Thyroid, Depression and Mental Health
Did you know that depression is common with hypothyroidism?
Did you now that anxiety and panic can be common with hypothyroidism and cortisol problems, especially low cortisol?
Did you know that getting a bi-polar diagnosis may instead by the hypo-and-hyper swings of Hashimoto’s disease?
i.e. it’s not all in your head!
(See Chapter 10 in the updated revised STTM book, also called STTM I for even more detail.)
Believe it or not, many mental health issues are outright due to being hypothyroid (whether from autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease, or any non-autoimmune cause of hypothyroidism), or having a cortisol problem, especially low cortisol.
No, this doesn’t take away that there can be other causes of any mental health challenges. But it’s a common scenario for undiagnosed hypothyroid patients, no matter the cause of their hypothyroidism. It’s also common for those on T4-only. And it’s especially common when there are issues with one’s adrenals, such as now having low cortisol.
For hypothyroid patients, no matter the cause, mental health issues can be directly due to having a low free T3, the active thyroid hormone. And this is also common for patients treated with Synthroid, Levoxyl, Eltoxine, Levothyroxine, Tirosint, and other T4-only medications by themselves.
Mental health issues are also strongly connected to having low cortisol, especially as proven by a saliva cortisol test. You can order and do the latter test, it’s not about falling in any range. It’s about where those cortisol results fall, as revealed here.
And this problem is not limited to depression.
Low thyroid hormones and especially low T3, and the common occurrence of sluggish, poorly functioning adrenals, can play a role in a variety of emotional and behavioral symptoms and disturbances, including…
- excessive fear
- mood swings like bi-polar
- paranoid schizophrenia
- obsessive/compulsive disorders
- any mental aberrations.
So if your physician, therapist or psychiatrist…
a) failed to check your thyroid function with the correct lab tests (free T3 and free T4, plus both thyroid antibodies)
b) failed to understand that those thyroid-related lab results are about WHERE they fall in any range, not just falling anywhere.
c) failed to correctly check your adrenal function with a 24 hour adrenal saliva test, NOT BLOOD
d) failed to understand that those saliva cortisol results are about WHERE they fall in any range, not just falling anywhere.
e) …and instead prescribed his or her favorite band-aid psychotrophic medication…then you are left with medications that can include unneeded fluoride, that can clash with your other meds, that can make your hypothyroid worse, or can leave you with classic side effects…besides the cost.
From Janie Bowthorpe: My mother is a classic example of the tragedy of poor assessment or treatment of thyroid function. After she battled clinical depression and anxiety for years while on Synthroid, she relinquished all control of her health to a doctor who gave her electric shock therapy—a treatment which only slightly lessened her chronic depression and dulled her memory and especially her intelligence for the rest of her life.
What others say…
Dr. Ridha Arem, in his book, ï¿½The Thyroid Solution: A Mind Body Program for Beating Depression and Regaining Your Emotional and Physical Healthï¿½, states:
Scientists now consider thyroid hormone one of the major players in brain chemistry disorders. And as with any brain chemical disorder, until treated correctly, thyroid hormone imbalance has serious effects on the patient’s emotions and behavior.
Thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4, as the storage hormone) and triiodothyronine (T3, as the converted and direct active hormone) not only play a part in the health of your metabolic endocrine, nervous and immune system, they in turn have an important role in the health and optimal functioning of your brain, including your cognitive function, mood, ability to concentrate, memory, attention span, and emotions. On her website, Christiane Northrup, MD states that T3 “is actually a bona fide neurotransmitter that regulates the action of serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is important for quelling anxiety.” She also states that “If you don’t have enough T3, or if its action is blocked, an entire cascade of neurotransmitter abnormalities may ensue and can lead to mood and energy changes, including depression.”
Dr. Barry Durant-Peatfield, in his book Your Thyroid and How to Keep It Healthy, states
“Brain cells have more T3 receptors than any other tissues, which means that a proper uptake of thyroid hormone is essential for the brain cells to work properly.”
He feels that up to one-half of depression is due to unrecognized hypothyroidism. And this figure could be higher when you consider the high amount of thyroid patients who are suffering from depression while on the inferior treatment of T4-only.
A must-read article by Heinrich MD and Grahm MD, titled Hypothyroidism Presented as Psychosis: Mxedema Madness Revisited (Primary Care Companion, 2003), excellently outlines the relationship between thyroid disease and psychiatric and psychologic manifestations. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15213796
Low cortisol can be an additional problem
In addition to low T3 levels causing psychiatric and psychological disorders, low cortisol levels can be an additional culprit–even when you feel you are adequately treated for your thyroid problem.
Low cortisol results in cell receptors failing to adequately receive thyroid hormones from the blood, and can explain certain emotional and behavioral symptoms even when a patient is on thyroid meds. Those emotional and behavioral symptoms include..
- the need to avoid leaving one’s house
- seeking peace and quiet no matter what
- unable to tolerate stress
- low tolerance to loud noises
- tending to rage about things
- emotional ups and downs similar to bi-polar
- obsessive compulsive tendencies
- hyper-sensitive to the comments of others
- feeling paranoid
- being argumentative/raging/overly defensive in patient groups
- suicidal ideation….and more.
What’s the solution?
If you recognize any of the mental health issues mentioned above—or even have friends or family members who have been trying to point these out to you–find a doctor who will test your free T3, plus antibodies (the latter to rule out or confirm autoimmune Hashimoto’s)…and be prepared to teach a doctor how to read lab results.
If you find your free T3 below mid-range, or if you have an autoimmune attack going on against your thyroid (which will make labs useless since you vacillate between hypo and hyper), you need to discuss the addition of Cytomel (synthetic T3) to your current T4 medication. There is a growing body of doctors and researchers who are using T3 as an adjunct to anti-depressive therapy, since improving your T3 levels can raise brain levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine to the optimal level they need to be.
Another alternative—using a working desiccated thyroid like Armour, which gives you the entire complement your own thyroid would be giving you–T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. There are numerous testimonies of patients ridding themselves of chronic depression and other emotional problems when they dosed high enough with desiccated thyroid (just as they do with synthetic T3) to put their free T3 towards the top of the range. (SEE LINK BELOW)
If you find that your free T3 is high or above range, yet you continue to have mental health issues, the missing piece in your puzzle may be your adrenals. Click here for adrenal information.
Want to order your own labwork?? You can. STTM has created the right ones just for you to discuss with your doctor. Go here to find labs to choose from.
Order your own saliva cortisol test here.
***Click here to read inspiring stories from patients whose depression and other mental health issues went away on desiccated thyroid…and in some cases, when they added cortisol due to diagnosed low-functioning adrenals.
Click here to read a growing list of articles you can read about the thyroid and mental health issues.
***Need more information on hypothyroid and mental health? Check out the updated revised STTM book with a chapter totally dedicated to mental health, depression, and more! www.laughinggrapepublishing.com