Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

The thyroid and bipolar disorder

with 4 comments

Isn’t it nice to have some good weather here in the UK, at last?

I went to see the folks yesterday. I spent an hour stuck in a jam on the duel carriageway coming out of Chesterfield after someone had a car accident. I pulled my car half way up onto the central reservation so that ambulances and fire engines could zoom past. I’m really glad I didn’t take the dog. An hour in a hot car with a hyperactive Cocker spaniel climbing the walls would not have been fun!

I gave my folks a thyroid questionnaire to fill in. My sister’s looks like mine would have about five years ago. I have no idea whether it will help them or not, but if there’s a chance it will, it’s worth pursuing for a while.

I was incredibly groggy yesterday and actually worried about driving. I felt strong though. Today I woke up clear headed, feeling weak with that annoying pounding heart beat symptom again. It’s only beating at around sixty bpm (normal for me is 90bpm), but I can feel every beat. I was like this last month and I think the menopause-strength PMS symptoms are coming on again. Can I please just cancel my menstrual cycle this month? I’d much rather keep it in the bank right now.

I’ve dug up some interesting information regarding thyroid problems and bipolar disorder. This website is written by a qualified psychiatrist who works within the hospital system in the US, and who specialises in the care and treatment of bipolar patients. He has also written a paper regarding treating bipolar disorder with apparently normal thyroid readings with thyroid medication. Thyroxine acts as a mood stabiliser. This makes sense to me, as if it stimulates enzyme activity in your brain, your brain will better be able to balance your neurotransmitters. Even more on this.

I read somewhere (I forget where I’m afraid), that about 25% of psychiatric patients have a thyroid disorder. I had a schizophrenic friend on my writing course ten years ago, and SHE had a thyroid disorder too, I think it may have been autoimmune but I can’t remember. She was a vegetarian with clinically low B12, and many autoimmune thyroid patients are low on B12, though I’m not sure whether the chicken came before the egg. Being low on iron is also a risk factor. More on this. I have strange reactions to B12 myself. Small doses make me feel better, but make me irritable. Large doses make me furious and give me a trapped nerve sensation in my neck.

I’ve been quite stable today, but yesterday I had a very mood-swingy day. It’s weird, because on one level I’m quite calm. I can’t seem to get agitated. Yet on another level, insignificant things provoke reactions in me. For example, something on the television or the radio might provoke me to well up, or to start giggling and feeling euphoric. I think I could be cackling mad for a couple of months until I get enough thyroxine. There’s not much I can do about it so I may as well go with it I guess!

Something else I’ve discovered is that the strange tingling sensations in my fingers, and the tugging sensations in my wrists are caused by carpal tunnel syndrome! Yet another complication of hypothyroidism. I thought it was a circulation problem, but apparently patients often think this. These symptoms are caused by fluid build up in the tissues pressing on the nerves in the wrists.

OMG, WTF! After a moment of devastating insight, I think this may be the cause of my leg pain too! The wrist tugging/finger tingling and the DVT leg pain always occur together, at night, when carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms normally appear. I’ve been really puzzled by the fact that the leg pain goes away again in the day. I think this is caused by the existing damage to my DVT leg, which has a tendency to swell with fluid due to the venous “locks” in my leg being damaged by the blood clot. I’ve been getting enough fluid build up in my leg tissues to press on the nerves in my leg and cause leg-carpal-tunnel-syndrome!

I think I can go back to the doctor now feeling vindicated that I’m not a hypochondriac! Gimme more thyroxine, quick!

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Written by alienrobotgirl

25 May, 2009 at 1:04 am

Posted in Thyroid

4 Responses

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  1. Recently, I combined a dose of Stablon (Tianeptine) with Namenda, which is being increasingly prescribed to treat off-label conditions such as depression, mood disorders, OCD, and ADHD. I can personally testify that this combination is far superior to other classes of psychiatric medications. The combination is sedating, yet stimulating, which is in stark contrast to some of the anti-convulsants and anxiolytics that I’ve previously tried. Also, I’ve been spared of some of the vicious cycling that can occur with Cyclothymia. Curiously, though, both drugs have anti-serotonergic properties.

    For curing morning grogginess, and to combat insomnia, I’ve found an evening dose of Melatonin to be quite effective. I suspect there was some sort of disturbance in my circadian rhythm.

