According to the American Thyroid Association, approximately 20 million Americans have a thyroid condition. However, the majority—60%—of those with thyroid conditions are unaware of their conditions.
Thyroid disorders can affect how hot or cold you feel, cause your weight to fluctuate, and alter your mood. This gland plays such an important role in mental health that many people who have thyroid conditions tend to seek therapy for depression first because they do not suspect something is abnormal with their physical health.
What does the thyroid gland do?
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck. It produces, stores and sends hormones into the bloodstream. These chemicals are responsible for many important functions, such as controlling the speed at which people burn energy and determining how fast the heart beats.
How a thyroid imbalance can affect your mood
Two of the most common thyroid conditions that result in unbalanced hormone levels are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Connections between the thyroid and anxiety, the thyroid and stress, and hypothyroidism and anxiety are well-documented. There is also evidence of a causal relationship between hypothyroidism and depression.
- Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, lack of concentration, difficulty sleeping, reduced motivation, mood swings, a short temper, depression and excessive stress.
- Hyperthyroidism occurs when an overactive thyroid produces too many hormones. Symptoms can include panic attacks, anxiety, tension, sleep disturbances, mood swings, a short temper, and impatience.
Many of these symptoms can affect your mood, and even the physical ones can mimic the symptoms of depression or other mood disorders. While common therapies for thyroid disease often take some time to work, they often alleviate unwanted psychological side effects.
If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your primary care physician at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group. They will listen to your concerns and refer you to an endocrinologist at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group for additional testing and treatment if needed.
British Thyroid Association | How moods and emotions can be affected by your thyroid
Healthline | What’s the Link Between Thyroid Conditions and Depression?
Science Daily | Hypothyroidism Clearly Linked To Mood Swings
American Thyroid Association | General Information/Press Room