thyroid conditions and psychosis - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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thyroid conditions and psychosis


Hi - I had psychotic episodes when my daughter was a baby and up to her being 3, when they got much worse and I finally had my thyroid removed. No symptoms of psychosis since. I have always thought that the psychosis was caused by my thyroid condition but there was a lot of cross-over with PND and PP and was wondering if anyone else has been diagnosed with a thyroid condition? I was constantly told that my thyroid results were 'normal' until they suddenly escalated to a dangerous level about a year and a half post partum and I was severely thyrotoxic. i had hashitoxicosis and the surgeon said this is probably the cause of the PND and psychosis rather than simply post partum symptoms on their own. Anyone had similar experiences?

13 Replies

Hello thyroidma, My goodness, having psychotic episodes until your daughter was 3 must have been very emotionally draining. I had PP on two occasions following the births of my children but have never been diagnosed with a thyroid condition. I'm glad that you have not had any symptoms since your thyroid was removed although it must have been a worrying time for you.

There are mums here who may have had similar experiences and will be able to offer more support and advice.

Take good care of yourself.

I have recently had TFT tests as sometimes I feel sick and shaky but doesn't feel like anxiety linked with PP but they were all completely normal. And it appears that sub consciously anxiety can make you feel awful. So I suppose the answer for me is they weren't linked x

My post partum psychosis was not thyroid-related (according to tests) after having had my son, but I do know that thyroid issues after having a baby can bring on a psychosis according to my psychiatrist and if you goggle the two there are various research papers on line. Everyone who has had a psychosis should have their thyroid tested.

over active thyroid or under active? and only thing I can add is that my doctor thought my thyroid was low but Psychiatrist said it was in the normal range, and a naturopath said thyroid conditions are very underdiagnosed...SO, not sure if the bell curve to determine the normal range is a helpful one? or if is being reviewed etc

Thanks everyone - hashitoxicosis swings between over and under active thyroid as the thyroid is gradually destroyed by the immune system. It's these intermittent massive doses of thyroxine in the system that cause the psychosis from what I understand, however the imbalance in the thyroid generally has a knock on effect on the rest of the hormones and so has a tendency to lead to other mental and physical symptoms, depression, exhaustion, mania, aches and pains, sudden weight gain/loss etc. The peaks and troughs in levels tend to cancel each other out and show as 'normal' on TFT scans. It's only through testing thyroid anti-bodies that a true picture can be built up, but as that's not a standard test it often goes under the radar I think…. I was lucky I had one TFT scan which was severely hyperthyroid then the rest normal so there was a query and the endo tested my anti-bodies. It took 7 years for a proper diagnosis and my mental health was deteriorating the whole time and then when I had a baby everything went really crazy. The "normal" thyroid range is massive, there's only a small bit of it where I feel ok, even now I don't have a thyroid and take synthetic thyroxine, if it's 'normal' but low, I'm dragging myself around on the ground and having morbid thoughts…..

I generally get the impression that psychiatrists are not aware of hashitoxicosis (most endocrinologists seem unaware of it too which is why it took so long for a proper diagnosis).

in reply to thyroidma

Hello again thyroidma, I'm so sorry to read from your latest post that it took 7 years for your thyroid problem to be diagnosed and then you had the added stress of PP. I'm a bit concerned that you talk about dragging yourself around on the ground and having morbid thoughts even now. Do you have support, a GP, family member or friend you can confide in? Sometimes we need someone to speak on our behalf to convey how low these illnesses can make us feel.

We are all here for you. Take very good care

in reply to Lilybeth

thanks Lilybeth, but don't worry, I'm aware of the symptoms and my GP is great at adjusting the doses even if my results are 'normal'. (I know what's normal for me….;-))

I know that I have to really look after myself to keep on top of everything - and, mostly, I do. I just know a lot of people who don't have such enlightened medical care and are just left to get on with it, or end up on anti-depressants etc. when they would probably benefit more from fine tuning their thyroid meds and some lifestyle changes.

in reply to thyroidma

Thanks thyroidma, I agree, sometimes it's hard to keep on top of everything. I'm pleased to hear you have a supportive G.P.

Please take good care of yourself.


Hi Thyroidma, having psychotic episodes up to your daughter being three must have been really tough - I'm so glad you've now got a proper diagnosis, even if it's after such a long time. There is a close relationship between thyroid problems & mood disorders so it's probably a good idea to have your thyroid checked. I don't know if there can still be thyroid problems when results come back normal - it's an interesting & complex subject & I'll get some more information for us. (bear with us though if it takes a while).

It sounds like you've got everything under control & you've got a good understanding of how to look after yourself to stay well - well done! Thanks for highlighting this issue & take care.

thanks Andrea. It was hell, but it's over now, so I'm really, really lucky. Although I won't risk going through it again (I've stuck at one child) the aftereffects that it's had on my life are far reaching and overwhelmingly positive. Like a poster said of PP, I realise that I am much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. There is some interesting research on thyroid meds referenced here But I think these large scale trials that have been done in the UK are just the very tip of the iceberg and I don't know of any elsewhere. It's incredibly complicated as the thyroid interacts with just about every cell in the human body. Thanks for the support ladies.


Hello thyroidma - reading your experience was like a bright light shining through a window.

I am nearly 70 but my thyroid condition post natally was never diagnosed - my notes

revealed puerperal pscyhosis with a kidney infection after the birth of my daughter but no thyroid tests were given nearly fifty years ago.

However following a hysterectomy a diagnosis of thyrotoxicosis was

found, which was diagnosed as depression and anxiety state. The mania with palpitations

was treated after drug induced jaundice with Valium. Since then I have been wary of any

medial intervention. I think thyroid conditions are rarely tested for. Results may show a slight abnormality, but the symptoms which may include racing brain and heart palpitations are not evaluated. The removal of your thyroid was a proven cure for you. I think you are right, and that the thyroid gland needs more investigation prior and after childbirth.


This is a really interesting topic, and one that I would guess there needs to be more research on, as with all things PP! On checking with the academic experts at APP, the feedback we have is:

"thyroid is the most common known cause of mood disorders, particularly bipolar, and should be checked in all women who develop PP."

I know this was done for me personally, also around the fact that I was on Lithium. My Drs told me that this medication can affect thyroid function as well, so it was important to check levels. In my experience, I had a couple of abnormal results and it was thought that my function might be dipping and I may need thyroxin. However, it was then normal and I've not had any problems since and have also come off lithium after taking it for 3 years post PP

Thanks for raising the question, there are some more FAQs on the APP website:

All the best, xx

Thanks Hannah

I want to stress again that clinically 'Normal' (i.e. within the normal TSH range) is definitely not normal or healthy for everyone. Some people, like me, can be well within the normal range and very ill. I think it's imperative that Drs treating women with PPP are aware of this, & perform full TFTs including T3 & RT3 & antibody tests for hashimotos and Graves' disease. I saw many endocrinologists who were unaware that I could have hashimotos and yet still be thyrotoxic -so effectively hyper and hypo thyroid concurrently with normal TSH & T4. Sorry if that's too technical, I know my experience is supposed to be rare but speaking to other women, I think it may be relevant. Stress also causes an increased autoimmune response - I've since discovered my high needs baby (now 9) has autistic spectrum disorder, which now makes sense - I was really struggling to cope with a baby who couldn't sleep and had intense sensory issues with light/touch etc. which all served to exacerbate my thyroid condition. Perfect storm for PPP. Thanks.

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