Thyroid issues and mental health issues like anxiety and depression are often perceived as separate problems affecting the body and mind. However, since the thyroid glands are part of the endocrine system, the hormones they produce have a significant effect on the mental health of a person too. In fact, the relation between thyroid functions and psychiatric disorders was recognized around 200 years ago.
One to 4% of people with mental disorders like depression is found to be suffering from severe hypothyroidism. Also, around 60% of hypothyroid patients were found to have anxiety disorders and 31 to 69% of these patients were found to suffer from depressive disorders.
Furthermore, as per statistical data analyzed by the Thyroid Foundation of Canada around 0.8 to 5% of the population of Canada has some form of thyroid issue and it is 4 to 7 times found to be among women.
As mental issues like depression and anxiety as well as thyroid issues share many common symptoms, the possibility of both of them affecting a patient gets overlooked sometimes. For the same reason, most patients visit a psychiatrist or a basic physician owing to the common symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, depression and unfocused thinking, and end up getting prescribed with antidepressants or mood stimulants. However, the root cause of the situation that is an underactive thyroid, remains untreated.
Hence it is important to understand the connection between the physical and mental conditions and seek treatment for both. Thyroid supplements like Thyrosmart may be used effectively to restore thyroid metabolism gradually, along with taking appropriately prescribed medication for severe anxiety or depression.
The connection between hormones, thyroid and mental health conditions
Hormones, as we all know, are substances that have a sign on our bodies and the routine processes going on in our bodies. They are produced by the endocrine glands, which includes the thyroid glands and they affect our growth and development, mood, reproduction and our overall metabolism.
The endocrine glands produce these hormones to regulate bodily functions at certain levels. It is when such hormones are released in incorrect amounts that conditions like an underactive thyroid occur.
When the thyroid glands do not produce enough amounts of hormones, it is called hypothyroidism. It can largely affect the metabolism of a person leaving them feeling fatigued and sluggish and it can become a major factor for depression.
When the thyroid gland produces more amounts of hormones than required, it is called hyperthyroidism owing to an overactive thyroid and it can also affect the mood and metabolism of a person.
Some of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are:
- Enlargement of the thyroid gland
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Brittle or thick nails
- Constipation or increased bowel movements
- Muscle weaknesses and tremors
- Sleeping difficulties
- Weight loss (hyperthyroidism) or weight gain (hypothyroidism)
- Dry skin and hair
- Hoarseness of voice
- Less tolerance to cold
- Frequent and heavy menstrual periods or scanty menstrual periods
Some of these symptoms like weight changes, fatigue, tiredness, irritability and sleeping difficulties are common symptoms for depression or depression as well.
Patients are hence advised to undergo blood tests as well, while seeking help for depression and anxiety, in order to confirm the possible causes for the symptoms. Blood tests can reveal either low levels of a hormone called thyroxine or high levels of TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, both of which are indicators of a thyroid malfunction.
Chronic thyroid and depression
Autoimmune Thyroiditis (AIT) is a chronic thyroid disease affecting a good share of thyroid patients. It is a condition leading to a lasting inflammation of the thyroid glands and it affects the overall body metabolism and cellular energy balance. It is associated with a number of mental symptoms including excessive tension and exhaustion.
It is a condition that affects both men and women between the ages of 30 and 50, although it affects women more often.
According to several reports, patients with AIT account for more than 40% of those diagnosed with depression and 30% of those with anxiety.
Such patients need to seek specific help for both their physical as well as mental health conditions. However, several studies have shown that for patients with both hypothyroidism and depression, thyroid replacement medications work better and more effectively than antidepressants.
Either way, the important thing to know is that both thyroid issues and anxiety (or depression) are treatable and curable. The first step though is a proper diagnosis of the conditions.