The Thyroid and Your Mental Health In This Chapter Discovering that you’re not alone Coping with an underactive thyroid Understanding the psychology of an overactive thyroid Finding thyroid problems in depressed people Using thyroid drugs to treat depression
The term myxedema madness may not be familiar to you, but it was popular when it was introduced in 1949 and for many years thereafter. Myxedema refers to low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism. The term myxedema madness resulted in the unfortunate association that all people with low thyroid function were somehow mad. My goal in this chapter is to clear up this misconception. The abnormal production of thyroid hormones, which I explain in Chapter 3, can cause changes in the mood of a patient, and these changes can be severe in rare instances. But for most patients, simply treating their overactive or underactive thyroid allows them to live psychologically and physically normal lives. In this chapter, I share what doctors currently understand about how changes in the production of thyroid hormones (both overproduction and underproduction) affect your personality. You discover how often personality or mood disorders are associated with thyroid abnormalities and why thyroid hormones play a role in the treatment of depression, even when no thyroid problem exists. Because the emphasis in this chapter is on the psychology of thyroid abnormalities, I don’t discuss physical signs and symptoms here; those discussions occur elsewhere in the book, especially in Chapters 5 and 6.
The Underactive Thyroid and Your Mood Sarah Dummy is a 44-year-old woman who hasn’t been herself for several months. Her husband, Milton, notices that she is much less talkative than before. She often forgets to pick