Determine If Your Depression Is A Sluggish Thyroid Symptom


Hypothyroidism occurs when the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland in our neck does not manufacture enough thyroid hormone. A variety of symptoms are associated with hypothyroidism, including depression, fatigue, irritability, problems sleeping, and mental confusion.

The thyroid produces two hormones: triodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The T3 hormone affects our brain in two important ways:

  1. According to Christiane Northrup, MD, T3 functions as a neurotransmitter and influences the action of other neurotransmitters—serotonin, GABA, and norepinephrine—that are involved in mood regulation. So, if T3 is in short supply, or T3’s action is inhibited, an avalanche of neurotransmitter snafus can occur causing shifts in energy and mood.
  2. The structures in our brain’s limbic system are involved with experiencing emotions such as anger, joy, or fear, and these structures seem to require large amounts of T3 to function properly.

Depression-Hypothyroid Links

Because thyroid hormones play a significant role in our brain, hypothyroidism is considered by many scientists to be a mind-body disorder. So, it is not surprising that depression and hypothyroidism symptoms are linked in three interesting ways:

  1. The primary building block for serotonin, norepinephrine, and both thyroid hormones is the amino acid called tryptophan. This means chronic depression may diminish the body’s supply of tyrosine and T3, or that hypothyroidism may lower the body’s ability to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
  2. Similar behavior and emotional patterns seem to predispose individuals to both depression and hypothyroidism. For instance, a tendency to react to situations with learned helplessness (not believing you can stand up for yourself) can lead to both diagnoses.
  3. People with depression and thyroid symptoms often need to be treated for both issues simultaneously to get symptom relief.

Is Your Thyroid Under Active?

The first step in determining whether your thyroid is under active is to scan a list of hypothyroid symptoms:

  • Fatigue or lethargy, especially in the morning, trouble sleeping
  • Depressed mood, irritability, lack of mental focus, memory loss
  • Cracking nails, dry or itchy skin, hair loss
  • Muscle and joint pain, cold intolerance, chronic infections
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • High cholesterol, low sex drive, constipation
  • Women only: heavy or irregular menstruation, severe PMS, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, intense menopause symptoms, fertility issues

If you have three or more hypothyroid symptoms, the second step is to take your resting body temperature. If it is fewer than 97.8 degrees you should continue on to step three and have your thyroid function laboratory tested. (Body temperature is a measure of thyroid function since thyroid hormones regulate the body’s metabolism.)

You can naturally skip steps one and two and just have your blood tested. The reason the first couple steps are helpful is that some people with “suboptimal thyroid function” get lab results putting them in the normal thyroid function range. Having several hypothyroid symptoms and a low body temperature may indicate to you and your doctor that you need thyroid treatment despite normal test results.

Sources: Natural Health Advisory; Dr Northrup


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