Experts dismiss links between subclinical hypothyroidism and incident depression

Experts dismiss links between subclinical hypothyroidism and incident depression

Hypothyroidism, a condition where the production of thyroid hormone is below normal, has been always associated with depression. According to the Health Information Center of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), nearly 4.6 percent of the American population aged 12 and older suffer from hypothyroidism. This implies that almost five people out of 100 are afflicted by the condition, even if the severity is mild.  Therefore, the functioning of the thyroid is related to the psychological well-being of the people. In fact, many experts have highlighted a striking similarity in the symptoms of both depression and hypothyroidism.

Medically, the condition is a concern, as it leads to several other disorders, such as autoimmune disorders (e.g. type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, etc.), thyroid removal, pituitary diseases, iodine deficiency, etc. The condition is generally characterized by symptoms like increased cholesterol levels, depression, fatigue, hair loss, memory loss, dry and rough skin, constipation, etc.

However, there also exists a condition known as subclinical hypothyroidism wherein those afflicted by this condition do not exhibit any symptoms. Since depression is one of the characteristic symptoms of hypothyroidism, experts have wondered about any association between subclinical hypothyroidism and incident depression, a condition characterized by two visits of negative depression screening test followed by two visits of positive test.

Understanding the association between subclinical hypothyroidism and depression

In order to understand the relationship between subclinical hypothyroidism and depression, a group of researchers conducted a study on middle-aged adults. The prospective cohort study included around 220,545 middle-aged adults without depression who underwent at least two comprehensive health exams between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2014. During the study, the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free triiodothyronine (FT3) and free thyroxin (FT4) were measured using an electrochemiluminescent immunoassay (ECLIA).

As per the result, a median follow-up of 2 years recorded incident depressive symptoms in nearly 7,323 participants. Moreover, the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for incident depressive symptoms comparing subclinical hypothyroid to euthyroid participants was 0.97 (0.87 to 1.09). Similarly, researchers found no relationship between thyroid hormone levels and increased risk of incident depressive symptoms among euthyroid participants (n = 87,822). Owing to the findings, the researchers concluded, “There was no apparent association between subclinical hypothyroidism and incident depressive symptoms in a large prospective cohort of middle-aged men and women.”

Depression imperils one’s life

Depression is not just about experiencing a feeling of sadness. In fact, as a condition, it is much severe and complex in nature. As a debilitating psychiatric disorder, it causes loss of energy, diminished interest in the activities once enjoyed, and disconnection from the society and family. It can also lead to suicidal thoughts and tendencies. The condition is characterized by the persistent feeling of sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, worthlessness and despair. Probably, this is why the disorder is often confused with general sadness. However, depression is a serious mental disorder, which can grow worse if not treated on time.

Identifying depression is not possible only by looking at the symptoms. Due to similarities, many ignore depression as mere sadness. Many tend to indulge in self-medication by misunderstanding their sadness as depression, which does more harm than good. Therefore, one should never self-medicate himself or herself using alcohol, illicit drugs or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines due to the increased risk of developing an addiction.

Instead, it is always advisable to seek professional help and undergo a clinical assessment conducted by a licensed practitioner to accurately determine the presence of depression. The medical diagnosis is further necessary to identify the severity, type and duration of the depression. It is essential to have a proper understanding of these factors to determine the most effective method of treatment.

Seeking help

Depression can be treated using medications, therapies or a combination of both, depending on the requirements of every patient. Additionally, a few lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy, maintaining a healthy sleep pattern, practicing yoga and meditation, and exercising regularly, can help in expediting the recovery process. Such changes when done along with the medical treatment hasten the recovery process.

If you or your loved one is suffering from depression, you can seek help from the Arizona Depression Helpline. Call at our 24/7 number 866-233-3895 or chat online to speak to our experts regarding the depression rehab centers near you and different depression treatment programs in Arizona.