Thyroid UK
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Brain fog, anxiety, confusion and memory loss.

Brain fog, anxiety and memory loss. My mother has been suffering these symptoms for the last 2 years. The symptoms are getting worse and I don't know where to get help.

She has had ct and mri scan which both came up clear, dr thought she may have dementia. Dr now think it's depression and gave her 30mg of mirth aping, which knocked her for six so reduced it to 15mg She is also currently taking 125mg of levothyroxine, 10 mg lisinopril, 5 mg folpik and 40 mg simvastatin.

She was suffering badly from tremors in her hands but this seems to have disappeared now and been replaced with extreme anxiety and panic attacks. She is unable to recall what she did in the morning never mind the day before. She also seems to have lost all interest and personality.

I am at my wits end as don't know where to go to from here. Previously she was going to dr every second day regarding the "cotton wool" feeling she had in her head. I've put a stop to this and try and talk her through her feelings, which helps slightly but starts again the following morning.

Any help or suggestions would be very much appreciated.



35 Replies

Do you have any lab results for her? If so, post them on here, with the ranges, and let us have a look.

It's more than likely that she's under-medicated, and all her symptoms - including the high blood pressure and the high cholesterol - are due to low T3.

Hypos really should not be on statins. It is contra-indicated. Her cholesterol would come down if she were correctly treated for her hypo. Statins cause more problems than they solve - and, besides, high cholesterol is not a problem. It does not cause heart attacks or strokes.

Does she take her levo on an empty stomach and leave at least one hour before eating or drinking anything but water? Does she leave at least two hours before taking her other medication?


Thank you so much for your reply. What you have said is exactly what I've been thinking, especially the statins. I don't have any blood results. I'm taking her to Dr tomorrow so will ask about that and request she get her bloods taken.

She does take her Levo on an empty stomach with water, although she then drinks tea. I'll change that from now on.

Hopefully I get some lad results to post and let you have a look at these.

Once again, thanks very much.


You're welcome. :)

Forgot to add, it's your mother's legal right to have a copy of her own blood tests, under the 1998 Data Protection Act. If she can ask for them, they can't refuse. Don't know if they'd give them to you, though.


No it should be fine, I'm taking her to doctors and we already have power of attorney set up.


OK, that's great then! :)


Calcium/ potassium channels may be compromicompcomprombecompromicompcompromi


Sorry? What happened there??? lol


thinking of synapse degeneration. But got muddled .




Hmm. Seems like your mother's doctor is in full "Blame the Patient" mode.

As well as suspecting she is under-medicated and almost certainly has low Free T3 I also suspect your mother is very low on nutrients.

Levothyroxine is a synthetic version of thyroxine (otherwise known as T4), a hormone that thyroids produce. It has little or no activity of its own.

The T4 has to be converted in the body into the active hormone T3. It is low T3 that makes people feel hypothyroid (underactive) and high T3 that makes people feel hyperthyroid (overactive).

A healthy thyroid produces some T3 directly. The rest of the T3 the body needs is made by converting T4 in muscles and organs around the body. One of the biggest users of T3 is the brain. The heart needs plenty too.

Doctors rarely measure T3. They say it isn't important (!!!) and it fluctuates too much to be worth measuring. But if your mother's thyroid can't produce much (or any) T3 and she can't convert T4 into T3 very well, then she will be very low in it. Without measuring it the doctors will never know.

In order to convert T4 into T3 the body needs good levels of nutrients. The problem is that hypothyroidism reduces stomach acid and makes it harder to extract minerals and vitamins from food.

The nutrients that are vital to conversion are vitamin B12, vitamin D, folate and ferritin (iron stores).

These nutrients need to be at optimal levels, not just within the reference range. So for example a level of ferritin of 15 ug/L with a reference range of (15 - 150) would be classed as "normal" by the NHS and no treatment would be offered. But hypothyroid people need the levels to be optimal. For ferritin, with the reference range I've given, this would be around 80 - 100. Some people feel best slightly above this, with a level of 100 - 120.

Note that optimal is not the same for every nutrient.

So, you need to find out the levels of your mother's nutrients and supplement where necessary. You also need to find out her Free T3. The NHS rarely prescribes T3, but it can legally be bought online and imported for personal use. Many of the hypothyroid people who are left to suffer by the NHS do this so that we can have a life.

If you can get results from your mother's doctor, great. If you can't there are ways and means of getting tested privately without involving a doctor.

By the way, low vitamin B12 and low Free T3 are two causes of dementia-like symptoms which are actually reversible if they are dealt with in time.


