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Depression: A Diagnosis? Or a Clue to an Underlying Thyroid Issue

Could Depression and Anxiety be symptoms of thyroid imbalance?

I was reading an article for my pathophysiology class on thyroid imbalance and mental illness & it interested me to investigate further. Thyroid hormones have an extremely important role in the functioning of many organs, such as the brain. The brain is the most complex organ in the body. According to an article which spoke about the relationship of thyroid hormones on the brain,”Numerous multidisciplinary studies documented a high prevalence of mood disorders, particularly depression, among the patients with thyroid dysfunction”(Kamble, M. T., Nandedkar, P. D., Dharme, P. V., L., L. S., & Bhosale, P. G. 2013). I found this really interesting. Depression affects about 16 million of americans, that is about 7% of the population. Its crazy to think that depression may not exactly be a diagnosis but  a symptom of thyroid disfunction.

The article was about a woman who jumped from a pier as an act of suicide. The woman was a mother and a wife who took very good care of herself,  always exercised, and spent time with her family. The suicide was extremely unexpected and her family wanted answers.  The woman was diagnosis with anxiety disorder and depression and was put on medication for it which helped for the time being. But was it really helping her symptoms or just managing them?

Her husband had a gut feeling that the depression and anxiety was not her only problem. Come to find out the woman had hyperthyroidism that went misdiagnosed for many years causing periods of anxiety and depression. Even when diagnosed the doctors said it was nothing to worry about. Only it was and the severity caused the woman to commit suicide that very day.

So how was her over active thyroid causing anxiety and depression?

The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system & in control of producing hormones called thyroid stimulating hormones. Thyroid hormones affect the function of nearly every avenue of the body, especially the brain. Although you can not visibly see it… a hyperactive thyroid can cause a cascade of emotions  from everyday mood swings to mental illness such as anxiety and depression.

After reading this article and doing further research, I encourage any one who is experiencing minor to severe depression or anxiety to have their thyroid tested.  Its important to have the proper testing to rule out a thyroid issue because it could  potentially be misdiagnosed as a casual diagnosis of depression with a prescription for antidepressants. According to a clinical study in diagnostic research, “In the role which is played by the thyroid hormones in the pathophysiology of mental disorders, it has been suggested that small changes in the thyroid hormone levels, even within the normal range, can be related to the altered brain function in depression”(Kamble, M. T., Nandedkar, P. D., Dharme, P. V., L., L. S., & Bhosale, P. G. 2013).  Imbalances in thyroid function can specifically affect cognition, mental status, and optimal brain functioning.

Here is the article form if anyone is interested in reading.

What you don’t know might hurt you


Hage, M. P., & Azar, S. T. (2012). The Link between Thyroid Function and Depression. Journal of Thyroid Research2012, 590648.

Kamble, M. T., Nandedkar, P. D., Dharme, P. V., L., L. S., & Bhosale, P. G. (2013). Thyroid Function and Mental Disorders: An Insight into the Complex Interaction. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR7(1), 11–14.

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