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  • Writer's pictureDr. Alla Arutcheva

Ask your doctor to test your thyroid for Autoimmunity!

Thyroid hormones are essential for whole body health and especially for brain health. The thyroid plays an important role in many brain areas and impacts major neurotransmitter receptors. A thyroid hormone deficiency (hypothyroidism) and thyroid autoimmune disorder (Hashimoto disease) are associated with chronic depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders.

During the annual physical exam, doctors usually order a blood test for thyroid stimulation hormone (TSH) to monitor thyroid function. TSH can frequently fluctuate, even within normal ranges, but the patient still feels fatigued and depressed. In this case, ask your doctor to screen for thyroid autoimmunity with TPO (thyroid peroxidase) and TGB (thyroid-binding globulin) antibody tests to rule out Hashimoto disease, the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. Unmanaged Hashimoto's creates the possibility of systemic inflammation, including brain inflammation. The fluctuations of thyroid function affect mood instability, and periods of low levels can result in significant depression. This could explain why your depression persists even after you begin treating hypothyroidism and ignoring autoimmunity.

Hashimoto's patients often have unstable blood sugar levels, making them more prone to insulin resistance. Fluctuation of blood sugar is a very common cause of mood changes.

Sometimes TPO and TGB antibodies bind to cerebellum tissue in the brain, causing some Hashimoto's patients to develop brain autoimmunity. Cerebellum autoimmunity causes depression, balance problems and gait disorders, difficulties in coordination, and vertigo.

Systemic inflammation from unmanaged Hashimoto's is associated with intestinal permeability (leaky gut), which makes the blood-brain barrier overly permeable and prone to the brain to inflammation.

Gluten. Nerve tissue is most affected by gluten sensitivity—two-thirds of people with gluten sensitivity experience neurological symptoms instead of gut symptoms.

Hashimoto's patients are gluten-sensitive, and gluten can play a role in their depression and anxiety. Gluten cross-reacts with dairy, meaning the immune system recognizes dairy as gluten. Many patients find their mood disorders significantly improve by eliminating these two foods from their diet.

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution for anxiety and depression.

This path is different for each person. It could include changing your diet, reducing inflammatory foods, exercise or making other lifestyle changes. Perhaps you need to address your gut health, your microbiome, or your blood sugar. There are many different variables, and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment.

Brain inflammation. Many researchers has found a connection between brain inflammation and depression, called the inflammatory model of depression.

Traditional antidepressants are ineffective in cases of the brain inflammation caused by autoimmune thyroid, .

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