The Thyroid Solution Excerpts
Chapter 1: Thyroid Imbalance – The Thyroid and The Mind
At any given time in the United States, more than 30 million people suffer from a thyroid disorder, more than 10 million women have low grade thyroid imbalance, and nearly 10 million people with thyroid imbalance remain un-diagnosed. Some 500,000 new cases of thyroid imbalance occur each year. All of these people are vulnerable to mental and emotional effects for a long time even after being diagnosed. Incorrect or inadequate treatment leads to unnecessary suffering for millions of these people. But these are numbers. Behind the numbers are the symptoms and ravaging mental effects experienced by real human beings…
Chapter 2: Stress and Thyroid Imbalance, which comes first?
At the end of a lecture I gave to a third year medical class, a student named John came to me and said that his twenty-three-year old wife, Christy, had been experiencing, “odd symptoms” for the previous year and that her primary care physician could find nothing wrong with her. “I’m wondering whether she has a thyroid condition, because she has many of the symptoms you described,” he said. In my first encounter with Christy, she told me what was happening to her. Her scenario was typical of that many thyroid patients go through. Christy traced her symptoms to a period the year before when she and John had married and she had started law school. About the time, she began to gain weight and be extremely fatigued. At times, she felt her heart was beating fast; she was moody and would cry for no reason. Christy was having a hard time functioning and frequently felt “strange” in her body, which is often typical of panic attacks. She attributed her symptoms to the stress of being newly married and feeling torn between her husband and her studies. Her mother frequently blamed her for having brought her symptoms on herself, saying that Christy shouldn’t have started law school and gotten married at the same time. Her primary care physician was initially concerned that Christy’s palpitations might indicate a heart problem, but her heart exams turned out normal. Once he learned more about Christy’s schedule, the doctor, like her mother, suggested that her symptoms were due to stress. When Christy finally consulted me, I determined through blood test that she had an underactive thyroid. Christy told me:
“Before this time, I was a relaxed person. But suddenly anything would set me off. Even little annoyance or problems seems like the end of the world and had to be resolved right then. Even though I’m not a devoted cook, if John didn’t finish the meal I served, I would fly off the handle. I overreacted to everything, and john wouldn’t know from minute to minute what might set me off. This went on for an entire year.”
Clearly the stress Christy was feeling was actually creating more stress. Her thyroid imbalance made her unable to deal with the minor stresses that had never affected her previously…
Chapter 3: Hypothyroidism (When the Thyroid is Underactive)
Low-grade Hypothyroidism: Once not discussed or even suspected, low-grade hypothyroidism and its effects on physical and mental health are increasingly pervasive, numerous studies have now concluded that low-grade hypothyroidism can contribute to high cholesterol levels, infertility, miscarriages, tiredness and depression. Research has shown that correcting low-grade hypothyroidism will result in a lowering of both total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Low-grade hypothyroidism can also cause high blood pressure and elevated triglycerides. Low-grade hypothyroidism causes the cells that cover blood vessels. This abnormality reverses with thyroid treatment as well left untreated; it will make you more likely to have coronary artery disease and heart attack. A recent study published in the Achieves of Internal Medicine showed that patients with low-grade hypothyroidism suffer more from coronary artery disease and cardiovascular death than people with normal thyroid function. Untreated low-grade hypothyroidism can also contribute to worsening peripheral vascular disease. Recent research has shown that in older people, peripheral vascular disease was present in 78% of those with low-grade hypothyroidism and in only 17% percent of those with normal thyroid. The reason for this increased risk of vascular disease among patients with low-grade hypothyroidism stems from elevation of blood pressure caused by low thyroid, higher levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, and high homocysteine levels. Even to this day, however, many physicians continue to believe that low-grade hypothyroidism has no significance. Some will tell their patients, “the condition isn’t enough to treat.” the most common physical symptoms experiences by patients with low-grade hypothyroidism are fatigue, dry skin, hair loss and cold intolerance. Some women may experience heavier and longer menstrual periods (menorrhagia) as a result of low-grade hypothyroidism…
Chapter 4: Hyperthyroidism (When the Thyroid is Overactive)
Common sense might suggest that if too little thyroid hormone can cause you to sink into a state if clinical depression and rob you of your ability to function as before, too much thyroid hormone would make you feel happy, perky and on top of the world. This assumption however is only partially correct. When the brain is flooded with too much thyroid hormone, some people do experience a lasting elation. Thoughts race through the mind. Activities crowd the day.
Chapter 5: Thyroid Imbalance, Depression, Anxiety, and Mood Swings
Your brain is unique. It creates your individual talents, perceptions and moods. Yet its individuality presents some challenges to physicians and brain researchers when they try to figure out how the brain, body and mind work together to generate specific mental states. For example, exact measurements or even precise definitions of what constitutes normal mental health continues to elude scientists. In recent past, some doctors may have defended normal mental health merely as the absence of overt mental disease such as manic depression or schizophrenia. Today, most doctors have come to recognize that millions of people have various, more subtle forms of depression and anxiety.
