Have you been experiencing unexplained anxiety, depression, mood swings or sleeplessness? Read on – it may be your thyroid gland.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland situated at the base of our neck just below the Adam’s Apple. Its main function is to regulate our metabolism. The butterfly shape is pretty but when thyroid function goes awry, the resulting effect on our moods can be anything but pretty!
There are different ways thyroid dysfunction can affect our moods. In cases of thyroid overactivity (hyperthyroidism), common mood symptoms experienced include:
- Mood swings (you may be experiencing rapid changes in moods from anger to sadness to frustration to irritability and back again)
- Sleeping difficulty
Underactivity of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can bring:
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of joy
- Brain fog
- Poor memory
- Difficulty thinking or finding the right words
What can you do about it?
- Sleep – Getting adequate sleep is vital for our thyroid and mental health. Aim to get 8 quality hours of sleep per night.
- Diet – It is important to eat a diet rich in the nutrients that are essential for thyroid function.
Iodine is required to make T4. You can get iodine from wakame, nori or tuna.
Tyrosine is an amino acid which is required to make T4. You can obtain tyrosine from the diet by eating beef, lamb, chicken, sesame seeds, nuts and eggs.
Selenium is required for conversion of T4 to T3. Brazil nuts, mushrooms, eggs, oats, sesame seeds are all good sources of selenium.
Iron is also required for conversion of T4 to T3. Sources of iron include dark green leafy vegetables, red meat, pine nuts, spinach, apricots.
Zinc is another nutrient required for T4 to T3 conversion. Red meat, shellfish, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds are good sources of zinc.
- Yoga and exercise – Yoga has some stress, anxiety and depression busting postures as well as postures that can help to tone the thyroid gland. Regular exercise is well known to increase energy levels, motivation, mood and mental health.
- Family and friends – reach out to family and friends. Having a chronic condition can also affect your family and your close friends so the benefits of reaching out and staying connected works both ways. Feeling connected is known to lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress and contribute to higher self esteem.
- The healing power of nature – this is known as “Biophilia”. Studies have shown contact with the outdoor elements to alleviate depression and anxiety can stimulate the body’s own healing processes. So go for a walk in nature or by the seaside as often as you can.
Live in the city? No problem, research also shows you can access similar psychological benefits from bringing nature into your indoor living areas – water features, plants and window views of nature.
- The Laughter Prescription – Research shows that laughter has a positive effect on depression, anxiety and stress. Laughter is free and without side effects – really is the best medicine!
See a naturopath!
How naturopaths treat this and what to expect in a consult
Some of the above tips might not be immediately doable for some people depending on their thyroid condition. For example, someone suffering hyperthyroidism will require professional help to balance their thyroid function before they are able to have a restorative 8 hour nightly sleep, and someone suffering from hypothyroidism may need professional help for thyroid balancing before their energy levels feel adequate enough to be able to exercise and do a yoga class. Everyone’s healing requirements are different and that is where naturopathy comes in.
At Shift, we have helped many people with thyroid dysfunction to manage their conditions in an integrated fashion.
During a consultation, the practitioner will take a detailed medical history and then recommend any further investigations which may be required. This can take the form of further blood testing to identify the status of the entire thyroid hormone pathway including antibodies and to identify if there are any deficiencies of the nutrients which run this pathway.
There are a wide range of nutrients used by the thyroid hormone pathway. At Shift we use supplements to correct any nutrient deficiencies identified through blood testing.
The use of botanical medicine works wonderfully in tandem with nutrient therapy to help to balance the immune response, reduce inflammation and to modulate thyroid function (this might be to slow or stimulate it).
Herbal medicine can be used safely in conjunction with thyroid medications under professional supervision.