Anxiety and Depression are Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Author: Ivy Garza, PharmD, RPh

Anxiety and Depression are Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Do you often feel down and blue? Are you filled with anxiety? Everything may seem to be going well in your life, so you are wondering why you feel this way. Depression and anxiety are experienced by many people, and often a common underlying cause is overlooked: hypothyroidism. Research shows that people with depression, anxiety and psychiatric problems often have low levels of thyroid hormone.

Thyroid hormone governs your body’s metabolism and energy production. Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when either your thyroid gland isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone for your body’s needs, or you are producing enough thyroid hormone but it isn’t being used efficiently at the cellular level. This causes your body to slow down, lose energy and experience a wide range of negative health symptoms. Without adequate levels of thyroid hormone and its proper utilization, symptoms such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, brain fog and poor concentration become increasingly prevalent.

Anxiety and Depression are Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Thyroid hormone has important actions in the adult brain. Varying degrees of psychiatric symptoms and disorders are common in patients with thyroid dysfunction, in both hypo- and hyper-thyroidism. Thyroid dysfunction has been recognized to cause significant manifestations in mental health. It may lead to disturbances in emotions and cognition. Both increase and decrease in thyroid function can cause mood abnormalities.

Hypothyroidism results in a slowdown of cellular metabolism, which causes a drop in levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutric acid (GABA). GABA has a calming effect, which prevents the brain from being overwhelmed by stimulation. Low levels of GABA are linked to anxiety, panic attacks and mood swings. Research demonstrates that anxiety is common in patients with thyroid dysfunction. At the other end of the spectrum, too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can also bring on anxiety and panic attacks.

Psychiatric manifestations usually appear first in cases of hypothyroidism. They form about 2–12% of the initial symptoms in about all of the reported cases. Initially, it starts with anxiety, memory lapses, progressive mental slowing, and speech deficits. In cases of acute hypothyroidism, anxiety disorders occur in about 30–40% of patients. Symptoms will improve with the treatment of hypothyroidism.

A decrease in GABA levels has also been found in patients with major depression. Patients with hypothyroidism had significantly lower GABA levels compared with healthy individuals. GABA, the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human brain, plays a crucial role in various physiological functions. In particular, changes in brain GABA have been demonstrated in a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders including depression, Alzheimer’s, dementia and schizophrenia.

The association between depression and thyroid function is well known. Even mild cases of hypothyroidism can cause depression. Patients can also have anxiety, irritability, poor concentration, slow information processing and poor learning.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Are you wondering if you could have hypothyroidism? Besides anxiety and depression, take a look at some other common symptoms of low thyroid function:

• Loss of energy (malaise/fatigue)
• Difficulty losing weight
• Weight gain
• Fluid retention
• Enlarged tongue with teeth indentations
• Cold extremities and cold sensitivity
• Cold intolerance
• Difficulty concentrating and short-term memory loss
• Muscle pain and cramps
• Joint pain
• Tiredness after a full night’s sleep
• Recurrent and chronic infections
• Decreased mental sharpness, “brain fog”
• Hair loss
• Dry skin
• Brittle fingernails with ridging
• Low basal body temperature
• Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
• Mood swings
• Constipation
• Menstrual irregularities
• Headaches
• Enlarged thyroid gland

If you have any of these symptoms of low thyroid function, you owe it to yourself to get evaluated for hypothyroidism. These could be an indicator that your anxiety and depression could be caused by hypothyroidism.

Conventional Approach to Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are often treated by conventional doctors with anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, however these medications only attempt to mask your symptoms without solving the reason you have them in the first place. These drugs also come with many negative side effects.
*Never stop an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication cold turkey. You must work with your doctor to wean off of it slowly and safely, or you could experience dangerous, even life-threatening side effects.

Natural Solution for Anxiety and Depression Caused by Hypothyroidism

By addressing the underlying cause, you can get relief of your symptoms. Thyroid hormones play an important role in mood and behavior. If you have been suffering from anxiety or depression, then find out if hypothyroidism could be the underlying cause. Supplementing with bioidentical compounded T3/T4 or natural desiccated thyroid can help support your thyroid function and improve your symptoms.

To find out more about how compounded thyroid medication can benefit you, or to order a refill of your thyroid, contact Physicians Preference Pharmacy today at 281-828-9088. It will be our privilege to serve you!


Prevalence of Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms Among Patients with Hypothyroidism
Investigation of Brain GABA+ in Primary Hypothyroidism Using Edited Proton MR Spectroscopy