3 clearance and am taking T3):
Prior to returning to Australia (when I was very hypothyroid on GSK Eltroxin) I actually increased my lithium dose from 2 tablets a day (900mg) to 1350 mg a day (3 tablets) as this had always helped ease my anxiety in the past — however, this time it made it worse. After testing my lithium level (which was heading towards the top of the ‘safe’ range), my psychiatrist felt it was best to drop the dose back to 900mg which I believe helped ease my symptoms a little (I also got off GSK Eltroxin and went back on Eutroxsig — Australia’s brand of levo-thyroxine — which was the better of the bad bunch for me).
Between March 2010 and November 2010, two of my good doctors (my good thyroid doctor in Australia and my current holistic doctor in Europe) urged me to come off lithium, both telling me that I had been on far too high as dose of lithium and for far too long. They both said I did not have bipolar disorder and that I did not need to take lithium anymore.
Until very recently, I have been very scared coming off lithium because every time I have lowered the dose or tried to go off it in the past (whilst being treated for my thyroid condition with levo-thyroxine only) I have become very anxious and eventually ended up depressed again within a matter of months (I don’t know why this is but I have developed some theories from what I have learned about how lithium affects cortisol and aldosterone levels and therefore thyroid function). I never went manic again after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001 and started on levo-thyroxine for hypothyroidism in early 2002.
In June 2010, I had become so sick of taking lithium (I have always known it was doing terrible things to me — I always felt psychically sick and suffered from extreme thirst for a couple of hours after taking it) so, with my good thyroid doctor’s blessing, and because of the improvements I was already experiencing on T3 only medication, I tried to come off it. Unfortunately, I came off it far too quickly which — mixed with too high a dose of T3 at the time, pre reverse T3 clearance, and high cortisol issues likely resulting from dropping the dose of lithium too quickly — resulted in very bad symptoms (inability to control my anger, high pulse, irritability — neither manic nor depressed though). So I dropped the dose of T3 a bit (which helped eased the symptoms within 2 days) and went back on the lithium straight away (perhaps I didn’t really need to do this? I don’t know). My good thyroid doctor agreed with me on going back on the lithium temporarily and he said to wait until I had had my reverse T3 clearance and was living in a much less stressful environment — preferably when I was back at home with my partner in Europe — before I try and go off it again.
I was too scared to attempt to come off lithium again until well after my reverse T3 clearance in August/September 2010. I stayed on it for a couple of months once I returned to Europe and even considered getting more prescribed before I ran out. However, when I saw my holistic doctor for the first time in Europe — he could see how well I was (on T3, post rt3 clearance) and pushed me to try going off lithium again. This was the push I needed to begin by second attempt at going off lithium.
I started going off lithium in around October 2010 (I can’t remember the exact date) — this time I went off it extremely slowly, only dropping the dose by half a tablet (I took two 450mg tablets a day) every 2 to 3 months. I felt a little uncomfortable with each drop in dose for about two weeks or so after the drop, but this feeling eventually settled and I felt much better for lowering the dose each time. I kept dropping the dose by half a tablet, feeling good, waiting a few months then dropping it again — and I kept feeling good with each drop! I experienced no re-occurrence of anxiety or depression this time. I am guessing due to the fact I am now treating my thyroid problem properly with T3 (as opposed to levo-thyroxine only treatment) with hypothyroidism being the cause of the bipolar symptoms in the first place, most likely due to high reverse T3 levels.
When I came off the last half of my last tablet of lithium about 2 or 3 weeks ago I noticed my remaining symptoms improving even more. I don’t know why this is — perhaps my cortisol levels have come up a bit (lithium lowers cortisol), perhaps my aldosterone is working better (I have read lithium can make aldosterone inactive?! Don’t quote me on it) or perhaps the lithium was causing symptoms of its own that have lifted since coming off it.
My fears of becoming depressed or going manic again with coming off Lithium have been somewhat alleviated — evidence that hypothyroidism and high reverse T3 levels cause bipolar disorder and treatment resistant depression:
I am still very wary of becoming depressed or manic again since coming off lithium but I am quietly confident that as long as my thyroid function remains good, on T3 only treatment — I hope to be able to switch to natural desiccated thyroid one day, and with treating related issues such as low iron or low magnesium (for example), I will not experience another bipolar mood swing, or become depressed or suffer badly with long term anxiety, again.
When starting on T3 only treatment my biggest fear was going manic because of it (why? I don’t know). My good thyroid doctor in Australia thought that with the increase in my metabolism, it could result in a manic episode as a result of related fluctuations in hormones (but he also thought this was very unlikely and was not at all worried about it). It wasn’t until I recently saw this medical journal article which was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2009, my concern has settled somewhat:
”J Affect Disord. 2009 Aug;116(3):222-6. Epub 2009 Feb 11.
The use of triiodothyronine as an augmentation agent in treatment-resistant bipolar II and bipolar disorder NOS.
Kelly T, Lieberman DZ.
The Depression & Bipolar Clinic of Colorado, 315 West Oak Street, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525, USA. TamKellyNews@comcast.net
BACKGROUND: Thyroid hormone plays a role in both serotonin and catecholamine functions in the brain, and has been linked to abnormal mood states in bipolar disorder. Unlike most studies which have included only patients with bipolar I, this study evaluated triiodothyronine (T3) as an augmentation agent for treatment-resistant depression in patients with bipolar II and bipolar disorder NOS.
METHODS: This study was a retrospective chart review of patients treated in a private clinic between 2002 and 2006. The charts of 125 patients with bipolar II disorder and 34 patients with bipolar disorder NOS were reviewed.
