Is It Depression or Hypothyroid?
Somedays you just are not feeling like yourself. You may be even feeling bit depressed. You have brain fog, difficulty focusing and you even think you are better off dead because you don’t know what’s going on. You’ve been to the doctor and they tell you it’s depression and want to prescribe anti-depressants.
Research shows a link between low thyroid or hypothyroidism and depression. It’s a condition where there is low thyroid hormone output therefore the brain and body do not get enough thyroid hormone for optimal function. There are studies that people with depression have higher rates of hypothyroidism and it’s even common in older patients with hypothyroidism.
Why is it difficult to connect hypothyroidism as the cause of the depression?
Unfortunately, most people are not tested for thyroid problems, inadequately tested or their lab tests come back normal. When their labs come back normal they are typically only testing TSH and Free T4 and fall in the very large range of normal instead of the optimal ranges.
Another challenge is that most doctors may only look at the test results and they can be deceiving because many suffer with subclinical hypothyroidism. It occurs when TSH is slightly higher but T4 and T3 are normal. They tend to have the same problem with mood and cognitive function. Both share many of the same symptoms.
Hypothyroid and depression more common in females.
Hypothyroid and subclinical hypothyroid are more common in females. Studies show that 5 to 15 percent of subclinical hypothyroid function patients develop clinical hypothyroidism.
Signs of hypothyroid:
Brain fog, difficulty concentrating or remembering things
Feel cold even in summer
Low blood pressure
Low body temperature
Low pulse rate
Loss of outer 1/3 of eyebrows
What to do and tests:
Track your morning temperature for at least 1 week and journal how close it is to 98.6 F. You may also want to check it in the midafternoon. If it’s lower along with some of the previous symptoms mentioned it’s a good indication to get your thyroid tested.
The basic thyroid test should include:
Thyroid peroxidase antibodies
(sometimes other tests may include thyroid binding inhibitory immunoglobulin)
In our office we also test:
Reverse T3 uptake
Total T4 & T3
Taking it a step forward
In our office and other functional medicine practitioners perform additional tests to confirm a low functioning thyroid. Other tests include:
Male and female hormones
Food sensitivities (often gluten, dairy, egg, soy, legumes)
Heavy metal toxicities
Organic acids to check for vitamin deficiencies
If you are having challenges and experiencing low thyroid symptoms but your blood tests are in the normal range, don’t stop there because all tests have their limitations including blood tests.
If your doctor will not order full thyroid testing as noted, give us a call and see how we can help you.
Functional thyroid pathology in the elderly
Potentializing of tricyclics and serotoninergics by thyroid hormones in resistant depressive disorders
Subclinical hypothyroidism: a modifiable risk factor for depression?
Subclinical hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. I. Prevalence and clinical relevance
Prevalence and Risk Factors of Subclinical Thyroid Disease