The following is part 1 in a series about the thyroid that Rachel Haines, a certified dietitian, has written for this blog. I have personally been on thyroid medication for over 10 years and am working with Rachel to be able to help my body not need it anymore. As you can see from the model, learning about and doing something about hormone imbalances is a critical component to healing from mental illness.
It is amazing to me the complexity of the human body. The way our body functions is based on a collection of our inherited genetics, our diet, our exercise, and perhaps most importantly, the way we manage the stressors in our life. Mandy Marie asked if I would share some of what I have learned about the thyroid with her readers.
First it is important to understand that thyroid hormone (produced by the thyroid gland), cortisol (produced by the adrenals) and also the sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) are all interconnected. When there is a change or an imbalance that occurs in one of these, it tends to affect the others. For example, when we produce too much cortisol (due to unrelenting physical, emotional or mental stress), our thyroid hormone production actually decreases. Excess cortisol production also results in decreased production of estrogen and testosterone within the body. Learning to manage stress is a vital part of wellness. If we are constantly “reacting” to life events, we will struggle with maintaining a balance of these three important hormones.
In women over 35, it is not uncommon to experience a combination of both decreased thyroid function, as well as imbalanced sex hormones. Some physicians refer to this as thyropause.
The brain is full of thyroid hormone receptor sites. Most people understand that thyroid hormone stokes the metabolic fires of the body, but may not be aware of how it affects the brain. With hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone), the brain and the body both slow down. Researchers have found that 15-20 % of people with depression are low in thyroid hormones. The brains of hypothyroid patients appear similar to the brains of people with depression in imaging studies.
In addition, the risk of thyroid problems also increases with age. Untreated hypothyroid conditions will result in brain degeneration. Low thyroid manifests affecting the brain manifests as depression, cognitive impairment (difficulty remembering or learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life), anxiousness and mental fogginess.
Rachel Haines is a certified Body Code practitioner and also a registered dietitian. She works via phone consults and also video streaming with clients all over the US. Using applied kinesiology, she determines energetic imbalances that are contributing to diminished physical or emotional health. If you feel stuck and would like to delve deeper into an issue with your thyroid, or any other physical or emotional issue plaguing your life, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment. God bless you in your efforts!