Strong connections between depression, anxiety and the thyroid gland
In a recent study, German researchers report a newly discovered strong link between depression, anxiety disorders and chronic thyroid disease. More than 40 percent of all depression and about 30 percent of all anxiety disorders are, according to the research findings related to the thyroid. The scientists propose a special therapy that can help those affected more effectively.
A research team from the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) discovered a strong connection between depression and anxiety disorders with a chronic disease of the thyroid, the so-called autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT). About 10 percent of people in Germany are affected by this widespread thyroid disorder. The FAU researchers also presented a form of therapy to help with these diseases more effectively. Their research results were recently published in the journal ” JAMA Psychiatry “Published.
Recently, a new relationship between depression, anxiety disorders and chronic thyroid inflammation has been identified in a study. A special therapy should now help those affected more effectively. (Image: Kittiphan / fotolia.com)
Common diseases Depression and anxiety
anxiety and depression are among the most widespread mental illnesses. According to the Federal Statistical Office, more than a quarter of a million patients were hospitalized in 2016 due to depression. According to the FAU, about four million people in Germany show symptoms of depression. Despite effective options, so far only a few sufferers receive adequate therapy. Also anxiety disorders are unfortunately not uncommon. “Around 20 percent of the population will contract an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives,” she says Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry ,
What does the thyroid have to do with depression and anxiety?
“In the meantime, I’ve seen many hundreds of people with depression and anxiety in my office hours,” explains psychiatrist and study author Dr. Teja Wolfgang Grömer in one press release the FAU to the study. At the end of 2015, the psychiatrist found a strong connection between the thyroid disorder AIT and the two mental illnesses. To investigate his assumptions, Grömer prompted the current study. Twenty-one independent studies with data from more than 36,000 participants formed the basis of the research.
How does AIT affect the psyche?
“Many patients previously had no explanation for their disease,” Dr. Grömer. At an AIT (also under the name Hashimoto’s thyroiditis known) the thyroid gland is constantly inflamed. This could also affect the psyche, since the hormones of the thyroid affect the metabolism and the cellular energy balance. Therefore AIT also leads to specific mental symptoms such as inner restlessness, tension and exhaustion. Grömer reports that the AIT is quickly overlooked, as in many cases it does not cause any pain when complaining about menopause or being misinterpreted as a pure depression or anxiety disorder.
AIT is not a marginal phenomenon
AIT is most prevalent in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years. Women are affected much more frequently than men. Analysis of the data showed that people with AIT have a 3.5-fold increased risk of developing depression and a 2.3-fold increased risk of developing anxiety disorder. This means that more than 40 percent of depression and 30 percent of anxiety disorders occur in patients with AIT.
Grömer and colleagues suggest in the study a special form of therapy that is supposed to treat this type of depression or anxiety more effectively. In this treatment, antidepressants should be used at an early stage, which do not lead to weight gain. In addition, the trace element selenium is to be taken. In addition, according to Grömer, an AIT screening with the determination of antibodies in all patients with depression or anxiety should be introduced.
Is AIT-related depression an independent disease?
In order to shed more light on these new relationships, future psychiatric research on depression or anxiety would require treatment of AIT patients in a separate group, Grömer reports. (Vb)