Is your thyroid gland really normal? Or is it making you sick even though some tests a doctor ran says it is?
What tests did you have, what additional tests may be needed to give a more accurate assessment of thyroid function and how can your thyroid gland be contributing to your bipolar illness mood states?
These are all important questions for anyone diagnosed bipolar to ask. They are especially important for those who are taking lithium, or who have unrelenting fatigue as a major symptom.
Lithium can cause existing thyroid issues to worsen, or create a thyroid problem all on its own as a side effect of long-term use.
And your underfunctioning or overfunctioning thyroid gland may have be the primary underlying biological cause that created the onset of your severe mood states in the first place.
What Does Your Thyroid Gland Do?
Your thyroid gland does a bunch of very important things in your body such as regulate metabolic rate, heart and digestive function, muscle control and brain development.
It is the part of the endocrine system that releases thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. Source: Society for Endocrinology
It does a lot of other things too that we don’t need to get into here except for how it affects moods and how it may be contributing to your bipolar illness mood states.
Checking Thyroid Function
This is not done thoroughly by most doctors. Most will only test your TSH levels and maybe T4 too. Free T4 if you are lucky.
TSH is thyroid-stimulating hormone that is released by the pituitary gland in the brain and tells your thyroid gland to produce hormones. The two main hormones produced are T4 and T3.
Your body makes more T4 but then converts much of it to T3. A few more steps and T3 becomes free T3 i.e. circulating in the bloodstream not bound to a protein. It is free T3 that does most of the good stuff at the metabolic level.
If they test TSH and T4 and both are in the normal range then your symptoms of depression, fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, difficulty sleeping, etc. will be thought to be from depression.
Even though test results can vary from lab to lab and accepted ranges for normal differ from doctor to doctor.
It is also possible that the underlying problem is a difficulty converting T4 to T3 and then to free T3. There are T3 medications, so be sure to get complete and accurate testing.
Many Doctors Will Not Do a Thyroid Antibody Test – But You Need to Have One Done
I’ve been refused a thyroid antibody test on a couple of occasions. One doctor, when I had insurance and made it very clear when I made the appointment I wanted thorough thyroid testing said to me “it’s really expensive.” She would only test TSH and T4.
Really. Yes, she was fired. I never went back.
Don’t let that be you. Get a full thyroid panel done that also tests for antibodies that may indicate you have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. That could be the root cause of your depression and mood swings. Psychotropic medications will not treat it.
They will make you worse.
Would you like to be rolled into surgery to have seizures induced in your brain i.e. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) because lazy doctors wouldn’t fight for your health and instead just kept writing prescriptions that caused severe worsening of your symptoms.
I didn’t think so.
The below is quoted from the article: “Everything You Need to Know Before Getting a Thyroid Panel.”
“In many cases of hypo/hyperthyroidism, the lymphocytes, which are the blood cells created by our immune system and released in the blood circulation with the function to protect our body from any viruses and bacteria by creating their antibodies, now create antibodies against their own thyroid.”
“These antibodies will either stimulate or harm the thyroid gland and its function. Two main thyroid antibodies are usually found in a case of hypo/hyperthyroidism are thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin.”
If Don’t Have Insurance Try an OTC Product
A few years ago I used up the last of my Synthroid prescription and was off the med for a month or so. As is the norm for me, I started to get overly-tired, feeling like I could barely move, sleepy during the day, etc.
I had no access to care, so bought an over-the-counter (OTC) product. The results were very good. I wrote this post about that includes a photo of the OTC product I bought.
If you don’t have access to testing you may want to do a trial run of an OTC dessicated thyroid product. You may be amazed at how much better you feel, and how much it lessens your bipolar depressive states.
Don’t Tolerate Intolerable Fatigue
Don’t tolerate intolerable fatigue. And don’t believe that it is ‘just depression’ or the new label ‘bipolar depression’.
You may be given the name of a psychiatrist, or a prescription for an antidepressant. But what is really going on biologically is an underactive thyroid gland. Though the doctor refuses to do testing.
Depression – even with the marketing term bipolar in front of it – is a real physical illness. Find out what is going on in your body to make you feel that way.
If you are told your thyroid is normal, know that might not be the full picture. Insist on a full thyroid panel.
Image of thyroid system is a free use image on Wikipedia by Mikael Häggström.