Many of you have written in with legitimate concerns regarding your mental health – symptoms often include depression, fatigue, weight gain/loss, sluggishness, poor/increased sleep and feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness. All too often, doctors blame depression, and immediately pull out the prescription pad.
What if it isn't depression? What if it isn't anxiety? What if these feelings are caused by something else, totally unrelated to mental illness? New studies are starting to point in that direction. The culprit? That little one ounce organ that's shaped like a butterfly which wraps around the trachea just below your Adam's apple- the thyroid gland.
This little powerhouse has a specific function -- to take iodine that is found naturally in many foods and to transform it into thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones. Thyroid cells, in fact, are the only cells in the body that can absorb iodine, a necessary nutrient.
Imagine this: The regulation of metabolism of every cell in our body is reliant upon these thyroid hormones. What happens when these thyroid hormone levels drop?
Researchers have disagreed for a long time over the correlation between the functioning of the thyroid and psychiatric symptoms, but the latest research is indicating that there are many patients taking medications for depression and/or anxiety, when in fact a simple prescription for synthetic thyroid hormone replacement would correct everything.
No one argues that low T3 or T4 can cause depression. The debate comes in cases where those hormones are normal but the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is slightly elevated. The normal range -- which is still debated -- for TSH is between 0.4 to 5 -- the higher the TSH, the less active the thyroid.
The majority of endocrinologist agree that if the levels are 10 or more, the patient should be treated for hypothyroidism.
But now, more docs and researchers are advocating treatment when TSH is between 5 and 10- especially if depression is present. I couldn't agree more, and it's about time.
It is very possible that many patients who think they have an untreatable depression simply have high TSH. If so, a lifetime of simple hormone replacement could change their lives for the better-- forever.