Depression is common nowadays, and there are various factors that play a significant role in causing depression like stress, loneliness, certain medication, death or a loss etc. But did you know it can be linked to hormones?
Yes, hormone imbalance can be a real culprit of depression, sometimes. To know that, we need to understand depression in layman's terms.
Depression is a disorder that affects how you feel, think and behave. It is a persistent feeling of sadness that hinders day-to-day activities.
Depression is more than just feeling low. It can disturb your sleep cycle, appetite, energy levels, etc. Research suggests that chronic medical conditions like thyroid disorder can progress to clinical depression.
Are you wondering what the link is between thyroid and depression? How can the thyroid cause depression? If yes, this blog is all about it.
Let's dive in!
What is the link between thyroid and depression?
The link between thyroid and depression has been known for a long time. According to research, thyroid patients are at high risk to develop symptoms of depression. Conversely, various minor thyroid abnormalities may accompany depression.
A person can be diagnosed with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is underactive. It produces less than required thyroid hormones. A study cited that 1 to 4% of patients with mental disorders have overt hypothyroidism. In comparison, subclinical hypothyroidism occurs in 4% to 40% of these patients.
People may also suffer from anxiety disorder due to hyperthyroidism but fail to find this connection. Well, it's true. Hyperthyroidism can be the reason behind anxiety and depression.
How can the thyroid cause depression?
The thyroid gland secretes thyroid hormones that regulate functions, such as metabolism, body temperature, etc.
One hormone abnormality can affect the functioning of the other and vice versa. This interplay between the hormones also affects your mood.
Now let’s see why you might feel under the weather frequently when you have hypothyroidism. T3 secreted by thyroid glands regulates the levels and actions of serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid). And serotonin is a mood booster– the lack of which can give you depressive symptoms.
Hyperthyroidism was also found to be linked with mood disorders and Bipolar Depression.
Thyroid and depression have overlapping symptoms which makes it easy to miss. The right way is to test your T3 and T4 levels to know if you have an underactive thyroid that can cause depression.
Studies have found that the Serum T4 levels in depressed individuals are somewhat higher compared to healthy people.
Other studies have found that the level of T3 is lower with an increase in the levels of Reverse T3 (RT3) in depression. Some studies suggest mild hypothyroidism leads to increased TSH levels, contributing to depression.
So, reach out to a thyroid expert and begin your treatment to avoid further complications.
The functional approach and treatment of thyroid-induced depression
Overlapping symptoms of depression and hypothyroidism can make it extremely difficult for doctors to diagnose and find the root cause.
As stated earlier, T3 is responsible for the secretion of serotonin– the happy hormone– the lack of which causes depression. If you have a leaky gut, T3 secretion may be affected
Do you think taking medicine for surface symptoms will work on the iceberg underneath? No!
The functional approach addresses underlying causes that contribute to depression. According to Jeevam Health, these root causes include nutritional deficiencies, inflammation, protein deficiency, stress, etc.
Thyroid experts can ask for thyroid panel tests to confirm your medical diagnosis. Functional medicine doctor works to find the missing link between cause and disease and makes a personalised plan catering to your specific needs.This means getting holistic solutions including medication, meal plans, and supplementation.
What are the different ways to treat your thyroid and depression?
If you have depressive symptoms or feel low all the time, it's highly recommended that you reach out to someone, preferably a doctor.
Even though this might sound like the last thing you want to do, it's for your good. A professional can better decide what's best for you. So, reach out to a thyroid expert or doctor and follow as asked.
Get your thyroid test done.
I can see your eyes rolling already. But, your thyroid can be the reason behind what you are feeling. If you are a hypothyroidism patient, you must get yourself tested regularly. But if you are new to this, don’t be surprised if your doctor asks for a thyroid test.
Trust your doctor's medical judgement and get tested as advised.
Give attention to what you consume.
You are what you eat. The food we consume is a marker of how healthy we are. So, consuming nutritious food is a must. Add food rich in Alpha- linoleic acids such as walnuts and avocado to your diet.
Certain foods can trigger your sensitivities and worsen your hypothyroidism. So avoid food triggers such as refined sugar, gluten, etc.
- Sometimes, even a short walk in the fresh air may be all you need at the end of a long day. You can even choose to go to the gym, play a sport, or indulge in any activity that you enjoy.
Take supplementations if necessary.
“Vitamin D deficiency is a common nutrient deficiency in those with thyroid disease.” Around 76% of Indians are Vitamin D deficient.
Other deficiencies include iron, zinc, folate, and selenium. “Unfortunately, even a healthy diet may not meet all these needs.” So, supplement intake can keep your thyroid condition in check, thereby treating depression.
There are several causes of depression, but it's essential to find the RIGHT cause to treat the disease. In such cases, functional medicine helps. Depression is a sensitive subject and should be taken seriously. So, don't delay and take steps immediately if you feel you are suffering from it.