When you think of depression most people have been led to believe that the mental illness is from a chemical imbalance and low serotonin in the brain. Although that could be true, that’s not the only reason.
Depression can be a result of some form of trauma from a recent or past event. One of the primary topics I teach my clients is on the long term effects of trauma, where psychotherapy can be very helpful.
However, when assessing for depression environmental and physiological factors should be considered. Depression is not the result of a mysterious chemical imbalance that kinda-sorta-maybe can be fixed. The cause can be unclear therefore an extensive exam is required. The field of psychiatry is beginning to understand that, for some people, depression can be an actual symptom of a biological problem and not a psychiatric disorder.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that a mental health disorder cease to exist if a physical cause can be found.
I’m going to focus on one biological issue for depression that is most commonly overlooked, and that’s thyroid disorder. The thyroid is called the “master gland” because it controls all of the metabolic processes in the body. It regulates the temperature, brain function, circulation, nerve and muscle health. All of which contributes to your mental wellness.
Identifying a thyroid condition requires a thorough history, physical exam and lab tests.
Thyroid disorders are one of the most severely under diagnosed health condition in the United States. The thyroid is often identified as an underlying cause of many symptoms labeled as mental illness. Thyroid sufferers can struggle with:
- Brain fog-difficulty concentrating
- Memory issues-forgetfulness, memory gaps
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Stress-induced ulcers
- Weight gain
- Irritability/easily upset
- Weight loss
Some doctors will start with a thyroid panel with consists of a TSH, free T3 and free T4. Every doctor is different. According to Raphael Kellman, M.D., and specialist in treating thyroid disorders, one of the “best available test for understanding thyroid issues is known as the TRH test, which is short for thyrotropin-releasing agent." This test offers “the most complex, fine-tuned, and accurate portraits of your thyroid status that is currently available.”
Thyroid issues are complex and you need extensive testing as well as a practitioner who believes in a personalized approach. What you don’t need is a 15-minute examination followed by a prescription for unnecessary medication that will do more harm than good.
I'm not a thyroid specialist but I understand that clients have a right to know the root cause of their mental illness. Some of their mental illness will only need talk therapy, while others may need treatment from a physician and a therapist. The point is clients needs an accurate assessment to receive the appropriate treatment.
Do you feel your depression is compromised by an undiagnosed physical illness? Have you been in talk therapy for too long and you're still not feeling better? A wellness assessment could be beneficial. I'd love to help, share your thoughts or questions below.