How does your thyroid affect your mood?

Effects of the thyroid on the psyche

As small as the thyroid organ may be, its influence on the body is great. The hormones produced there not only influence organic processes such as the heart, circulation, digestion or growth, but also activate the metabolism of nerve cells and brain activity. Thus, the thyroid gland also has a significant influence on the psyche and the emotional balance of the person.

What do psyche and thyroid have to do with each other?

Both the underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and the overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) are linked to psychological symptoms. Both functional disorders lead to an impairment of the quality of life. If the mental equilibrium is disturbed, this has a significant effect on physical well-being. The spectrum of symptoms is extremely diverse.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

In the case of hyperthyroidism, there are simply too many hormones in the control loop. This can have a significant impact on everyday life. Affected people are often nervous or aggressive, they are irritable, anxious or extremely jumpy. They find it difficult to relax, sweat quickly, have trouble sleeping, palpitations or atrial fibrillation. Often the patients also shiver badly. Many complain of diarrhea, severe weight loss, fatigue and weakness.

These symptoms, like sweating, can easily be mistaken for signs of menopause. In addition, only very mildly pronounced functional disorders of the thyroid gland can be accompanied by an increased sense of fear. In the worst case, psychosis also occurs, and if the diagnosis is incorrect, the person is referred to a psychiatric ward.

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Hypothyroidism symptoms

In the case of an underactive thyroid, those affected often complain of depressive moods, apathy, rapid exhaustion, tiredness and difficulty concentrating. The emotional state can be very fluctuating and in extreme cases can range from delusions to suicidal thoughts. Physical symptoms of underactive thyroid include weight gain, slow heartbeat, slow reflexes, and decreased libido.

Since hypothyroidism often develops very slowly and insidiously, the symptoms are easily overlooked and the diagnosis is usually made late. In addition, hypothyroidism - usually as a result of autoimmune thyroiditis Hashimoto's type - becomes more and more common with age, which is why the symptoms are often incorrectly assigned to age. After the age of 60, around two percent of the population suffer from an underactive thyroid.

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Post partum thyroiditis

Another risk group are women after the birth of a child. Around four percent develop what is known as postpartum thyroiditis with increased thyroid antibody levels and functional disorders of the thyroid gland due to the hormonal changes after delivery. These can be accompanied by depression. In the case of persistent exhaustion and severe mood swings, the thyroid gland should therefore also be considered as a possible cause.

Experts have also shown a seasonal relationship between depressive disorders and thyroid function. It is not just mood swings that are more common in autumn and winter. The production of thyroid hormones is also subject to seasonal fluctuations.

In the case of severe mood swings and other symptoms, the thyroid gland should therefore always be considered as a trigger. Patients with mental health problems should definitely have an examination whether their symptoms have organic causes. Timely and correct treatment can save those affected from a long journey of suffering. Thyroid dysfunction is one of the curable diseases. With the right attitude towards hormone replacement preparations, mental processes can definitely return to normal.

A normalization of the thyroid values ​​usually leads to a rapid resolution of the symptoms and to an improvement in psychological well-being.

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AUTHOR: Prof. Dr. med. Hans Udo Zieren