The role of thyroid hormones in mood

Anxiety? Depression? Angry? Sad?

The relationship between thyroid function and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression has long been recognised with research revealing that both too much and too little thyroid hormones can cause mood abnormalities.

In Australia, 1 in 2 people will experience a mental health disorder, and given the strong correlation between thyroid dysfunction and mood disorders, it stands to reason that thyroid function should be measured in all patients presenting with a mood disorder.

Studies reveal that patients with thyroid disorders are more likely to develop depressive symptoms, particularly those with hypothyroidism (a prevalence of 63.5% of depressive symptoms was reported in an Italian population with subclinical hypothyroidism), while anxiety disorders have been found to occur in approximately 60% of hyperthyroid patients.

Thyroid medication has been found to improve the efficacy of anti-depressant medication, due to the ability of the antidepressants to enhance the activity of the D2 enzyme that aids conversion of T4 into active T3 in the brain. Whilst this is useful, if the mood disorder is caused by thyroid dysfunction than the driver of the condition (the thyroid dysfunction) must also be assessed.

Mood disorders associated with thyroid dysfunction are easily remedied once thyroid function returns to normal. This can be done using a combination of diet, lifestyle & if desired, conventional medication.

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