Symptom Management: Depression

Introduction 

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. I’m sorry we missed a week. I was sick with a cold. But also, I may have opened a box… belonging to Pandora. Depression is a complex and deep topic, so I won’t be able to talk about it fully. I hope to shed some light on why thyroid disease can cause depression and some treatment options.  Okay, let’s unmask these two bandits.

Depression and thyroid disease

One of the first things I learned about my birth family was that my grandmother had Hashimoto’s disease. For years she struggled to find the right medication. Turns out, what was thought to be depression, was untreated Hashimoto’s disease. This is a common case. Depression and Thyroid disease mimic each other so well, it’s hard to determine who the real culprit is. To make matters more murky, those with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism are 31-69% more likely to have depression* Fortunately, Thyroid disease has been associated with depression since 1873, so there’s a ton of research about it

Bandit #1: Thyroid disease

This slippery sucker seems like an easy catch. Every study I read, said depression should improve once thyroid pills are taken. But you know I give major side-eye to the “Magic Little Pill Theory”. Pills aren’t magic, but they can be one of the steps to treating depression. Some depression treatments work for improving your thyroid health as well. Lifestyle and diet changes, physiotherapy and exercise are all weapons against both baddies.   

The hormones involved in thyroid disease (Thyroxine (T4),  Triiodothyronine (T3) and Triiodothyronine (rT3) and Thyroid antibodies etc.) are abnormal in those with depression, even if they do not have thyroid disease. Doctors have been using thyroid hormones to aid anti-depression therapy since the 1960’s. So these two bad bandits are also best friends. Your T4 and T3 levels are the two that seem to be linked to depression. So I recommended desiccated medication in Fundamentals of Medication. I talked to my doctor, and am making the switch myself. Wish me luck, reviews to come. Doctors are also using neuroimaging to track down the exact location of these masked mad men. If you want to read about it, see “Sources” below.

Bandit #2: Depression

If your thyroid hormones optimized, but depression continues, we may have another bad guy to catch. (okay, I’ll stop with the crime fighting) Depression is a diagnosis, not a mood. Your doctor will  test to evaluate if you have it and which type. Then make a treatment plan. As per life, it takes time and trying. Typical treatment options are:

  1. Psychotherapy: It can be what works for you: group therapy, online, workbook or in a group.  
  2. Lifestyle changes: 30 mins walking has been proven to help reduce depression, dietary changes, alcohol and drug management, and  journaling 
  3. Medications: There are many out there. Talk to your doctor about side-effects, length of time you expect to be on them, and the risks in stopping the medications. 
  4. More information

Killing my Bandits

All this studying and struggling with depression led to two conclusions. One, it’s not just “all in my head.” There are legitimate physiological reasons thyroid warriors fight depression. Two, what works for some, may not work for me- for now. While I try to be open, there are steps I am not ready to take. One may obsessively write *blushes awkwardly,* another may exercise improves their depression. Either way, we take up the sword. That’s why we have this community. So we can exchange ideas and take up arms together. 

Conclusion

Depression and thyroid disease have long been associated. The shame of past generations is slowly raising its head and staring these illnesses in the eye. While getting the proper dose of thyroid medication has been proven to improve depression, the battle doesn’t stop there. If you feel you need more help, chat with your doctor about your options. Choosing to switch to desiccated pills may help, along with lifestyle changes and other medications. Whichever way you fight, continue to be your own thyroid advocate.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246784/

https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/83/9/3194/2865402

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/thy.1998.8.951

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399905000875

https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/127099

*Trzepacz PT, McCue M, Klein I, Levey GS, Greenhouse J. A psychiatric and neuropsychological study of patients with untreated Graves’ disease. General Hospital Psychiatry. 1988;10(1):49–55. 

Medical Marijuana

Introduction 

Welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. You may remember the marijuana of the psychedelic sixties, part of the counterculture movement. Or maybe you’re like me and the “War on Drugs” in the 80’s villainized marijuana as a gateway drug. Now in 2019, we are seeing the marijuana plant in a more dynamic way. No longer demonized, but studied. Through this we have learned about the properties of marijuana and its medical uses. But before we move Thyroidcafe to Amsterdam, let’s examine the medical benefits and risks of this controversial plant. 