RESULTS: Patients had been unsuccessfully treated with an average of 14 other medications before starting T3. At an average dose of 90.4 mcg (range 13 mcg-188 mcg) the medication was well tolerated. None of the patients experienced a switch into hypomania, and only 16 discontinued due to side effects. Improvement was experienced by 84%, and 33% experienced full remission.
LIMITATIONS: The limitations are those associated with the retrospective chart review design.
CONCLUSIONS: A high percentage of bipolar II and bipolar NOS patients with treatment resistant depression improved on T3. Despite the use of higher than usual doses in many of the patients, the medication was well tolerated. Augmentation with supraphysiologic doses of T3 should be considered in cases of treatment resistant bipolar depression.”
This article basically states that over 100 patients with treatment-resistant bipolar disorder did very well on what are considered very high doses of T3 (the average dose being 90.4mcg and the highest dose being 188mcg — I currently take 120mcg), that in 84% of cases their symptoms improved (when they did poorly on an average of 14 other medications prior to taking T3) and in 33% of cases they experienced FULL REMISSION. And, most importantly for me — NONE of the patients went manic when taking the T3. Some dropped out due to bad symptoms — likely due to low iron, ferritin, aldosterone, sodium, potassium or cortisol (which I have learned causes bad symptoms when taking T3 and needs to be corrected prior to starting on T3).
There are a whole host of other medical journal articles/scientific studies that I have found linking high reverse T3 levels and treatment resistant depression and symptoms of bipolar disorder, including mania. Please see the links section in the right hand column of my blog to view some of them.
As a result, I am no longer so scared of going manic on T3 only treatment — I am a little scared of getting low iron, aldosterone or cortisol though, causing the T3 to stop working so well. But, with the help of my new holistic and regular doctors in Europe (it helps to have good doctors to support you) and maybe even the endocrinologist I am being referred to by my regular doctor (not holding my breath though) — I will keep these levels closely monitored to avoid any problems there.
I may try to have my diagnosis with various mental illnesses removed from my medical record in the future:
When it is officially reported that the TSH test and free T4 test do not correlate with metabolic rate (we, as thyroid patients, already know that it does not) then I may try to have the diagnosis of anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder and schizo-affective disorder taken off my official medical record permanently as all of these conditions can be caused by hypothyroidism — an illness which was not properly ruled out as the cause of my symptoms of mental illness prior to being diagnosed with those mental illnesses.
The TSH test did not pick up my hypothyroidism when it began and T4 only treatment (such as Oroxine, Eutroxsig and GSK Eltroxin) did not work for me and left me anxious, depressed, physically extremely sick and eventually unable to work (and struggling with terrible symptoms when I did work) and function normally.
With no symptoms of hyperthyroidism, T3 only treatment improved my quality of life dramatically within a matter of months.
I am not alone in my story — many others have also experienced a major improvement in their symptoms and quality of life by introducing T3 to their thyroid treatment. The evidence that T4 only treatment leaves so many so very, very sick and that adding T3 or treating with T3 only medication works for many people without any negative side effects is far too great to ignore.
Grieving for my unnecessary loss of quality of life, slowly moving towards forgiveness and my hopes for the future diagnosis and treatment of thyroid conditions and therefore related illnesses such as mental illness:
After the initial shock and relief, I became very angry — furious in fact — in response to finding out that I have been consistently misdiagnosed, mistreated with medications that have made my thyroid and related conditions worse, fobbed off and disbelieved by my previous doctors, psychiatrist and endocrinologist over the years. I have spent a lot of time grieving for the loss of my quality of life and ability to grow a career I enjoyed etc. throughout my late teens and all of my twenties. I have spent a lot of time over the past year or so bad mouthing the way most doctors and specialists are currently treating their thyroid patients — whether they be diagnosed yet or not — today. However, ever so slowly this anger is turning into acceptance and I am learning to forgive (not to make what they have done ok or to let it happen again but to simply set myself free from the anger and upset which has been wearing me down) and turn that negative energy into positive energy to help others (for example — by writing my blog) and help prompt change in the way thyroid conditions are diagnosed, treated and managed in the future. And it will change as long as we all speak up and shout out about it!
I could not have come this far in my recovery without the help of a number of very important people in my life — all of whom deserve a big thank you from me! I just wanted to say that I am forever grateful for the love, support and patience I have received from my partner during the time I was unwell and all throughout my recovery (which still continues to this day), the extensive financial support I have received from my parents when I was so sick that I was unable to work and make money of my own and throughout my recovery, for two very close friends of mine allowing me to live with them, practically free of charge, and for providing me with some pretty hard core emotional support for months on end prior to my reverse T3 clearance when things got too stressful for me to continue living at my parent’s place.
I am also thankful for the information that Thyroid Patient Advocate Janie A. Bowthorpe has provided for me (and all of the thyroid patients around the world) at her website www.stopthethyroidmadness.com and in her book ‘Stop The Thyroid Madness (I would still remain extremely ill without it), for the extensive help and support I have received and continue to receive from my good thyroid doctors both in Australia and in Europe and from the moderators of a number of very important online thyroid support groups including, but not limited to, the Natural Thyroid Hormones, Natural Thyroid Hormones Adrenals, Reverse T3, NTH Europe and the Thyroid Patient Advocacy UK yahoo health groups. And last but not least the extensive help and support I have received and continue to receive from the members of these groups in sharing their experiences and knowledge with me. I am sincere in saying that I could not have come this far in my recovery without you so thank you so very much for everything you have done for me — I will never forget it.