Are Depression and Hypothyroidism Connected?
Since depression and hypothyroidism will often present the same symptoms, it has been theorized that there may be a hidden link between them. As this condition is often a symptom of hypothyroidism, it can literally be a case where they physician has to determine which came first, kind of like the old chicken-and-egg theory.
Most people being treated for depression are simply given antidepressants after the initial diagnosis, without any further testing to see whether or not thyroid hormones may have caused it. All that is required is a simple blood test to determine thyroid hormone levels, but is often not done because the physician has to rely on the reported or obvious symptoms for a diagnosis. An inability to relate to their physician is a huge factor in misdiagnosis of hypothyroidism in favor of depression.
Depression symptoms include fatigue, sleepiness, muscle aches, lethargy and problems with concentration. Its symptoms are almost identical to those of hypothyroidism, but people afflicted with that condition often also have heightened sensitivity to cold, tingling in their fingers and hands, a slower heart rate and constipation. In latter stages of the condition, they may also develop hoarseness, unexplained weight gain, joint pain, and overall aches and pain, other symptoms that can also be diagnosed as depression.
In cases where the patient was initially diagnosed with depression, and later found to have hypothyroidism, the antidepressants they were initially prescribed were actually helped by the later thyroid hormone replacement therapy. The hormones actually increased the effectiveness of the antidepressants, helping to relieve that condition faster. This was especially true of cyclic antidepressants, once the underlying thyroid condition was being treated.
These kinds of misdiagnosis could be avoided altogether if patients were more open with their physicians, especially women. Not only are the symptoms of both conditions normally attributed to those discussed, they can just as easily be attributed to aging and the beginnings of menopause.
If you honestly believe that there may be something else wrong, or even if you are just curious to see if there might be another cause for your symptoms, talk to your doctor. That is what they are there for, to help you.
If it turns out that the depression is not linked to any other condition, then your doctor can get you the treatment you need that much faster, once other possibilities have been ruled out. You may be running an unnecessary risk to your health if you are being treated with the wrong medication for the wrong condition.