The thyroid gland is a small organ, but it has a big impact.
Some symptoms of thyroid dysfunction are similar to those seen in depression or anxiety. Symptoms that are most commonly related to hypothyroidism include forgetfulness, fatigue, mental slowness and inattention and mood swings, with depression being the predominant disorder experienced.2 Anxiety, irritability, dysphoria, mood swings and impairment in concentration are the typical psychiatric symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism.1 Loss of libido may also be associated in hyperthyroidism.3
Know the facts
About 60% of people with hyperthyroidism present with anxiety disorders, and 31–69% with depressive disorders.1 Depression frequently occurs in hypothyroidism too, where 40% of patients are said to suffer from some form of it.2
One to four percent of patients with mood disorders have hypothyroidism, and subclinical hypothyroidism occurs in 4–40% of these patients.1 This is why the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Thyroid Association recommend that: “The diagnosis of subclinical or overt hypothyroidism must be considered in every patient with depression.”1
Treatment of mood disorders
If you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, then you are likely to develop forms of anxiety and depression.1 If your thyroid gland is underactive then you will be prone to becoming depressed.2 The good news is that, in most patients, mood disorders and cognitive issues disappear after successful treatment of their thyroid disease.2,4 If you have hypothyroidism then you will probably be given medication and it will usually take some weeks until your thyroid function returns to normal.5 If you have hyperthyroidism then you will be treated with one of the following options: anti-thyroid drugs, radioactive iodine therapy or removal of part of or the whole thyroid gland.5 Once thyroid hormone levels are in the normal range, most patients find that their anxiety and depression are resolved.2
Date of preparation: February 2022