Imagine. You’ve just gotten pregnant and the sickness begins.
Somehow it doesn’t feel like any normal kind of sickness. You eat and gain weight nearly uncontrollably. You have a hunch what it is, but the doctor diagnoses you with normal pregnancy issues and ignores your concerns.
You give birth to your little precious being and somehow, unexplainably, you picture yourself throwing him against the wall. The depression is unbearable. You’re unable to lose weight no matter what you try. You are extremely exhausted. You beg your doctor to check your thyroid, knowing it could be the culprit. They find, after ignoring you the first time, that your TSH came back at 100 (normal range is 0.5-2.5).
Awareness about thyroid issues is lacking.
This is a problem as it’s leading to many women being misdiagnosed with postpartum depression and automatically prescribed antidepressants.
Unfortunately, doctors aren’t perfect. Many of them are jumping to the conclusion that people are depressed, even when recent research shows that low thyroid function can be linked to postpartum-depression symptoms.
The issue here is clear: When doctors routinely misdiagnose patients, they lose insight into the underlying condition and begin treating the patients in an inefficient and sometimes ineffective way.
Pregnant women and new moms are especially susceptible to this condition.
However, they often don’t seek medical care as they consider their symptoms as “just related to being a new mom”.
Unfortunately, many health-care providers tend to think the same thing. It’s tempting to conclude these postpartum depression symptoms are due to the change in routine after childbirth, caring for a new infant and all the related stresses.
Some of the symptoms of postpartum hypothyroidism which closely resemble depression are:
- a depressed mood or anxiety
- diminished enthusiasm
- appetite disturbances
- sleep disturbances
- physical agitation
- fatigue, decreased energy
- feelings of inappropriate worthlessness or guilt
- decreased focus or ability to make decisions
- and suicidal thoughts
If you or someone you love is dealing with postpartum depression…
Talk to your doctor and ask them to do a complete medical examination to rule out postpartum hypothyroidism. With the symptoms being so linked, it’s hard to say how many people have been misdiagnosed. Don’t move forward without ruling out the possibility, because it could be the key bit of information that could get you out of your situation.
Postpartum depression is serious, and it’s a real issue for a lot of women. However, without having other medical issues ruled out, proper treatment may be difficult to obtain. Many psychiatric doctors do not practice this, and you should advocate for yourself to make sure you are tested. Pregnancy causes hormonal shifts, and the thyroid is one of the spots which can be effected by this.
Ask your doctor to run a complete thyroid panel, which includes TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO), antibodies, and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb).
Feel free to reach out to me if you have further questions or would like to set up to talk about your challenges.
This article cannot be construed as a recommendation of medical treatment or medication. Please work with your doctor to find the correct diagnosis and treatment for your condition.Sources:
- Hollowell, J.G., Staehling, N.W., Flanders, W.D., Hannon, W.H., Gunter, E.W., Spencer, C.A., Braverman, L.E. Serum TSH, T4, and thyroid antibodies in the United States population (1988 to 1994): National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2002 Feb;87(2):489-99
- Lee, S.L. When is the TSH normal? New criteria for diagnosis and management. Lecture presented at 12th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), San Diego, CA, May 14, 2003