The Thyroid and Mental Health
Many factors can raise the risk of depression among older adults. Having a thyroid disease, especially hypothyroidism, is one of them. Other health conditions considered a risk for depression include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Depression may also be a side effect of taking certain medications — or not taking medications. For instance, forgetting to take your thyroid hormone replacement drug for hypothyroidism can cause depression. In addition, depression in the elderly may also be caused by isolation, loneliness, and the death of a spouse.
It isn't always easy to spot depression in older adults. But symptoms are the same as they are in younger people and include:
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Start Low, Go Slow
Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
If the depression is linked to thyroid disease, prompt treatment can help relieve these symptoms and improve your mood. So if you or someone you know is suffering from depression, consider asking to have your thyroid checked, especially if you have a personal or family history of thyroid and/or autoimmune disease.