Chapter 7: Weight, Appetite, and Metabolism (The Thyroid’s Actions)
How Thyroid Hormone Affects Both Eating Behavior and Metabolism Thyroid hormone is one of the main hormones that regulate the amount of leptin produced and the efficiency of leptin. It also interacts with the hypothalamic chemicals involved in regulating our satiety level and the chemical hormones that are released by the gastrointestinal tract that allow communication between the gastrointestinal system and the brain. Too much thyroid hormone in your system will make your leptin levels go down, and this will contribute to the excessive hunger will also make your ghrelin level lower, and this will make your metabolism speed up, causing you to lose weight despite eating more.
Chapter 9: “You’ve Changed” When the Thyroid and Relationships Collide
Women and men are fundamentally different in how they communicate and interpret each other’s language, behavior and emotions. Many couples come to recognize their real differences, accept them and eventually learn to deal with them.
The intrusion of a thyroid imbalance into a couple’s relationship very often exacerbates these differences. Subtle changes in how the afflicted person speaks and acts alter the dynamics of the relationship. Thyroid patients, particularly those suffering from an overactive thyroid, often become moody, anxious, angry, and irritable. And many begin to have a distorted perception of their partner’s behavior. Unfortunately, their partners may not understand what causes these changes. Inability to cope with changing demands and difficulty in communicating can lead to chaos, with misunderstanding, false expectations and arguments over trivial matters. For many people, the relationship becomes a burden.
Chapter 11: Premenstrual Syndrome and Menopause (Tuning the Cycles)
From puberty to menopause, women’s bodies and brains are influenced by continuous cycles of hormones. These hormones are crucial not only for reproduction but also for the nature of a woman’s feminine identity. Sex hormones – including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA – also play an important role in thinking and memory, and they interact with chemicals in the brain that regulate mood, emotions and sex drive. The well-defined pattern of women’s monthly cycles is tightly regulated by messages from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Even though the thyroid system and the sex hormone system are two independent systems governed by the same “master gland,” the pituitary, there are important relationships between the two.
Chapter 14: Getting the Proper Diagnosis
For years, the public has received conflicting information on how to diagnose a thyroid imbalance properly. Some holistic doctors and alternative practitioners may diagnose you as hypothyroid if you suffer from tiredness and other symptoms of low metabolism. They will use your basal (resting) temperature as an index of low thyroid and will monitor the treatment by having you check your basal temperature three to four times a day. Some doctors will treat your allergies, asthma, hair loss, dry skin and gastrointestinal upset with thyroid hormone, believing that you have an underactive thyroid even if your blood test are normal. They may tell you that thyroid hormone is not working well in your body and you need thyroid hormone treatment because you are hypothyroid. Many conventional doctors, in contrast, go strictly by blood test and believe that you have a thyroid imbalance only if your blood tests are clearly out of normal range.
Chapter 16: Curing the Lingering effects of Thyroid Imbalance
If you suffered a thyroid imbalance, your symptoms will typically resolve with adequate treatment. Sometimes, however, even after the physical and mental symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism have disappeared, you may still not feel like your old self. If your imbalance was severe or of long duration, moreover, you may continue to have emotional problems, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and even some residual cognitive deficits. As a result, you may not feel normal even though, technically and medically, you no longer have a thyroid imbalance.
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism shake up your brain. Although you may recover completely if the imbalance is minimal and of short duration, a significant, long term imbalance could affect your mind for a longtime even after you’ve been properly treated. Thyroid imbalances can affect your brain chemistry in the same way as long term abuse of alcohol or drugs! Yet your physician may not know about these lingering effects because they have not been widely publicized, discussed or taught.
Chapter 17: The New T4/T3 Protocol
A few years ago, I was invited to a Christmas party at the home of a friend. Although I had known Alan for several years, I had never met his wife, Jennifer. When I arrived at the party, I noticed immediately that Jennifer has bulgy eyes, a symptom of the overactive thyroid condition Graves’ disease. Not only did her eyes protrude, but she also appeared depressed and withdrawn. She didn’t mingle easily and often snapped at her husband throughout the evening, clearly quite unhappy that she had to be at this party.
Chapter 18: Living a Thyroid Friendly
Life (Healthful Choices Day by Day) Besides getting the right medical attention, you also need to follow a lifestyle that includes eating healthy foods, taking the right supplements, following an exercise regimen, and practicing relaxation techniques. All of these activities are important for you to reach and maintain optimal physical and mental health, even though some doctors may lead you to believe that regular monitoring of thyroid hormone levels and making adjustments in drug dosages is all you need. But given what we now know of the significant mind body effects of thyroid disease, you have seen for yourself in the preceding chapters that a combination of therapies is a must.