Is your depression caused by your thyroid?
“It’s me,” you thought as you drag your unmotivated self out of your bed. “Why can’t I just buck up and do things,” you wondered for the 10 millionth time this month. “Maybe it’s easier if everything ends now,” you mutter to yourself as you called in sick for the 3rd time this week.
We often turn the blame inwards when depressive symptoms start emerging. We blame ourselves for not being mentally strong enough. It has to be us, right? Why don’t other people feel this way then?
Depression often makes you feel like you’re the root of every problem you’ve ever faced. You’re the reason why your life is crap or why you can’t seem to do anything about it. Because it’s you, nothing anyone else says or does can make it go away. Because of this, it perpetuates a cycle of self-blame and loneliness.
But what if your depression isn’t about how strong or weak you are? What if it’s physical, and something in your body is causing you to feel the sinking void that is taking over you?
Thyroid Disorders and Depression
Although the exact cause is still unknown, researchers have established a link between thyroid disorders and depression. Patients with thyroid disorders are more likely to develop depressive symptoms. Conversely, if you exhibit depressive symptoms, you are likely to have thyroid abnormalities as well.
Thyroid disease is a fairly common disorder among Americans. About 20 million Americans have some sort of thyroid disease. Up to 60% of these people aren’t diagnosed or are even aware that they have a thyroid disorder.
Aside from being hard to diagnose, thyroid disorders are dangerous because the symptoms manifest gradually but escalate quickly. Before you know it, living a life that is not 100% will become your new normal.
Besides that, it may mislead you into taking antidepressants for your depression. Thyroid disorders are fairly easy and relatively cheap to treat after diagnosis. You don’t have to shell out a ton of cash to treat your depression if it’s caused by a thyroid disorder, nor do you have to deal with the adverse side-effects of antidepressants.
What Does Your Thyroid Do?
Your thyroid is an important little butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of your neck. It regulates your body’s basal metabolic rate and is part of the intricate endocrine system in your body.
Although your thyroid gland is in charge of dispatching thyroid hormones, it relies on the pituitary gland and the hippocampus to tell it how much hormones to produce. Because every single cell in your body needs thyroid hormones to function properly, your body needs to produce just the right amount of thyroid hormones. If there’s an imbalance, you will experience a whole host of issues with your body, including feelings of depression, anxiety, and impaired memory.
Types of Thyroid Disorders
Hypothyroidism is a thyroid condition where your body’s thyroid hormone count is lower than it should be. Not only that, but your thyroid also slows down its thyroid hormone production. Because of this, your whole body slows down significantly and may lead to metabolic issues like weight gain, brain fog, and memory loss.
Although hypothyroidism can only be confirmed with a blood test, you can take the initiative by being more aware of your body’s wellbeing. Besides psychological symptoms, you might also experience these common symptoms if you have hypothyroidism:
- Feeling cold
- Dry skin and hair
- Hair loss
- Appetite loss
- Constant pins and needles in your hands and/or feet
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Heavier or worsening menstrual periods and cramps
On the contrary, hyperthyroidism is a condition whereby your thyroid production speeds up. Because of this, too much thyroid hormones are left circulating your system and you experience a range of symptoms like:
- Increased or irregular heart rate
- Unexpected weight loss
- More frequent bowel movements
- Muscle weakness
- Low sperm count
- Premature balding
Postpartum thyroiditis is a thyroid condition that affects 5% of women within the year after their first child. It is caused by antithyroid antibodies attacking your thyroid, which causes it to inflame. Not much is known about why these antibodies attack your thyroid in the first place though.
Symptoms of Postpartum Thyroiditis
Postpartum thyroiditis is experienced in 2 phases – hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In the first phase, you will experience typical hyperthyroidism symptoms, like anxiety, heart palpitations, and weight loss. Most women don’t notice this and chalk up all the symptoms to the changes their bodies go through after childbirth. This phase normally lasts around 3 months.
The second phase of postpartum thyroiditis is characterized by hypothyroidism. It can last up to a year and is typically more severe than the first phase. Like the first phase, you’ll experience hypothyroidism symptoms, like depression, extreme fatigue, and forgetfulness.
For some women, postpartum thyroiditis goes away by itself in about a year or so. But for others, this condition coupled with the stress of having a newborn and other hormonal changes can trigger a more severe condition like postpartum depression.
Treating Thyroid-related Depression
When it comes to treating thyroid-related depression, awareness is key. You need to know what the normal feels like for your body (by using gadgets or instinct) and being able to identify symptoms when something’s gone wrong. If your depression is triggered by your thyroid, the best way to overcome it is to go to the source of the issues.
Go To Your Doctor
If you think something’s not right with your body, always start with your doctor. Your doctor can tell you for sure if your depression is triggered by your thyroid or not by ordering a very simple blood test.
Gone are the days of dubious thyroid medicine, where they do more harm than good. Thanks to advancements in medicine, thyroid supplements are cheap and easy to buy. Besides that, you can try different brands and doses to see what works for you since there are a ton of products out there.