Feeling stressed, irritable, anxious, depressed?
You’re not crazy. It may be your thyroid.
by Susan Harris, MSN, CNM FNP-C
LifeStream Health Center & Med Spa
Feeling stressed, irritable, anxious, depressed? You’re not crazy.
While these symptoms can be signs of a mental disorder, depression, irritability, stress and anxiety are also symptoms of thyroid disease. Presented to a mainstream doctor, these signs are usually dismissed as general mental illness. The common cure is to pop a Prozac and schedule a visit to your therapist’s office, but could there be another piece to this puzzle?
Mental health and thyroid levels are not generally associated with each other, but they should be. According to The Thyroid Federation International, there are up to 300 million thyroid sufferers worldwide, but over half are presumed to be unaware of their condition. This leaves 150 million people believing they are going crazy without probable cause. The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland positioned at the front of your neck, and produces hormones that control almost every organ in your body. Realizing that the thyroid gland has an affect on every organ in the body, it makes sense that imbalanced thyroid levels could create quite an array of mental health problems.
For those who experience panic attacks, mood swings and symptoms of the sort, it can be disheartening to hear that there is no direct cause other than mental health issues. In my experience with patients, dealing with extreme fatigue, general lack of interest, and anxiety can last for months before they finally seek medical help. Primary care physicians suggest counseling and antidepressants, with little investigation into patients’ case. Some patients will take antidepressants for years, but still sense something is “off” with their bodies. After finding out comprehensive blood tests to ensure all of hormone levels were are tact, patients will schedule appointments at LifeStream Health Centre to get labs done. When they come in to review their lab results and finally receive a concrete diagnosis of their psychological suffering, patients are overwhelmed with relief. Seeing on paper what is going on internally is a breath of fresh air. To be able to pinpoint what is causing mental health issues as thyroid level imbalances gives reassurance that there is indeed something wrong, but now it has a name: thyroid disease.
There should be thyroid testing done for every single person suffering from mental health symptoms. A widespread panel of thyroid levels should be tested to adequately gauge if there is a problem. Most doctors will rely on a single TSH test to diagnose and treat thyroid dysfunction, however many thyroid sufferers have a “normal” TSH level but still suffer from mental health symptoms. A full thyroid panel should include Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and Thyroid Antibodies, along with TSH. Even though this is the most complete way to measure thyroid levels, these tests are often not a routine measure taken by mainstream doctors.
Functional medicine and comprehensive lab testing are key elements in wellness. Functional medicine addresses underlying causes of disease, diving deeper into patients’ health issues. Functional medicine advocates a partnership between practitioner and patient creating a patient-centered approach, rather than a disease-centered approach. The reason that functional medicine is more beneficial to the patient than mainstream medicine is because functional medicine explores the health of the whole person rather than an isolated set of symptoms. Looking at environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors are an essential component of functional medicine; ensuring that all possible causes are investigated thoroughly.
Psychological problems can be scary and unsettling, but with the proper analysis and plan of action you can be on your way to being a better version of you. Thyroid issues are so common, yet few people are tested properly.
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING THESE SYMPTOMS, IT MAY BE TIME TO CHECK YOUR THYROID LEVELS.
Nervousness or panic attack
Fast heart rate
Slowing of mental processes
Progressive loss of initiative and interest
Thinking is easily muddled
Depression with paranoia