How does the thyroid affect mood?

They say that all diseases are from nerves. In part, such a statement is true. But it happens, and vice versa, when disturbances in the functioning of certain body systems affect our mood, they can cause, for example, increased irritability or depression. The endocrine system is one of the main regulators of almost all metabolic processes. From the very birth of a person, she has been actively involved in the formation of the central nervous system and the development of intelligence. Can the state of the thyroid gland influence mood and what diseases are its causeless changes “talking” about?

What hormones does the thyroid gland release?

The thyroid gland is similar in shape to a butterfly. It consists of two halves connected by an isthmus located in the front of the neck at the level of the thyroid cartilage. The organ, which at birth weighs within 2 g, and in adulthood reaches an average of 15-20 g, produces hormones that affect the work of almost all body systems. The synthesis of thyroid hormones is under the continuous control of the pituitary (cerebral appendage) and hypothalamus (a small area of ​​the diencephalon). The hormones that can be used to judge the state of the thyroid gland include:   

  • thyroxine (T4) – the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland based on the processing of iodine entering the human body;
  • triiodothyronine (T3), formed by separating one iodine atom from T4, and synthesized by both the thyroid gland and peripheral tissues;
  • thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland and stimulating the production of T3 and T4.   

Pathologies of the endocrine organ cause various disorders in the body, including malfunctions of the central nervous system. It is the nervous system that is one of the first to respond to hormonal disruptions, which leads to sharp mood swings. A person, noticing his slightly inappropriate behavior, drinks sedative pills or, at best, goes to a psychotherapist. A qualified specialist, in turn, can suggest the true cause of mood variability in the thyroid gland and advise the patient to examine it.

How are thyroid and mood related?

Influencing all metabolic processes, thyroid hormones can not only keep them normal, but also slow down or accelerate. Accordingly, disturbances in the functioning of the central nervous system are accompanied by changes in mood: a depressed state with a slow metabolism and increased nervousness with an accelerated one. A person can cause excessive tearfulness, hypertrophied sensitivity, anxiety, aggression, and other manifestations unusual for a particular situation for no reason.

Diseases of the thyroid gland can cause weakness, increased fatigue, sleep problems and many other symptoms that are usually attributed to fatigue. Often their symptoms acquire the so-called “masks” of various diseases. With external manifestations of disorders from different systems of the body, a person goes to a therapist, neurologist, cardiologist and other specialists. In this case, the patient does not even suspect that an endocrinologist can find the cause of poor health. 

Interestingly, women are more prone to thyroid disease and respond more quickly to any changes in the hormonal background. Throughout life, women themselves experience the interconnection of hormones and moods. Menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and lactation, as well as the period of menopause – all this affects the overall emotional state. It is clear that a quick-tempered character or, conversely, a calm one is not always a sign of hormonal disruptions. But sudden changes in mood, significant changes in behavior for no apparent reason should alert and become an occasion to contact a specialist.

Lack and excess of thyroid hormones

The increased content of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) indicates hyperactivity of the thyroid gland. The more hormones in the blood, the faster the body spends energy. Against the background of such changes, hyperthyroidism, otherwise referred to as thyrotoxicosis, develops. Its symptoms are:

  • cardiopalmus;
  • sleep problems, expressed in insomnia or frequent awakenings, accompanied by feelings of anxiety;
  • weight loss observed with increased appetite;
  • menstrual irregularities in which bleeding is rather scarce and rarely occurs;
  • increased irritability and nervousness;
  • constant feeling of heat and hypertrophic sweating, etc.

With hyperthyroidism, a person, as they say, is constantly “on the platoon,” and cannot control his emotions. 

The exact opposite symptoms are observed with a persistent lack of thyroid hormones called hypothyroidism. These include:

  • fatigue and constant drowsiness;
  • weight gain while maintaining a normal appetite;
  • intolerance to low temperatures and a feeling of chills;
  • depressive states that develop due to inhibition of the central nervous system.

With hypothyroidism, all processes in the body slow down. In humans, heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure decrease.

Both deficiency and excess of thyroid hormones pose a health hazard. Without timely treatment, hypothyroidism can lead to heart failure, and hyperthyroidism to a thyrotoxic crisis.

How to keep thyroid healthy?

People predisposed to thyroid disease, pregnant women, older men and women should be regularly examined by an endocrinologist. Do not forget that for the normal synthesis of thyroid hormones, the body needs to receive a sufficient amount of iodine daily. Therefore, you should protect your health and plan your diet correctly, including iodine-containing foods.    

Expert Commentary

Yuri Poteshkin, Ph.D., endocrinologist at Atlas Medical Center

It is believed that hormones affect mood. Even there is such a famous expression: “Hormones play.” You must understand that the mood of a person, of course, depends on the level of his hormones. So, for example, thyrotoxicosis (hyperfunction of the thyroid gland) leads to irritability, sometimes to short temper or to constantly bad mood, tearfulness. A person with such a disease is not at all easy to communicate with, but he himself does not feel himself like that.

You must also understand that the behavior depends on what kind of character the patient has: thyroxine only enhances the behavioral characteristics of a person, its effect depends on the source data. In such cases, people can turn to both an endocrinologist and a psychiatrist. However, in our country there is such an opinion: if a person is a bit strange, they send him to the endocrinologist for a start. The doctor, in the first place, believes that if the patient does not cope with the control of his behavior, then this is due to the pathology of the endocrine system, for example, with thyrotoxicosis. But often there is no pathology, but you need to go to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist to deal with mental organization.

There is no culture of referring to psychiatrists in Russia – a legacy of the Soviet system of “punitive psychiatry”. But this is already in the past, there is a smooth process of improving the image of psychiatry: there is an understanding that these are doctors who solve the problems of “gentle mental organization” of those who turned to them. And it works.

Shurdumova Bella Olegovna, chief physician, therapist, endocrinologist of the Eurasian Clinic EA CLINIC

The lifestyle of a modern person in a metropolis implies the presence of stress, and as a result, a bad mood, fatigue, irritability, and tearfulness. Various kinds of endocrine diseases, and, first of all, thyroid diseases, can also lead to all these symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to understand the cause of your ailment in time.

Excess or deficiency of thyroid hormones leads to changes in mood and general condition. Violations of the thyroid gland easily turn a self-confident and balanced person into an aggressor who can break down due to the slightest trifle, ruining the mood of everyone around. And vice versa – to make of a previously energetic person, with an active lifestyle, absolutely apathetic and not interested in anything.

The course of thyroid diseases can be divided into two main groups: diseases accompanied by an increased release of hormones, and diseases with a decrease in their production.

With an increase in the level of thyroid hormones, the patient dramatically loses weight, body tremors, severe irritability, tearfulness, increased activity, nervousness, aggressiveness, sleep disturbances.

With a decrease in thyroid function, we observe a slowdown in metabolic processes in the body and an increase in body weight, the occurrence of edema. At the same time, the work of the gastrointestinal tract slows down, depressive states, drowsiness, lethargy occur.

If you notice the above symptoms, you should consult a doctor for examination and correction of hormonal levels, which, in turn, will contribute to improving the general condition and mood.

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