Could my thyroid be causing depression?

Hi All,

My 1st post here and I'm so glad to have found a community that can hopefully help me understand what's going on.

To keep it as short as possible, I was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid 2 years ago. I am 34 years old and have a 5 and 3 year old. My GP suggested that pregnancy may have triggered it. Anyway, I started on 50mg Levothyroxine, but still felt completely shattered all the time, so it was increased to 75mg. I still feel awful CONSTANTLY and it's now getting to the point where I am irritable, tearful, have headaches daily, am suffering with stress and anxiety and pretty much always feel like going to sleep.

I've had bouts of insomnia throughout the course of taking Levothyroxine, but only when I took it at night. Now I take it in the morning I sleep fairly well but no amount of sleep seems to help with the fatigue. Sometimes while driving I have to pull over as my eyes feel so incredibly heavy that I worry about my safety.

I have very little faith in the GPs I've seen as all they say is that it must be down to my busy lifestyle (working Mom, 2 young kids etc) but plenty of other women are in the same position and don't feel like this surely!?

Does it sound like I maybe need my dosage increasing?

Thanks in advance for any comments x

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8 Replies

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  • JayneyH82 Depression can be a symptom of Hypothyroidism.

    75mcg Levo is quite a low dose. Do you have your latest thyroid test results? If not, ask your surgery for a print out. You are legally entitled to them under the Data Protection Act. Make sure you get the reference ranges too, they're often in brackets at the side of the result.

    Post all your results with their ranges and members will help.

  • Thank you SeasideSusie for the quick reply - I will call my surgery in the morning and ask for them. Blood test results confuse the hell out of me, and at the moment my head is so foggy anyway I've got no chance without help!

    I was thinking of asking to be referred to an Endocrinologist but I imagine that GP's are reluctant to do so.

  • Jayney - if you can get to your surgery easily, tell them you will pick up the print out.

    Reason is if you are just told the results over the phone, you are not going to be sure you are given accurate results. Receptionists don't always understand the results and mistakes can be made when given verbally. Much better to have a print out so you know they will be totally accurate and all the information will be there.

    They will look something like

    TSH: 2.5 (0.20-4.20)

    FT4: 15 (12-22)

    FT3: 4.0 (3.1-6.8)

    TPO antibodies: 11 (<34)

    Ranges are important as they vary from lab to lab.

    If you have any vitamin and mineral results that would be helpful too, particularly

    Vit D

    B12

    Folate

    Ferritin

    Some GPs are more reluctant than others to refer to an endo, some endos won't see patients whose results they deem to be 'normal'. To be honest, the collective knowledge of members of the forum is way above anything most doctors and endos know, so post your results and members can offer guidance.

  • Are you aware that blood tests for thyroid hormones should be at the earliest possible, fasting (you can drink water) and allow 24 hours gap between last dose of levo and test. This helps keeps the TSH at its highest and may prevent unnecessary adjustment by doctor to try to keep TSH somewhere in the range. They should concentrate more on relieving symptoms than the TSH.

    Hypo is usually looked upon as 'easy' to treat by GPs but even Endos aren't always the best to help us to relieve clinical symptoms.

  • Yes, this is one more confirmation - depression CAN be a physiological effect of the hormonal imbalance; it happened to me, I have recognized it and addressed it by changing the hormone replacement therapy. Nevertheless, in my case there was also a psychological cause pushing towards a depressive state but all in all I've considered it a good opportunity to approach it.

    Basically I have understand that the depression was not caused by psychological effect when I have realized that "normal" me would have no reason to "bend" like that under same circumstances and wouldn't have, if all constant.

  • Your story sounds like mine except for children. Once I realised how awful it was I am so thankful to my husband for putting up with me.

    I am sure my episodes of depression were caused by underactive thyroid. While antidepressants seemed to help somewhat, there were still odd feelings of numbness, confusion, fatigue and underlying anxiety. My psychiatrist was the one to believe me hypo theory and after testing he put me on levo. Once I started with thyroid meds I saw a difference in my mood in about 8 weeks. I had weaned myself off of antidepressants and it was a bit scary, side effects were pretty nasty. AD isn't supposed to be addictive yet it felt like I was addicted. I was afraid that maybe the symptoms will return because I didn't follow the recommended treatment cycle, which for me would have been minimum 2 years. So far so good.

    I also take 5-htp and melatonin or tryptophan for sleep.

  • When people are untreated or under-treated for hypothyroidism their bodies have to substitute for the missing thyroid hormones with cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones) - and it isn't a terribly good substitute. It is the low thyroid hormones and the excess cortisol and adrenaline which causes the feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. There are some people whose bodies aren't good at doing the substitution, and they suffer from the lack of stress hormones. Neither an excess or a deficiency of cortisol and adrenaline is easy to cope with.

    In many cases the levels of cortisol and adrenaline go back to normal once someone gets their thyroid hormone levels optimised. If they don't then life gets more difficult and complicated. But you can cross that bridge if necessary at a later date.

    There are several other factors that increase stress levels, which then has a knock on effect on the body's ability to make and/or use thyroid hormones. These are :

    1) Having low nutrient levels.

    2) Exercising too much. This uses up T3 (some of the body's store of T3 come from the thyroid, some comes from conversion of T4 to T3 in other body tissues). And if your levels are too low to begin with you may run out of T3 and every cell in the body suffers. Save the strenuous exercise for when you are better. Instead just do things which aren't so strenuous. E.g. gentle walking, slow swimming, yoga etc.

    3) Missing meals and restricting calories. People cut their food intake because they gain weight with hypothyroidism. But missing meals and restricting calories stresses the body, and reduces the body's ability to make T3 - something which is a precious resource when thyroid hormone levels are too low. Having low T3 cuts the metabolic rate and makes people gain weight even faster. So don't do it. Eat as well as possible, and make sure that the diet includes plenty of healthy fats.

    With regard to nutrients, getting these up to optimal is very important. Most of us start by optimising vitamin B12, folate, ferritin (iron stores) and iron, and vitamin D. Then move on to other nutrients.

    thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/treatm...

    If you get nutrient levels checked for the things listed above, we can give you suggestions on what you should be supplementing, and how much.

  • 75mcg is still a starter dose

    Do u have copies of your blooď tests (your legally entitled to them )

    Have

    Ferritin

    Folate

    B12

    Vit d3

    Been tested bcos usually its bcos these are below halfway and thus your body cannot convert the t4 in levo into the vital t3 your body cells need to function

    Make very very sure that any blood test is very early morning and fasting

    And never never take levothyroxine in the previous 24 hours

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