Plant Parts: Chemicals in Marijauna and What They Do

There are two well understood chemicals in cannabis, THC and CBC, though there are more. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the chemical in marijuana that gives you the “high.” THC benefits are anti-inflammatory properties, has dopamine (pain killer), can ease your mind, and increases appetite. Now I don’t need any help finding the chips and I need my mind firmly inside my body, so the following is my preferred option. CBD (cannabidiol) is the no-high alternative to THC. It is also anti-inflammatory, has dopamine (pain killer) and can ease your mind. I will discuss THC and CBC more blow. Because of the restriction on marijuana, the other chemicals found in marijuana are less studied.  

A Plant by Any Other Name

You go to the store and there’s all the tomatoes. Some are for hamburgers, others for salad and there’s always those Roma’s nobody knows what to do with. Pizza? Fancy pizza?

 

Anyways, like tomatoes, marijuana has many varieties. But I will explore the three most notable . Cannabis Indica is known for its relaxation qualities, both mental and physical. It also decreases nausea, pain, and increases appetite. Another variety is Cannabis Sativa. I use this variety during the day as it is not a sedative. It dulls my pain, increases creativity, focuses me and even gives me energy. This is a picture of the product I use, it’s sold in most health food stores.


 Lastly, Cannabis Ruderalis is naturally high in CBD and low in THC, giving it no “high.” It does a great job treating depression. Each species of cannabis can be made to have more or less CBD and THC. Keeping the species in mind enables you to treat your symptoms specifically. 

What does Medical Marijuana treat? 

With the Opioid Crisis rearing its ugly head, pain management is one of the most sought after characteristics of marijuana. Many people with thyroid problems suffer from anxiety and depression. Personally, I have found relief from both using Cannabis Sativa. Medical marijuana also helps with insomnia. On the other hand, some strains of cannabis can give you more energy and clarity of thought. This is why it’s important to know the variety. Lastly, all varieties helps with inflammation. While this isn’t a miracle drug, there are obvious benefits to be explored. For a list of other diseases cannabis is thought to help, see below the conclusion. 

More than Puff, Puff, Pass: Types of Marijauna products

Before you bless the neighbours with a skunk-like smell, let’s discuss your options for taking medical marijuana. Availability depends on where you are, so please explore. Both CBD and THC oils can be bought online. Oils have a high concentration, so a little drop ‘ill do ya. See below for how much I take (140 lbs)

Half a dropper full is enough for me.

 I use the CBD oil to relieve my pain, anxiety and ease my depression. Next are waxes, or butane hash oil, they can be vaporized. It is potent and is popular for those treating chronic pain. Tinctures sound more exciting than they are. To make tinctures, alcohol is infused with cannabis and take a few drops under the tongue. Taking it this way allows it to take effect faster and last longer (45 mins-ish). Balms take the high out of cannabis. Lotions, sprays and topical oils are rubbed into the skin for pain relief. There are also suppositories and lets just say, I will not be going there. 

Risks of Marijuana

There are some risks to using medical marijuana. Firstly, if you choose to smoke it, there are the respiratory risks inherent to smoking anything. Secondly, short term memory loss is marked in some users. Lastly, prejudice from your employer or school. Even CBD shows up on a drug test, so know the policies in place that may limit your use.

Conclusion 

So let’s let the reputation of marijuana in the sixties pass, most people don’t remember the sixties anyways! And let’s set aside the War on Drugs to look reasonably at a product that could help us. Like opioids, marijuana needs to regulation to prevent misuse. But, that does not negate valid medical characteristics. If you are uneasy about hallucinogenic properties, try CBD. If you prefer not to smoke, try balms or oils. While I won’t be watching reruns of Harold & Kumar and chowing on Cheezies anytime soon, I will use marijuana to manage my symptoms. So what do other thyroid patience think about this taboo subject? Do you use medical marijuana? See our Facebook and Instagram or comment here. 

Other diseases cannabis can help: Glaucoma, arthritis, cancer, migraines, anorexia, depression, anxiety, stress, nausea , PTSD, Insomnia, Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ADHD, Epilepsy, PMS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease