Izabella Wentz, PharmD, FASCP, Guest
Dr. Izabella Wentz discusses the important issue of the thyroid connection to mental illness, depression and anxiety.
I wanted to take time out to write this post as I’ve been getting quite a few questions regarding the connection between Hashimoto’s and mood. Some people have asked if their depression or anxiety or irritability could be related to Hashimoto’s and my answer is: Absolutely! When the thyroid is attacked by the immune system, this results in thyroid cell breakdown. The hormone that is normally stored in the cells gets rapidly released into the blood stream causing a transient hyperthyroidism known as thyrotoxicosis or
Hashitoxicosis (yes a real word)! Irritability and anxiety are common symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Once the extra hormone gets cleared out a resulting hypothyroidism with the symptoms of apathy and depression can result. Check out my blog post titled “Symptoms of Impaired Thyroid Function” for common symptoms of both. Misdiagnosis As many thyroid symptoms are very non-specific, they are often disregarded by the medical community in the initial stages. Patients are dismissed with having depression, stress or anxiety. Thyroid patients are prescribed anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications without consideration of thyroid function.
Medical studies have shown that up to one-third of people who fail antidepressants report feeling better once started on Cytomel® (a T3, thyroid hormone).(1) Some patients have even been hospitalized and misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder or schizophrenia when in fact they were suffering from thyroid imbalances.
Additionally, people with bipolar disorder as well as depressive and anxiety disorders were found to have a higher prevalence of anti-thyroid antibodies.(1) To further complicate the issue, lithium, a medication used for bipolar disorder can trigger Hashimoto’s. (3)
High titer of TPO antibodies has been associated with distress, obsessive-compulsive symptoms and anxiety (1). This is likely as a result of increased amount of thyroid hormone being rushed into the bloodstream causing a transient hyperthyroidism, anyone who has experienced symptoms of hyperthyroidism can describe how terrible this feels. People with anxiety, depression or other mood disorder should have their thyroid function checked, especially TSH, TPO Antibodies and Thyroglobulin Antibodies and TSH receptor antibodies. People with lifelong psychiatric diagnoses have been able to recover after receiving proper thyroid care (2).