A  A  A   Print
Hypothyroidism and Depression

Hypothyroidism and Depression

Chances are you know the difference between occasional sadness and depression. But here's a fact you may not know: Hypothyroidism, a common thyroid disorder, can cause symptoms indistinguishable from depression.

The signs of depression in adults include persistent sadness, reduced pleasure and motivation, low self-esteem, poor concentration and memory, altered sleep and appetite, fatigue, and suicidal thoughts.

An adult experiencing depression may be screened for thyroid disease by his or her doctor.

The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland wraps around the front of your windpipe at the base of your neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism and organ function. But problems arise if your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism).

In hypothyroidism, the thyroid doesn't make enough thyroid hormone. Women over the age of 35, postpartum women, people with Down syndrome, people with other endocrine problems such as diabetes, and older adults are at higher risk for the development of hypothyroidism. Two common causes of hypothyroidism are Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a condition in which the body's immune system attacks the thyroid gland, and treatment of a hyperactive thyroid. Some medications can affect thyroid function, causing hypothyroidism.

Early symptoms of hypothyroidism can be difficult to identify because the symptoms are general, and nonspecific to hypothyroidism. They include always feeling tired, intolerance to cold temperatures, weight gain, constipation, and dry skin. Women of childbearing age may have problems with fertility. If hypothyroidism is not detected and treated in the early stages, other symptoms develop. These include forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating (especially true for elderly people); depression; dry, coarse skin and hair; hoarseness; muscle aches, and weakness. Hashimoto's thyroiditis and other conditions that affect the thyroid can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge, a condition called a goiter.

If you suspect you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, see your doctor for a simple blood test that measures thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH or thyrotropin), which is the most sensitive indicator of thyroid function. 

With hypothyroidism, a pill a day supplies the missing hormones, usually synthetically produced thyroxine. The dosage is adjusted to make the patient “euthyroid,” meaning maintaining a level of thyroid hormone that would be present with a normally functioning thyroid gland. Treatment varies for other thyroid conditions.

Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.