Are you experiencing symptoms which you can’t explain?
Have you begun feeling sad, low, or sluggish with no reasonable explanation of why this is happening?
From unexplained weight gain or loss, to dry skin, and even anxiety and depression, the answer might lie in your thyroid.
Although we tend to think of anxiety and depression as happening in our brain, our hormones and endocrine system present in the whole body can affect your mental health in ways you might not suspect or realize.
Today we are going to look at how symptoms of anxiety and depression can be exacerbated by thyroid conditions.
So to learn more about this unexpected origin of some mental health issues, keep reading.
Recap: What Is Your Thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland which sits at the front of the neck, beneath your Adam’s apple (or where your Adam’s apple would be).
It is responsible for the secretion of hormones that regulate functions such as breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and body weight.
Thyroid hormones are vital to the functioning of the body, and an imbalance can cause major issues.
How Your Thyroid Affects Your Mental Health
You might think of mental health issues originating in the brain, however hormone levels can have a major impact on how we feel – one of the major hormonal influencers, the thyroid, can definitely affect our mental health.
Keep reading to learn more about this unexpected link.
Your Thyroid And Depression
Feeling low lately? Your thyroid might be to blame.
Symptoms of depression may include lack of focus, loss of motivation, irritability, sadness, and generally feeling “low”.
You might have a general feeling of slowness, headaches, stomach pain, and more.
If you begin feeling these symptoms, especially if you don’t have a history of depression, you might be suffering from hypothyroidism.
The Hypothyroidism Connection
Although depression and hypothyroidism (when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone) are two separate disorders, depression can be a symptom of hypothyroidism.
If you’re diagnosed with depression, but you aren’t sure it’s the right diagnosis, ask to have your thyroid levels checked. If your thyroid is found to be under-functioning, treating the thyroid may be a more appropriate option than using antidepressants.
Additionally, some treatments which are used for depression can interfere with thyroid function.
An example of this is lithium treatment, which reduces the amount of iodine that the thyroid gland can access; iodine is needed for the production of the thyroid hormone, and thus making the problem worse, not better.
Your Thyroid And Stress
You have likely felt what it is like to be under high amounts of stress at some point in your life.
At this time you may have had increased irritability, neglected self-care activities such as exercise and eating well, and possibly gained weight.
When you’re stressed your body releases cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
When levels of cortisol are elevated, it can block the production of thyroid hormones, which impacts both your mental and endocrine health.
When you put these together it becomes a spiral – your thyroid is not working well, so you feel tired and low.
Your body reacts to stress by increasing the release of cortisol, which then further impacts your thyroid production.
This is a cycle that can be stopped by working to reduce stress, and thus reducing cortisol and allowing thyroid hormones to be produced.
Contact Annex Naturopathic
If you suspect your thyroid levels are low and are looking for a natural alternative to synthetic thyroid medications, Annex Naturopathic can help.
We will determine if hypothyroidism is your issue, and if indicated we can prescribe natural thyroid replacement therapy, while also offering you a comprehensive treatment plan.
Yours in Health,
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND