When will drs start checking the thyroid in cases of depression?

A distant cousin developed severe alcoholism in her 20s, with depression, anxiety and weight gain. It took several visits to A&E, the GP and three dry out clinics before a private dr checked her thyroid. Yes, hypothyroid.

What a waste of her life, what a waste of NHS money!

I read long ago a site by a old dr who said every one of his hypo patients was alcoholic when they presented. I know that doesn't apply to all, but I think it may well be common. And the other symptoms were staring them in the face.

10 Replies

  • Aspmama,

    It could be your relative's alcoholism which caused hypothyroidism, depression and weight gain.


  • Thanks! V interesting and complex, the key question is obviously does she have antibodies, in which case it is definitely not the cause.

    Fascinating bit where it says alcohol use decreases the risk of autoimmune diseases and one study suggests it can prevent Hashis, at any rate in moderate quantities.

    But if you have Hashis, the impact of heavy drinking and even further lowered T4 and T3 would no doubt heighten the depression and need for the next drink.

    Tests should clearly have been carried out at the beginning and should be part of the work up.

    Obviously both the depression and the weight gain were attributed to her alcoholism by everyone, which is why the diagnosis was not considered.

  • Just from observation of people in the pub over the years, I would say smoking is far more common in people who drink, particularly those who drink a lot.

    In many cases it may be difficult to know what is affecting what when looking at thyroid, alcohol, and smoking.

  • The overlap betweem smoking and drinking may be simply a culture thing, of course. Smoking is not a factor in this case.

  • when i was having tremor.anxiety and panic attacks the first doctor i went to describedme xanax! the second doctor really discovered that it may be a thyroid problem.some doctors dont deserve to be called doctors!

  • I'm suprised it was checked at all. It's much better financially (and for meeting targets) for GPs to prescribe anti-depressants and refer to third-party clinics and "mental health" services than to treat the thyroid.

  • When I was young I drank a lot. I drank to "self medicate". I also ate tons of junk food and drank a lot if coffee. I was tired and anxious because of being tired.

    So to me that something triggered the serie if bad habits and I never recovered even though I reduced coffee, quit drinking alcohol and eating junk food.

    At that time, I now know , I was suffering from chronic yersiniosis which can lead to various different even lethal illnesses like multi organ failure. But it can trigger hypothyroidism as well. I was on a lots of antibiotics because of high fever and tonsillitis which I now know was typical symptom of yersiniosis. I had also had several cortisone injections as my knee was very inflamed.

    So. You never know which was first. For me it was bacteria triggering the unfortunate serie of events leading to self medicating with alcohol.

  • My GP when I presented with "PND" did do bloods to rule out physiological reasons - but ignored the test results and put me on ADs anyway after trying to convince me that I had a traumatic pregnancy (I didn't).

    GPs need retraining or replacing and I can't see that happening anytime soon...

  • Unfortunately, nowadays doctors don't know any clinical symptoms (doctors before the 60's knew them all and treated patients with NDT).


    Some people when feeling low desire chocolate, go shopping, or some other 'treat' and a few may take alcohol but don't realise that alcohol in particular can become habitual in that it lifts your spirits - and you're happy but when the sensations disappear you may be left with the desire to create the nice feelings again and it becomes a habit instead of an occasional pleasure. Also many doctors diagnose a hypothyroid person as 'depressed' and prescribe another medication when in reality the person might need their dose increased and not kept 'somewhere in the range' as many doctors believe is correct..

  • I wonder if doctors nowadays literally don't like the hands on approach and prefer to diagnose by the impersonal machine figures? Just a thought but some time ago when so many were wanting to try T3 then it wasn't contemplated for a thyroid sufferer but I understand it was happily given to depressed people which does rather suggest being hypo was the root of their problem.

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