PSYCHIATRY AND THYROID DISEASE
Thyroid Tests For Those with a Psychiatric Diagnosis
Hopefully many or most people with a psychiatric diagnosis will already have had a thyroid test. However do ask your doctor to check your notes and do a test if this has been overlooked. People diagnosed with depression, manic depression or bi-polar affective disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, dementia, psychosis or any other mental illness who have not had a thyroid test need testing to rule out the possibility that their symptoms may have been caused partly or wholly by thyroid disease.
Consult a doctor to ask for a thyroid test. Continue to take your medication unless told otherwise by a doctor and always follow medical advice.
If you do have a positive test result it means you have a thyroid disorder. Your doctor will advise you of regular blood tests and treatments.
Thyroxine is the usual treatment for underactive thyroid disease. It is important to take thyroxine every day as instructed by your doctor and to attend for blood tests as advised.
There are many different treatments for overactive thyroid disease and your doctor will advise you or ask you to see an endocrinologist.
Psychiatric Medication for Someone with Undiagnosed Myxoedematous Psychosis Erroneously Given Another Non-Thyroid Related Psychiatric Diagnosis.
Someone with untreated underactive thyroid disease who is taking psychiatric medication may suffer severe side affects including hair loss, foot dragging, amenorrhoea (periods stop), slowed digestion (it feels as though meals get stuck in the chest), low body temperature, severe cold and stiffness, slow pulse, exhaustion, great difficulty in thinking, talking or showing facial expression and hallucinations when taking medication or when it is stopped.
It is totally unacceptable for someone to be subjected to such an experience because a thyroid test has been overlooked. Such inappropriate treatment of myxoedematous psychosis may be harmful to the person’s long-term health and cause months or years of unnecessary suffering which may have been prevented by correct diagnosis and thyroxine treatment. This issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Tests need to be done for all with mental distress to prevent this.
It may be cheaper to thyroid test every person presenting symptoms of mental distress than it is to misdiagnose one person, treat them with psychiatric medication and hospitalise them for one week. This is just the financial cost, the human cost may be unfathomable.
Thyroid Disease WITH Psychiatric Illness
It is possible for someone to have thyroid disease AND a psychiatric condition. Proper care by the GP, psychiatrist and possibly referral to an endocrinologist with proper attention given to the need for regular thyroid tests, daily thyroxine or antithyroid treatment as well as any psychiatric medication is important for wellbeing. A harmonious balance of medications and treatments needs to be found.
Some psychiatric medication may cause or worsen thyroid disease; the best known of these is probably lithium. People taking lithium are sometimes advised to have a thyroid test every three months.
Other medications may also be indicated as causing thyroid problems. These include diazepam (Valium), phenothiazines (tranquillizers such as Largactil), beta-blockers and some medications for diabetes and other conditions.
Get good advice from your doctor, pharmacist and psychiatrist.