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Hypothyroidism and Depression Connection

depressive woman, low key monochromatic portrait of sad adult female in dark room

The thyroid gland is a small part of the body (shaped like a butterfly) that releases the hormone that affects how energy is being utilized in the body, among many other processes.

The thyroid gland helps control the body temperature, maintains the rate at which your body uses carbohydrates and fats, in the regulation of protein production, influence the heart rate, and in everything related to your body metabolism. Hypothyroidism is the condition that takes place when the organ is unable to produce enough thyroid juice.

While the body goes through several hormonal changes, hypothyroidism can cause the body functions to slow down at an alarming rate. These patients experience slower metabolic rates and lose some amount of body weight, mostly due to the accumulation of water and salt in the body. It upsets the normal balance of chemical reactions in your body.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

When the thyroid gland is unable to produce hormones, it leads to the disturbance of the chemical reactions in your body, therefore messing the chemistry of your body. There are a number of causes of hypothyroidism, such as radiation therapy, autoimmune diseases, hyperthyroidism treatment, thyroid surgery, etc.

Symptoms and Signs of Hypothyroidism

This disorder is fairly common. About 12% of people experience abnormal thyroid function at some point in their lives. Women are more likely to be victims of a thyroid disorder than men. Also, this problem increases with age, thereby affecting adults more than children. Some common symptoms are feeling tired all the time, gaining weight, feeling cold, weakness and pain in the joints and muscles, hair loss, dry and itchy skin, trouble remembering or concentrating, constipation, and a lot more!


Depression is also referred to as a major depressive disorder. It is a common medical sickness that can affect the way you think, feel, and act negatively. It causes a feeling of grief or/and loss of interest in an activity you once loved and enjoyed.

Depression can lead to a wide array of physical and emotional problems and may affect the person’s ability at home or work. Some symptoms of depression include loss of interest, feeling sad, trouble sleeping, feeling worthless, suicidal thoughts, difficulty concentrating, etc.

The connection between Hypothyroidism and Depression

Although both are separate illnesses, depression is a symptom of hypothyroidism as well. These two conditions are so similar that doctors often get confused and may overlook the possibility that the person suffering from depression might be having low thyroid levels. Rapid changes in the thyroid gland can often lead to uncontrolled emotions, generally treatable with adequate thyroid treatment.

According to studies, the relation between depression and the thyroid function has long been recognized. Major thyroid problems including both form of the problem, i.e. hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, may tag along various neuropsychiatric indications ranging from anxiety and depression to psychosis.

Both insufficient and excess thyroid hormones can cause abnormalities in mood, counting depression as well. While patients with thyroid disorders are more prone to developing depression and other neuropsychiatric symptoms like anxiety, a depressed person may not necessarily be suffering from thyroid dysfunctions. The mechanism underlying the interaction between depression and hypothyroidism yet remains to be classified and cannot be related yet. The treatment of clinical or subclinical hypothyroidism should be considered with every patient suffering from depression.

Also, researchers studied that the lifetime frequency of depression rate in patients who met the subclinical hypothyroidism was 56%, comparatively higher than those who did not meet the criteria, thereby suggesting that subclinical hypothyroidism may be the threshold for the occurrence of depression.

Also, another research suggested that the depressive symptoms among subclinical hypothyroidism patients were about 2.3 times more than those with normal thyroid functions. From the results, we can say that there is an association between subclinical hypothyroidism, along with psychiatric disorders and an increased anxiety and depression manifestation in subclinical hypothyroidism in correlation to the group that is not suffering from hypothyroidism.

Many people misdiagnose hypothyroidism with a form of psychiatric illness, like depression. Physicians will often describe a person’s TSH blood test within normal range and determine, strictly based on one test result, the person is suffering from depression, which leads to the prescription of antidepressants. These drugs have many negative side effects like suicidal and homicidal tendencies and more depression.

Final Thoughts

Depression is a mental health disease that is forged over years of life development and experiences. But, you cannot say for sure, since depression is also one of the main symptoms of hypothyroidism. Sometimes, many people attribute their depression to thyroid hormone, only to find their thyroid gland is functioning the way it should. You need to get checked and be sure if that is your reason for depression since consuming antidepressants is highly addictive and dangerous.

You need to go to a doctor who can say if you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism or not. Some primary tests of diagnosis include T4 (free thyroxine) tests, iodine tests, and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) tests.

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