Q: I have many family members with hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, ADD and I am suffering from a long standing depression. My cousin mentioned she had subclinical hypothyroidism. Could my depression be related to subclinical hypothyroidism?
A: Depressive symptoms could indeed be related to hypothyroidism, particularly in an individual with extensive family history of thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism can be severe, moderate, or low-grade. Low-grade hypothyroidism is the most common form of low thyroid, it is called subclinical hypothyroidism by health professionals.
Subclinical hypothyroidism is defined as having slightly high TSH level while thyroid hormone levels are normal. For many physicians, subclinical hypothyroidism is just a trivial blood test abnormality but in fact it reflects a slight thyroid hormone deficiency that can cause symptoms. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the most common cause of subclinical hypothyroidism could be the reason. To find out if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, your doctor should test for thyroid antibodies. Obviously, if there is subclinical hypothyroidism, thyroid hormone treatment might help with your depressive symptoms.
It is possible that you are experiencing a depressive syndrome not caused by the thyroid, but subclinical hypothyroidism might make the depressive symptoms worse. If TSH level is in the normal range and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is present, then you need to discuss thyroid treatment with your physician and make sure you take the right supplement to improve your immune system health and thyroid health.