Thyroid UK

Hypothyroidism and Mental Illness

Just wondering... if your thyroid was so low (either from undiagnosed hypothyroidism or being on the wrong type/dose of medication for many years) what kind of mental illness would this cause? What symptoms would you be showing? ....are we talking mild depression symptoms or full on schizophrenic ones? ..Its just that alot of people will have different ideas of what they consider 'mental illness', so I'm not clear what is meant when it's said that in studies/symptom guides etc that 'Hypothyroidism can causes mental illness and psychosis'?

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Hi Katilea, it's a bit of a mine field really! Undiagnosed and even ineffectively treated Hypothyroidism which results in lack of thyroid hormone production can affect practically every bodily function, including the brain in one way or another, not merely slow down the metabolism.

Mental health conditions, like bipolar and schizophrenia are issues that respond to medication, but still difficult to diagnose as the brain is not as straight forward in it's function as something like a liver or kidney, and can change considerably over time. A lot of people do not have a "mental health" condition as such, but suffer emotional disorders such as generalised anxiety, depression etc from psychologic damage and even inherited tendency and/or physiological illness such as hypothyroidism. It's a fine line and one often worsens the other.

It's clear from the posts on here and reports that our mental wellbeing can be severely, affected by thyroid issues, and often Hashimoto's or autoimmune thyroiditis can be caused by stress, which in itself can cause mental health issues so it's a vicious circle, and how much to attribute to the thyroid issues is difficult (impossible?) to confirm, but it definitely is a factor.

My own experience is large swings between high anxiety, confidence and energy, then crashing into depression, no motivation and depression. I'm only now understanding that antibodies attacking my thyroid can cause all of these symptoms, and I almost got a diagnosis of bipolar, a mental health problem after I reported an adverse reaction to an antidepressant. I read cases where people had been wrongly given a bipolar diagnosis but their issues were undiagnosed thyroid problems so it obviously can cause major issues with brain function, the disease is so poorly understood (certainly by many GPs in the UK)

I'm sure others will be able to post relevant links to research and reports which explain things better than I can. I

I'm still suffering low mood, energy and motivation despite having probably got the maximumgamount of T4 replacement hormone available in my blood, as I've probably got a problem with my body converting it into the T3 hormone which is the one the body (and brain) needs to function, and a lot of others still don't feel well on the standard UK T4 treatment and have benefitted from direct dosing of T3.

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Katilea,

Mental illness due to untreated or undertreated hypothyroidism may range from mild depression to full blown psychosis and patients have been misdiagnosed with bipolar disease and other psychotic illnesses.

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I was diagnosed with dementia, probably of the Alzheimer's variety, just over 12 years ago after a prolonged fight to try and get my thyroid problems resolved. However when I finally sorted out that I needed T3 treatment only and started with T3 treament, my dementia actually improved significantly. I still have problems with memory loss and processing problems especially with numbers but I'm still here and still functioning ok after 12 years. There still has been some decline and if I forget my T3 medication the dementia becomes obvious. My Dementia specialist has changed his diagnosis to Hypothyroidal dementia because of the obvious link to my thyroid problems.

Heather

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If you want to know what happens in people with untreated hypothyroidism that has gone on for a long time, there is this very old article (1949) from the BMJ that you can read :

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

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