Hypothyroidism Diagnosis Confusion

HypothyroidismHypothyroidism elicits many similar symptoms to other mental health disorders.  Dr. Kristi Estabrook, MD, explains where the symptoms overlap and how unfortunately those experiencing Hypothyroidism are misdiagnosed. First, what exactly is hypothyroidism? Hypothyroidism is a thyroid hormone deficiency and there are two types: Primary and Secondary.

In Primary, the thyroid gland does not respond to thyroid stimulating hormone correctly. Causes of this form of hypothyroidism include autoimmune disease, iodine deficiency, and even infiltrating diseases. Secondary hypothyroidism is caused by a lack of thyroid gland stimulation by the hypothalamus or pituitary gland.

Hypothyroidism is difficult to detect, for many of the symptoms it causes are psychiatric and can be associated with both Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. Misdiagnosis can even be dangerous. If someone taking lithium for Bipolar Disorder was misdiagnosed and actually had Hypothyroidism, they could experience many negative effects since Lithium has an antithyroid effect.

Another danger of Hypothyroidism is that it is 10 times more common in women. This sex difference however, does somewhat subside as people get older. The most at risk individuals for this disorder include postpartum women, people with head or neck surgeries, and individuals experiencing endocrine conditions (diabetes).

The signs of hypothyroidism are non-specific, which is why it is so easily confused with other disorders. Some common symptoms exhibited in those affected are decreased rate of metabolism, accumulation of glucosaminoglycans, cold intolerance, dry skin, muscle cramps, and low levels of circulating thyroid hormones.

Common effects of the disorder also include depressed mood, poor concentration, weight change, memory issues, and low energy.  If you are experiencing these symptoms and have been diagnosed with a different disorder, yet find current treatments ineffective, it is advisable to start the conversation about hypothyroidism.

For more information, check out the full article here.