Depression or "thyroid" depression?

Hi everyone,

Please can you clarify something for me? I know a lot of us get fobbed off with the "you're depressed" line from our doctors when really we're hypothyroid and not depressed at all, but do some hypothyroid people really experience true depression as a symptom? And is the depression that they experience exactly like "depression depression" (sorry!) or is it its own kind of "thyroid depression" that feels different?

Sorry of this is too confusing! I'm quite confused myself :s

Thanks for any help xx

28 Replies

  • Most often there are other thyroid signs as well as depression, these can be very individual (eg dry skin, constipation, feeling cold) but the main difference is that it's relieved by a dose increase.

  • Thanks Aurealis. Guess I just have to hang in there and see!

  • Believe me, 'thyroid' depression' is just as bad as 'depression depression'. In fact, for many years women in their thousands were condemned to mental hospitals indefinitely until the thyroid connection was found. They were considered hopelessly insane.

    It is almost impossible to distinguish thyroid depression from clinical depression unless you look at the other signs and symptoms and blood tests.

  • Hi Marram, thanks, sorry I didn't mean to make it sound like thyroid depression was in any way less severe, I just wondered if it felt different. I'm trying to work out what's going on with me and it's quite difficult :-s I hope it's thyroid related and will pass with proper treatment and from what you say it sounds like there's a good chance of that happening. Gotta try and stay positive :-) !

  • That's OK, I didn't think you meant that, at all.

    Yes, I agree, you stay positive, interestingly some psychiatric docs use T3 for depression. Even though it isn't thyroid related...or is it? Who knows? We just want to get better! LOL!

  • Lol :-)

  • The depressive symptoms will be the same but if the depression lifts with optimal T4 &/or T3 then it was thyroid depression.

  • Thanks Clutter, I guess I will just have to be patient then. I'm trying to resist asking for antidepressants so will put it off for a bit longer.

  • DF do you take T3?

  • Thanks, yes but at the moment I think it might be doing more harm than good - I'm only on 0.5 grains Armour and 2.5mcg T3 so need to raise really.

  • Brain is a gross feeder of T3 but not sure how such a teeny dose will help.

  • Yes hoping that once my dose goes up things might start to improve :-s

  • To divert - why do these columns get narrower and narrower?

    I think when patients aren't getting better on thyroid meds and complain to GP, they just say you're depressed when in reality you are really feeling awful due to not being on the proper meds for you, whether NDT or levo. When you feel so unwell it's not surprising people feel depressed.

  • lol just to confuse us I think :-)

    Yes you're right, it would be understandable for patients to become depressed. The thing is, although I have been ill for some time now, I don't think I am depressed in that way. Miserable about it yes but I'm also feeling other things which have only come on recently and fairly quickly so I thought it might be due to change in thyroid meds. Pretty sure these other things would be considered depression though :-s

  • There is no bloodtest for depression but many GP's prescribe anti-d's but wont give thyroid gland meds due to the TSH.

  • Madness!

  • here's hoping you'll feel better soon with the addition of T3 - J :D

  • Thanks :-)

  • I have been hypo for 12 years after birth of my daughter. Had boy 4 yrs ago and felt 'low' a lot. Spiked last August, and ended up on anti depressants but then diagnosed with low b12. I still taking anti depressants at the moment but think that depression is a symptom and I now they have helped me. I worried about being labeled as 'depressed' but I would say......give it a go. A lot of people are upset that they are not being given medication for thyroid issues when classed as 'borderline' why put off medication for depression/low mood if it's offered x

  • Thank you for your reply :-) I am taking thyroid medication (Armour and T3) but a very low dose at the moment. I am also hesitant of taking antidepressants as I have heard that they can be very difficult to stop for some people, even if thyroid is the culprit. Although everyone is different I guess :-) x

  • I agree with you. I have been on them 5 months and due review in March where I will be looking at reducing with a view to coming off. I know it can be really bad if you just stop taking them x

  • My experience is the "comes and goes" depression that I have been feeling in the past 2 years is very different to the depression I have felt in the past. I had post natal depression after my first child and had a bit of a breakdown in my early twenties and both felt very different because although I had good and bad days the depressed feeling was there 24/7. What I have been experiencing in the last 2 years or so is different. My hubby says it's like a switch, I go from normal/happy to really low from one hour to the next. I've tried to figure out why and my previous gp was convinced that it was severe PMS but when I pointed out that it doesn't always happen before my period,that it's random and I never know when it will happen she shifted to "you're depressed" and because I had a history of depression I couldn't get her to budge from that.

    So idea if this helps at all,but this is what I have experienced.

    And to add to what Clutter said...a depression that doesn't go away with antidepressants is also a sign that it might be a symptom of something else (thyroid). My previous gp was so useless that she just said stuff like "depression stands alone,it's not a symptom of something else"

  • Thank you, yes it is helpful :-) useless GP indeed! I think what I'm feeling is slowly lifting, but it's so slow it's hard to tell. Hoping it's thyroid related :-s although it does seem to be hanging around all the time...

  • Hi DiamondFire,

    My depression lifts itself and goes back down again, so yes I can sympathise with feeling so terrible with this.

    I get other things with my depression - anxiety, mood swings, etc. It is distressing and I can't confide in my boyfriend about it since he doesn't believe in mental health issues. And he's worried that if I seek help for my depression he'd no longer love the person he fell in love with! Cliched, I know.

    Jo xxx

  • I trust your ferritin and folate are way up in the upper quadrant of their ranges because thats vital to utilise all t4 containing medicines

    if they are then you will likely find that ndt or erfa or armour will give best results

  • I have a history of depression, way before I had any thyroid symptoms but that is as a result of childhood abuse so I don't think it was linked then. I don't feel depressed now, just really ill & utterly brassed off with not being taken seriously. But of course they think I'm depressed!

  • I have been hypothyroid for 25 years. I believe the difference is... That you 'know' that the depression has a physical cause. I have been sent to psychiatrist twice whilst trying to sort out my medication and treatment. And each time I knew I wasn't depressed, I knew I was feeling shit because my medication wasn't working properly, this was making me feel down because no one was listening to me. Keep on with your treatment, keep researching and good luck xxx

  • Oh and vitamin d 3 everyone!!! Xxx

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