The thyroid regulates the body’s metabolic rate and helps the body convert food into the energy it needs. Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, can cause a host of undesirable symptoms, including fatigue, weight gain, inability to lose weight, cold intolerance, and more.

While we often think of the strong effects thyroid hormones have on the body, it’s also important to pay attention to how these hormones affect the brain and the mind. One of the hallmark symptoms of hypothyroidism is “brain fog,” which is an inability to concentrate and thought processes characterized by lack of clarity. Another common symptom of low thyroid function that affects the mind and mood is depression.

Confusing hypothyroidism and depression

Consider common symptoms of depression:

  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Aches and pains
  • Difficulty concentration and memory problems
  • Weight changes, often weight gain

Now consider common symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Aches and pains
  • Difficulty concentration and memory problems
  • Weight gain and inability to lose weight

Notice anything? Both conditions share several key symptoms. This can make it difficult for someone suffering from these symptoms to get a proper diagnosis. Is it actually hypothyroidism causing everything? Or is it “just” depression?

I’ve seen too many people go to the doctor to discuss symptoms like these to be told it’s “all in their head” and walk out of the office with a prescription for antidepressants. I believe strongly that it’s important to treat the cause rather than just the symptoms. The first step is finding out what the cause is.

One way to find out whether depression is a part of hypothyroidism is to have a doctor evaluate your symptoms and clinical history. However, I caution you not to choose a doctor who relies too heavily on blood work, or to rely too heavily on a doctor who only looks at the lab numbers. In my practice, I’ve seen many people with supposedly “normal” numbers on their thyroid panel who nevertheless displayed all the symptoms of hypothyroidism and who respond well to treatment for low thyroid function.

Instead, consider your symptoms. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Loss of the outer edge of the eyebrows
  • Persistent constipation
  • Fluid retention
  • Enlarged tongue
  • Recurring, chronic infections
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Low body temperature (consistently a couple degrees below 98.6)
  • Enlarged thyroid gland

Are you experiencing any of these other symptoms of hypothyroidism? If so, consider treating low thyroid function to treat your depression.

How to treat depression from hypothyroidism naturally

The term “low thyroid,” though commonly used, is actually a little misleading, as it makes it sound like there’s only one thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland actually secretes two separate hormones, namely T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). “Low thyroid” can refer to a condition when either or both of these hormones are lower than optimal.

T3 is the “active” form of the hormone, and it comes not only directly from the thyroid gland but from T4 that converts into T3, too. Although T3 is the “active” form of the hormone, T4 is actually most commonly prescribed by conventional doctors to patients with hypothyroidism. The reason being that by taking T4 instead of the active, more powerful T3 form, the body is allowed to do what it’s supposed to do by converting T4 to T3.

However, one study in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 1999 showed that people with low thyroid function taking combined T3 and T4, instead of just T4, showed more improvement on a half dozen symptoms – including depression.

Unlike conventional doctors, I prefer to prescribe a combination of T3 and T4 since I believe it’s more effective. Also, unlike conventional doctors who prescribe synthetic thyroid hormones like Synthroid and Levoxyl, I prefer desiccated thyroid. It comes from the dried thyroid glands of pigs and contains both T3 and T4. By treating hypothyroidism desiccated thyroid, symptoms like fatigue and depression can dissipate or disappear. I’ve seen it happen many, many times.

Want to explore options to treat your depression and hypothyroidism?

If you believe your depression is occurring along with hypothyroidism, I encourage you to contact us at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center so we can discuss natural alternatives for treatment. We want to help you not only lift yourself out of depression but also go on to thrive and experience a joyful, healthful life! Call us today at 281.698.8698 to talk with one of our wellness consultants.