Thyroid and Mental Health

I have treated hundreds of people over the years struggling with mood disorders.  It is of the utmost importance that the etiology of these disorders be brought to light during the initial assessment of the client/patient. To diagnose depression, for instance; we look for vegetative symptoms like fatigue, poor sleep, poor appetite or increased appetite, tearfulness, sadness and lacking joy of life. We determine when the depression started and a family history indicating any occurrence of mood disorders within the client/patient’s family of origin. While assessing an anxiety disorder we would look for symptoms such as unusual nervousness, worry, irritability, fearfulness and restlessness.


Since hypothyroidism affects millions of people in the America, it is often the issue affecting the client/patient. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive and consequently does not produce the metabolism regulation and it indirectly affects every cell, tissue and organ in the body – including the brain.

According to a Harvard Health Publication of Harvard Medical School, (July 2011), an underactive thyroid can cause symptoms similar to depression, such as, low mood, fatigue, weight gain, reduced sexual desire and trouble concentrating. Dr. Michael Miller, Editor in Chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, notes that treatment for hypothyroidism usually involves taking medication once a day to restore thyroid hormone levels to normal.  Left untreated, hypothyroidism can even cause even more severe mental illness.

Another thyroid disorder is hyperthyroidism which is caused by an overactive thyroid. These clients/patients often come to therapy exhibiting symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

In an article from Healthline.com, it was noted that hyperthyroidism has its own negative consequences.


According to an interesting finding by Dr. Christiane Northrup, MD, approximately 26 percent of all women in or near perimenopause are diagnosed with some kind of thyroid dysfunction. An over active thyroid can cause panic attacks, heart palpitations and anxiety. (Healthline.com, Magnolia Miller, Published Jan 24, 2013)


Lastly, if you are experiencing any of the before-mentioned symptoms, please do not hesitate to discuss your concerns with your physician. Obviously, finding a proper diagnosis is a complicated process, often taking a considerable amount of time to determine.

Barbara Clayton Price, MSW, LMSW, ACSW, CHT                                      Barbaraclaytonprice.com