Thanks for the reply. So I'm going with her to doctors tomorrow I'll ask for new bloods to be taken, but as you said they may not test for everything. If they don't agree to testing how would I go about doing it privately?

I just feel as if this is never ending and we are going round in circles at the moment, but fingers crossed we get her through this.



I wrote this for someone else earlier today :

You can do a finger-prick test privately without involving your doctor.

There is this one from Blue Horizon :

And there is this one from Medichecks which is currently on special offer :

Both tests cover the same things.

To use either test :

1) Order the test online.

2) You will be sent a kit through the post to allow you to prick your fingers and tubes for catching the blood.

3) Package up the blood and send it through the post asking for "Guaranteed next day delivery by 1pm"

4) Results are sent via email.

When to do the test :

1) Must be done Monday - Thursday, not Friday - Sunday. The blood has to be posted the same day it is taken, and must arrive at the lab no later than the day after it is taken. There is no point in doing the test when the Post Office is closed and there is no point in doing the test if the lab will be closed when it arrives.

2) Decide which day you will do the test. The day before, take the day's normal dose of levo first thing in the morning, no later. Don't eat or drink after about 9pm - 10pm, apart from water which should be drunk freely. You don't want to be dehydrated when you do the test.

3) In the morning, don't eat or drink (apart from water) until after the blood draw. Aim to prick your fingers around 7am - 8am if possible. The later it is the lower your TSH will be (which is not usually desirable). Don't take the day's dose of levo until after the blood has been taken. There has to be a 24 hour gap between taking the last dose of Levo and taking the blood.

4) Package up the blood. Take it to the Post Office before their last delivery time for "Guaranteed next day delivery by 1pm". In my local Post Office I can't post after approx 4pm for this kind of service, but you will have to check for yourself what the latest posting time is where you live.

5) Once you have your results copy them into a new post here and ask for feedback.


Ask doctor to test her B12 (which has been shown to be very low in those with Alzeimers/dementia. Also ask for B12, Vit D, iron, ferritin and folate as we are usually very low.

When your mother has a blood test for thyroid hormones the appointment should be the earliest and fasting but she can drink water. Also she should leave about 24 hours between her last dose of levo and the test and take it afterwards.

Thyroid hormones should be taken first thing on an empty stomach with a full glass of water and wait about an hour before eating. Food interferes with the uptake. She can also, if she prefers, take it at bedtime as long as she's last eaten about 3 hours previously.

Both humanbean and greygoos are so right about statins.


Thanks for the advice. When I go tomorrow I'll as for bloods to be taken and checked for what you have mentioned.

Hopefully we'll get some answers.



If she takes any other medications she should take them well away from levo.


Hi Clydey -

The others have given you help in the thyroid arena but there is another issue, and a term that may help you if you have to argue with the GP about the number of medications she is on (or anyone else for that matter.)

There is a term called "polypharmacy" where doctors prescribe four or more drugs to treat someone particularly an elderly person when the actual problems are made worse by prescribing additional drugs. Added to this is the fact that elderly people particularly if they have a chronic condition are more likely to be nutrient deficient. This means all the GP is doing is prescribing a medication for every single individual symptom instead of checking the doses of the original drugs are right for that INDIVIDUAL patient, that any of the listed side effects of those drugs aren't causing the problems and your mother doesn't have nutrient problems.

Apart from not needing the statin your mother probably doesn't need anti-depressants. I can't actually read the name of the current anti-depressant (AD) your mother is on but the side effects of many anti-depressants include causing some of the conditions they are suppose to help. So as your mother feels terrible on it and it's causing new problems it's probably not working so you need to find out how to wean her of it and stop her being put on any other AD. Unlike statins you can't just stop taking some ADs as you can get withdrawal symptoms.

In your mother's case it is probably like a lot of people she has just been prescribed the AD because the GP doesn't know what to do, and can't cope with her repeated appointments complaining of the same thing. As humanbean has alluded to, GPs are taught that if a lab result is in range then the patient is OK and any other symptoms are caused by something else when in fact it's likely while her TSH and T4 (and T3 if tested) are in range they are not optimal for her. (Sub-optimal thyroid hormone levels with or without low nutrient levels cause brain fog, anxiety and memory loss.)


Excellent advice above.

On the nutritional side of things, our doctors have minimal training in nutrition and wouldn't recognise a deficiency if it hit them in the face.

Look at this website

for the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy.