    As for the bipolar/thyroid connection, I believe there is some potential with this thesis, and I am eager to see the results of subsequent studies. However, I think better results might be obtained through using a desiccated thyroid extract, since desiccated thyroid glands have been demonstrated to be more effective in alleviating all of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism, especially the mental symptoms.
    I’m tempted to attribute all of my symptoms to some sort of subclinical hypothyroidism, but I have yet to be completely convinced. In continuation of a seemingly unending search for complete and satisfying answer to all that troubles me, I’m planning on requesting my previous blood lab results for further analysis. It seems that I have a terrible habit of blindly trusting medical professionals. But, I take some solace from the fact that I’m not alone.

    Additionally, I think you were quite right about Pycnogenol, Bromelain, and Quercetin. I was convinced that I was experiencing some positive benefits, but perhaps these feelings were just part of a placebo effect. When you’re a neurotic, I think it’s possible to convince yourself that even a product marketed as fairy dust has transformative properties. So, as a consequence of my new discovery, I’ll have to spend some time calibrating my supplemental regimen.

    By the way, my name is Scott. The only significance of Beroul is the randomness of its selection as a username.

    I made some minor corrections of my previous comment.

    beroul82

    25 May, 2009 at 4:48 am

  2. You might consider this book, The Thyroid Solution: A Revolutionary Mind-Body Program That Will Help You (Paperback) by Arem Ridha (Author). He’s a psychiatrist with extensive experience using thyroid hormone to treat the mind-mood aspect of hypothyroidism.

    Years ago I had a flat-mate who was bipolar (but tended to be strongly depressive, not manic) and I strongly suspect she was also extremely hypothyroid, though at the time I knew nothing about hypothyroidism. She was taking lithium, which is known to bring on hypothyroidism, too, but I don’t know if the lithium came before or after her hypothyroid symptoms started.

    She also ate a very low fat, low calorie diet, nearly vegetarian diet of mostly salads which also probably slowed her metabolism and affected her mood in a negative way (plus, when she really became very depressed and had difficulty coping, she binged and purged in secret). The chronic cardio exercise (stationary bike) in a futile attempt to manage her weight also probably did more harm than good in her depleted state, too.

    In hindsight, I think her life would have been much improved had someone recognized she needed thyroid help and a more nutritious diet instead of putting her on the new “miracle” drug – Prozac, which definitely did not help her.

    goingagainstthegrain

    25 May, 2009 at 1:51 pm

  3. Thanks for the book recommendation.

    I agree about prozac! I’ve never taken prozac, and I fear in my current state it would do a great deal of damage. I know several people who have complained to me that it has not helped their depression at all, instead it has made them feel weird and withdrawn from the world, as if they are floating in a bubble, disconnected from everything happening around them. I already feel that way! LOL.

    I had a friend at university who took paxil/seroxat for depression. Her depression was such that she took it out on other people, and I eventually had to cut her out of my life in order to preserve myself. Back when paxil/seroxat was in the news for making teenagers suicidal, I had an insight into her mind. She had all the serious and controversial unlisted side-effects, for example, seeing what is accepted as bad as being good, taking pleasure in other people’s pain, suicidal thoughts, self harm, hostility, and emotional irritability.

    I’m furious that a relative of mine who I suspect is bipolar has been put on SSRIs. It’s known to provoke mania and irritable mania. She can only take a child’s dose without becoming manic and losing her sense of judgement. She does funny stuff like wearing inappropriate clothing or too much makeup, drinking too much, losing her common sense with men. It’s excruciating to watch. Considering she has many thyroid-like symptoms (in fact she seems just like me five years ago), I may be dragging her with me to a private thyroid doc soon.

    alienrobotgirl

    25 May, 2009 at 3:51 pm

  4. Hi Scott

    When you look at your thyroid labs, it may be worth you reading up on the controversy over what a correct TSH level looks like. The current standard in the US is that anything over 3 is indicative of hypothyroidism, but this was revised only a few years ago and many labs and doctors haven’t updated their reference range. Some doctors won’t even treat borderline hypothyroidism.

    Bipolar type II looks a lot like hypothyroidism on paper doesn’t it? Morning grogginess, sleep disturbance, mood swings, physical aches and pains, weight gain… I can imagine that someone with Hashimoto’s, who went through periods of recovery and autoimmune attack would appear very bipolar to a psychiatrist.

    alienrobotgirl

    25 May, 2009 at 4:09 pm


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