Can an Underactive Thyroid Cause Depression
The thyroid gland is a part of your endocrine system. Your endocrine system is responsible for producing and regulating hormones in your body. If you have an underactive thyroid, not only is hormone production and regulation decreased, the condition can have an effect on:
- Energy levels
Some symptoms of depression are associated with an underactive thyroid.
What do hormones have to do with depression?
Hormones typically affect cyclical processes in the body.
- Fluctuations in mood and stress cycles
- Menstrual cycles
Different cyclical processes can cause your body to produce increased amounts of cortisol, decreased amounts of estrogen, and cause an imbalance of melatonin and serotonin. If you are hormone deficient because of underactive thyroid, these fluctuations will get progressively more severe.
An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from thyroid conditions. Women are 5 to 8 times more likely to have these conditions than men.
The long-term increase in cortisol and imbalance in melatonin and serotonin have been linked to thyroid-related depression. It is possible to experience a thyroid malfunction that’s coupled with menstrual or depression problems simultaneously. The onset of the symptoms can occur relatively quickly, but it takes a while for the signs to become medically noticeable. If you suspect you have an underactive thyroid, get tested immediately.
How long does it take to get diagnosed?
A diagnosis might happen right away, or it may take several months to show up in a blood test; it depends on how pronounced the hormone deficiency is. Once underactive thyroid is detected, you will be put on hormone replacement therapy, but that may not alleviate your symptoms of depression.
It’s not uncommon for patients to be put on both hormone replacement therapy and an antidepressant while their body readjusts its hormone levels. The duration of these antidepressants depends on the prognosis of each patient. There may be dietary and lifestyle changes you can make, even while on hormone replacement therapy, that will improve your depression more quickly.
If you suspect you have a thyroid condition and it is not showing up in your blood work, you can get a second opinion from an endocrinologist. Some patients have borderline test results and those results can remain borderline for several months. An endocrinologist may be able to help you reverse those borderline symptoms before you have to live with an underactive thyroid for life.
This level of prevention and reversal isn’t possible in all cases, but it is worthwhile, especially if you’re looking to understand more about thyroid conditions and how they are treated.
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