This page lets you find a qualified nutritionist near you

Stomach acid has been mentioned. This link tells you more about it

One more thought - the current fad for low fat diets is WRONG. Your brain needs fat. Low fat foods have extra sugar instead of the fat. Make sure your mother has full cream milk, butter etc.

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Please also make sure that she is tested for B12 deficiency.


Wee update, been to doctors this morning asked for blood results which are as follow :

V b12 224 ng/l

folete >20.0

Theses results were from 9/5/16

Free t4 20.6 pmol/L

TSH 0.10 mU/L

These results were from 25/07/16. Her Levo dosage is 125/100 alternative days

Asked about T3 but was told this didn't need measured. And she couldn't find results for ferritin levels.

She also showed me previous TSH LEVELS

4/6/15 0.03

26/11/15 0.08

9/5/16 0.55

20/6/16 0.02

25/07/16 0.10

Doctor expressed how she thinks the thyroid problem is a "red herring". And got nothing to do with her symptoms. Although she has agreed to send her for full blood count and TFT3 blood tests. Also wanted to change her anti depressant but we declined until her bloods come back.

Just to recap on medication she is currently on

Levo 100/125 alternative days

Propranolol 10mg in the morning

Lisinopril 10mg morning

Simvastatin 40mg nighttime

Mertazapine 15 mg night time

She had previously been on folpik xl 5mg but recently this has been stopped.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to reply and offer advice.


B12 looks low and without a FT3 test the GP wont know if your Mum is converting properly!


Thanks, that's what I'm just thinking myself, thing is she totally dismissed testing for FT3 saying there was no need. Think I'll need to look at an alternative way to get the bloods taken.


Can you get your mum started on some B12? Also if you can get Vit D, folate and ferritin tested - they all help with conversion.


I'll need to look out for some b12. They tested her folate which was >20.0 but not tested Vit D or ferritin.


Its best to get the ranges (numbers in brackets) as labs differ.


A note for the future : Please include the reference ranges where possible with any test results. Reference ranges may be similar, but they do vary between labs. I've seen ref ranges for Free T4 for example which have been 7 - 14 or 10 - 22 or 12 - 22 or 9 - 22. As you can see, depending on what the range is, a Free T4 of 10 could be in range (just) or below range or even close to mid-range. It makes a huge difference to how doctors react to results.

Even without a reference range though, I can see that your mother's Vitamin B12 is far too low. It is possible your mother has developed Pernicious Anaemia, but unless the B12 result is below the reference range the chances of your doctor actually testing for it are slim. You could push it with the doctor and see how you get on. On the assumption that you get nowhere though, you may have to just get your mother to supplement and hope for the best. Private testing for pernicious anaemia is very expensive (in my opinion), and the testing is often not conclusive anyway. Vitamin B12 is not poisonous, so supplementing is not dangerous. Any excess is excreted in urine.

If your mother supplements with B12 but gets no benefit then she may need injections of B12 (which are standard treatment for pernicious anaemia). In some countries people can walk into a pharmacy and just buy B12 for injection over the counter. Unfortunately it is prescription only in the UK. However, it can be imported for personal use. But anything to do with injecting B12 is something you'll have to discuss with the Pernicious Anaemia group on this site. Find them here :

B12 can be supplemented in pills, patches, nasal sprays or injections. The only one I'm personally familiar with is pills.

I would suggest buying 5000 mcg pills of methylcobalamin, a form of B12 which is easily absorbed. One pill should be stuck in the mouth and allowed to dissolve as slowly as possible. No sucking or chewing.

It is not a good idea to allow the B vitamins to get out of sync with each other i.e. you don't want to be replete with on B vitamin and deficient in another. So taking a B Complex along with the methylcobalamin is a must. Whichever B Complex you buy, it needs to include methylfolate rather than folic acid, and methylcobalamin instead of cyanocobalamin. You can only get these kinds of B Complex online (as far as I'm aware). The B Complex can just be swallowed like a normal capsule or pill, it doesn't need to dissolve slowly.

If your doctor can't find any ferritin levels I hope he/she arranged for a ferritin test to be done urgently.


Thanks for replying. Sorry about the error with ranges.

TSH 0.10 mU/L range(0.35-5.00 U)

Free T4 20.6pmol/L range(9.0-21.0 U).

She's not requested ferritin level to be checked, just FBC and TFT3.

I'll have a look for supplements for her.

The way we feel just now I'd pay over the odds to get her better.


Join the PA Society before spending any money. They are the real experts on B12 on this site :

Your mother's Free T4 is extremely high in range. This suggests to me that her body is unlikely converting the T4 to T3. But without a test result it really is just speculation.

