One of my most popular posts at Hypothyroid Mom was a post entitled Mental Disorder or Undiagnosed Hypothyroidism? A reader contacted me soon after the launch of my blog in October 2012 with a story that has haunted me to this day.
I found your blog Hypothyroid Mom and feel a need to contact you directly. I was an energetic successful person and in one year I fell down and literally broke. I was put in a mental health ward because I went days without sleeping, felt so tired I couldn’t function and found myself delusional and couldn’t stop the words running through my head. I was diagnosed bipolar and drugged up with medication. I saw the line of bipolar patients waiting every morning in the psych ward for electric shock therapy. The only thing that saved me from electric shock was my mother yelling NO.
For four years I was drugged up so bad that my mind wasn’t right. I told the psychiatrists and doctors that something wasn’t right with me. From 110 pounds my weight went up to 245. I was so tired, suffered pains from fibromyalgia. My heart rate was pounding at 155 and my blood pressure was through the roof. They just kept telling me I was bipolar and that I was a hypochondriac.
Finally after 4 years of bipolar medications to the max, a close family member was diagnosed with hypothyroidism so my doctor tested me too. I have a family history of thyroid disease. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I’ve suffered so many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism you list on your blog for so many years.
Every single time I attend a bipolar support group I ask everyone if they are hypothyroid and every time half the people raise their hand and the other half have no clue what it is and they don’t know if they have been tested.
This post sparked so much interest that many thyroid sufferers contacted me with their personal horror stories of psychiatric disorders. I can’t stop wondering how many fellow thyroid sufferers are in mental health wards right now being drugged up and given treatments such as electric shock therapy? How many fellow thyroid sufferers reading this post right now are struggling with mental health issues? Is it possible that many of them have been misdiagnosed?
I came across a story shared on several thyroid advocacy Facebook pages including Gena Lee Nolin’s Thyroid Sexy that has upset me for weeks. This woman’s story disturbed me so much that I recently woke in the middle of the night with her on my mind. The body of a renowned “Irish Times” journalist who suffered from thyroid dysfunction was recovered from the Irish Sea. The cause of death was recorded as drowning. This is a must read article - Caroline’s ‘death is, in every sense, tragic’.
One look at the research included in Psychiatric Manifestations of Thyroid Disease on Gena Lee Nolin’s Thyroid Sexy Facebook page will make it tragically clear that thyroid disease has the power to destroy our mental health.
Millions of Thyroid Sufferers
The Thyroid Federation International estimates there are up to 300 million thyroid sufferers worldwide, but over half are presumed to be unaware of their condition. Over 150 million thyroid sufferers worldwide have no idea they suffer from a thyroid condition.
How many of them have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder?
How many of them end up in mental health wards being treated with psychotropic drugs and treatments like electric shock therapy?
How many of them are suicidal?
How many thyroid sufferers suffer mental health issues despite their thyroid treatment?
How many thyroid sufferers on thyroid treatment complain to their doctor about psychiatric symptoms such as depression, manic-depression and anxiety? Instead of looking more closely at the thyroid condition, the doctor insists their thyroid lab test is normal and hands them a prescription for psychotropic drugs.
I don’t know how many. However I worry that there are many thyroid sufferers in this situation, many more than we can imagine.
This is not to suggest that mental health related drugs and treatment are not necessary for many people. They are extremely important and beneficial for many. The issue is that thyroid disease has the power to disturb mental health yet thyroid function is not routinely tested. There should be mandatory thyroid testing for every person displaying mental health symptoms. For individuals diagnosed with thyroid disease who continue to suffer mental health symptoms, a comprehensive investigation is needed to ensure they are being optimally treated.
Is this happening to YOU right now? Are you here reading this? Is this happening to a family member or friend? Get a second, third, fourth even tenth medical opinion until you find a doctor who listens to you – Top 10 Resources To Find a Great Thyroid Doctor in 2013.
In mainstream medicine, doctors rely on one lab test TSH to diagnose and treat thyroid dysfunction. Countless thyroid sufferers have “normal” TSH but they suffer debilitating symptoms including mental health issues. A full thyroid panel should at least include TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3 and Thyroid Antibodies, however all these tests are often NOT done by mainstream doctors. Hmm…
Even when thyroid antibodies for Hashimoto’s are tested and found to be high, mainstream doctors refuse to treat if the TSH is “normal”. Hmm…
The Psychiatric Manifestations of Thyroid Disease on Gena Lee Nolin’s Thyroid Sexy Facebook page included a reference to an interesting article in The Journal of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine:
The mental symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may precede the full-blown, classic picture of hypothyroidism. The psychiatric symptoms include various mental aberrations, depression, irritability, and confusion. Indeed, patients may be mislabeled as having psychotic depression, paranoid schizophrenia, or the manic phase of a manic depressive disorder. The workup must include a thorough evaluation of thyroid function, including tests for auto-antibodies. Patients usually respond favorably to thyroid replacement hormone therapy.
Hashimoto’s disease often comes with ups and downs in TSH like a wild roller coaster ride, with people suffering swings between symptoms of hyperthyroidism (hyperactivity, irritability, inability to sleep) and hypothyroidism (fatigue, depression). These swings back and forth, don’t they sound very similar to the swings in Bipolar Disorder (manic depression)? Hmm…
The standard care for Hashimoto’s sufferers is to wait until the body has attacked enough of the thyroid gland to trigger the TSH to rise above normal and then treat with thyroid drugs. Doctors refuse to treat until the patient’s TSH rises above “normal” yet all the while the body is attacking the thyroid gland and the person is suffering mental health symptoms. Hmm…
The standard care for Hashimoto’s fails to address the autoimmune condition. Doctors fail to consider all the potential underlying issues including gut issues, food allergies, gluten sensitivity, sex hormone imbalances, blood sugar imbalances, adrenal dysfunction, chronic inflammation, selenium deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, and heavy metal toxicity. Is it possible that by addressing the autoimmune condition in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis that the bipolar type symptoms may be resolved? Hmm…
T3 Thyroid Treatment
In mainstream medicine, T4 drugs like Synthroid are the gold standard for treatment of hypothyroidism. Many doctors around the world refuse to prescribe different thyroid drug options including T3 medication and natural desiccated thyroid. Hmm…
The Holtorf Medical Group article Thyroid Dysfunction As Cause of Depression includes research showing the effectiveness of T3 in treating depression and bipolar.
Many depressed and bipolar patients have undiagnosed thyroid dysfunction as the underlying cause or major contributor to their depression that is not detected by standard thyroid tests…
With an understanding of thyroid physiology and associated dysfunctions that is present in depressed patients, it is clear that timed-released T3 supplementation should be considered in all depressed and bipolar patients despite “normal” serum thyroid levels. Additionally, straight T4 should be considered inappropriate and suboptimal therapy for replacement in such patients.
Dr. Kent Holtorf talks here about thyroid tests and treatment errors. He shares a study that showed “T3 was a better anti-depressant than anti-depressants”.
IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE.
Thank you to Hormone Soup for including a link to Hypothyroid Mom in the post Are Women’s Health Issues Being Painted with a Mental Health Brush? Thank you also to ibeefree for including a link to Hypothyroid Mom in her personal story of Hashimoto’s and bipolar in the post Miss Diagnosis.