Why Your Thyroid Condition Is Making You Depressed
Have you ever noticed you feel gloomy or unmotivated when your thyroid condition is flaring up? It’s not all in your head. Thyroid conditions can cause symptoms of depression.
Why can thyroid issues lead to depression?
Depression is a typical symptom of a hypothyroid condition. Because your body is slowing down from the lack of thyroid hormones, your nervous system slows as well. This can affect brain function, including how you think and feel.
However, depression can also be a symptom for those with hyperthyroid conditions. The body is in overdrive, using up all of the resources and overloading the nervous system. This can lead to depressive symptoms when the nervous system ‘burns out’.
Both conditions include an element of inflammation, particularly if they have an autoimmune element. The most recent research into depression has found that inflammation is often much higher in people with depression.
If the brain is inflamed, it can destroy the connections between our brain cells and cause depression. So this could be another way that thyroid issues contribute to depression.
Because depression and thyroid issues share so many signs and symptoms, it’s easy for doctors to overlook the thyroid and assume depression. Some of the symptoms they share include:
Longer sleep time and a greater need for sleep
Feeling flat and unmotivated
In many cases, you can have both conditions – the symptoms might be caused by your thyroid, but feeling that way all the time leads to you feeling worse and developing depression.
Many cases of depression that are not responsive to anti-depressant medications or counselling are at least partly due to thyroid issues. Because the root cause is not in the brain or the way that you think, the usual treatment methods are only addressing some of the symptoms.
Even if your depression is not caused by your thyroid condition, optimising your thyroid hormone levels can help. This gets the hormones into the brain and supportive tissues, which can get you feeling a bit better.
How to deal with thyroid-induced depression
So now you know how the thyroid is affecting your symptoms of depression. But what can you actually do about it? Let’s take a look at some steps to help get you feeling good again.
Fuel your thyroid
If your depression is at least partly due to your thyroid, it makes sense to start by addressing your thyroid! This means making sure your thyroid has the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Some thyroid nutrients also play a role in processes in the brain, so it’s twice as essential to get them in!
To learn more about thyroid nutrients and how to include them, have a read of this article.
Eat a brain-friendly diet
Just like your thyroid, we want to make sure that your brain is getting the fuel it thrives off to minimise your symptoms.
What does that look like? Plenty of nutrient-dense wholefoods! You want to fill your plate with foods like fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, eggs, seafood and grass-fed meats.
Caffeine, processed sugars and alcohol are a no-no for your brain. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which might feel good at first, but can leave you feeling flat afterwards. Processed sugars cause blood sugar fluctuations that affect your mood. Alcohol is a known depressant for the body.
Take care of your gut health
But we now know that our gut is a second brain. Many of the anti-depressant brain chemicals such as serotonin, GABA and dopamine are produced in the gut. The gut is also the root of inflammation for many people.
For some tips to get your gut healthy and happy again, check out this article.
Find ways to cope when symptoms flare
It’s great to work on long-term solutions for your depression. But you also need tools handy for when things get tough. The good news is that there are ways to do both at the same time – with some simple habits.
Some great habits that help manage depression include:
Exercise (even if it’s a gentle walk around the block each day!)
Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing
Spending time in nature (especially if it’s sunny outside)
Spending time with loved ones
Any hobbies that you enjoy
Seek professional support
If you are struggling to cope with your symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help or call an emergency line such as Lifeline. If you feel like you just need a little bit of support, you might also consider the support groups that are available.
Balancing your thyroid hormone levels can be a game-changer for your symptoms – including depression. If you’re ready to leave depression at the door and get a tailored treatment plan to get you back on track, book an appointment with Tara here.