I would definitely recommend getting one of those private finger prick tests I linked to earlier. It will tell you all the essentials. If you ordered it today, you could have the results by the end of next week if the testing was done promptly.


My Mum had Kidney failure and is now on dialysis, Kidney failure is a listed side effect of statins, Mum had been on them a while, I did not realize how dangerous these pills were at the time.

Mum in Law had dementia type symptoms, was tired all the time and spoke all muddled, we took her off statins and next day she was more alert and back to her self again.

A friend's Mum had dementia like symptoms on the statins, she took her off them and she too is far better.

Cholesterol has an inverted effect on Low Thyroid, when one is high the other will be low. Treat the low thyroid optimally and the low thyroid should rise and the cholesterol will go back to normal.

Google:- Dr Malcolm Kendrick's The Great Statin Con.


Hopefully you have a good doctor. You don't say how old your mom is but there are many things besides thyroid that cause brain fog. I've recently found that vitamin B12 helps me. I've also found gluten free dairy free helps me. I do have hypothyroid and have been on meds for it for over 30 years. I took care of my mom for 20 years. Her brain fog started at about age 70 when I first had to take over her finances She was in the early stages of dementia which got worse through the years. But not debilitating. She passed last month at the age of 99. Not much can be done for dementia but I truly believe our diets are important. Try gluten free for a week and see if there's any improvement in how she feels. Best wishes.


Hi bonnie thanks for your reply and sorry for you loss x

My mum is 65, I'm going to look into getting b12 supplements, hopefully this may help. With he diet at the moment she isn't eating much so we also have to address this also.

I'm just hoping for some answers which I know probably won't come quickly, but at the moment I'm trying to cover all avenues as I've not only lost my mum just now, she's also my best friend x


It's wonderful that she has you to care for her. I was tested and found not to have a gluten sensitivity. But I feel better when I'm gluten free. It even takes some body ache away. For me it's mostly eliminating bread (which I love) and adding more fruits and vegetables, jellos, soups. If she's not eating much, there may be some stomach problem involved. At 65 if she's never been diagnosed with thyroid it may not be that. Find a good, recommended geriatric Doctor and get her a thorough physical. If he finds nothing, try looking at her diet. It may also be depression. Make sure she knows how much you care about her and need her. We sometimes take for granted that they know how we feel, but they need to hear it, too. I don't know if you're religious, but find a time to pray together. Even if it's just watching a religious tv show together. My mom and I used to watch Sunday mass on tv together. Thank you for your condolences. Good luck as you pursue help for your mom. I'm 70 so I'm near her age and understand where she might be and how she is feeling.

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Sounds like to much dopamine and a lack of internal equilibrium. Her nervous system isn't balancing itself and flooding her body with chemicals. Rest and relaxation is needed asap. If she is active try to get her to sit and rest and make sure she has plenty of fresh drinking water and a good whole food organic diet. If she has debts or worries get in touch with Christians against poverty. Try to talk to her to discover her fears which might cause the problems you have mentioned. Drugs are only part of recovery, environmental factors also need to be addressed.


The brain is a muscle that needs stimulation, lack of stimulation or inability to focus can cause this fog. If she goes over the same things every day that's her new routine and or perhaps there's an issue such has not been addressed in order for her to go forward and onto new ground. There are little books at the christian book shop that create and promote new interactions and communication pathways for anyone who wants or needs interaction with others. I'm working through one at the moment exploring evangelism which certainly evokes interaction. Is she involved with her local church as sometimes they run some interactive groups that everyone is welcome to join.


Cholesterol is produced in the body so is there for a reason. Over 25% of the brain is made up from cholesterol. There is absolutely no research to say that Statins benefit women - so ask her GP - where is the research to say your mother will benefit from taking them.

Also Statins block the production of CoQ10 which is needed in every cell of the body - a spark for every cell. She should have been prescribed this to combat the ill effects of Statins. Also VitK2 is blocked by Statins - and K2 prevents a build up of calcium in the arteries - another cause of brain problems. So all in all Statins are not a good idea.

The new generation of Statins now contain VitD - as so far that seems the only benefit of a statin - that it is anti-inflammatory. So why not take VitD instead. LOW VitD also linked to Alzheimers - research done at Exeter University. I can find the paper for you if needed.

If you type Cholesterol into the Search Thyroid UK box at the top of the page - other posts/threads will appear.


I having same thing happen.i just been digniose with underactive throid.think i had it a thew years.i noticed i have a big lump.sorry cant give any advice


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