Her name was Mary.
She suffered from severe hypothyroidism and depression.
During our first consultation, she told me her heart-breaking story of how both were ruining her life, in so many ways.
Of her long list of thyroid symptoms, depression was one of the most debilitating.
She was being treated for her depression with an SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) medication.
While SSRI medications are widely prescribed for depression, their effectiveness is questionable.
First, the full actions of SSRIs are not entirely understood.
Second, studies show that their use increases suicide risk. This alone should call into question their safety and effectiveness.
Some SSRIs have been shown to work by activating the body’s stress response. This results in increased production of excitatory stress hormones.
While their excitatory effects can help mask the symptoms of depression, they can also be harmful to your thyroid health.
This was surely the case with Mary.
Without telling anyone, Mary stopped taking her anti-depressant.
(NOTE: This is very dangerous and not recommended. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your medications.)
Almost overnight, Mary’s body temperature took a nose dive. Her temperature plummeted from 98.1 F (36.7 C) to 96.5 F (35.8 C). Then, her symptoms took a drastic turn for the worse.
This showed just how strongly her anti-depressant was activating her body’s stress response.
It also showed how much these stress hormones were artificially elevating her body temperature.
In other words, her anti-depressant was having an effect; just not a healthy one. It was suppressing her thyroid in the process.
The results of what happened next were incredible. I’ll show you what we did in just a minute.
While many medical treatment options for depression are questionable…
…studies show a direct link between hypothyroidism and depression.
Those who are at highest risk are those with any of the following:
- Elevated T4 levels
- Low T3 levels
- Elevated rT3 (reverse T3)
- Blunted TSH response to TRH
- Positive anti-thyroid antibodies (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
Well, that covers just about everyone.
Yet, here’s something important to understand.
Many causes of hypothyroidism also influence depression in several ways, including:
- Low cholesterol
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Elevated serotonin
- Poor thyroid hormone conversion
- Poor metabolism
- Elevated estrogen
- Progesterone deficiency
- Elevated Endotoxin
- And the list goes on…
Poor metabolism, resulting in low brain energy, is one primary cause of depression.
In Mary’s case, we had great success by stimulating her metabolism.
By properly simulating metabolism, we can significantly increase energy production of the brain.
Below, you’ll find the 3-Step Protocol we used to stimulate her metabolism. As a result, her depression improved dramatically.
(Note: Mary also used our 3 Food Triple Thyroid-Boosting Daily Protocol. It’s a super simple way to start your day feeling right, feeling calm, feeling clear, and feeling full of energy. You can download it free here.)
Step 1: Improve Depression with Thyroid Hormone (T3)
Doctors sure are quick to prescribe anti-depressants.
Yet, few, if any, test thyroid hormone levels in cases of depression.
As we know, low thyroid hormone (T3) is a well known cause of depression.
Studies show that active thyroid Hormone (T3) is a very effective treatment option.
This study alone showed a 24.7% remission rate among depression sufferers over an average of 9.6 weeks.
A comparison of lithium and T(3) augmentation following two failed medication treatments for depression: a STAR*D report.
“RESULTS: After a mean of 9.6 weeks (SD=5.2) of treatment, remission rates were… 24.7% with T(3) augmentation… “
That’s incredible considering these results were from thyroid hormone supplementation alone.
Thyroid hormone (T3) is the strongest regulator of metabolism and energy production.
But here’s something else that is interesting…
High inactive thyroid hormone (T4) levels also cause depression.
This is because high T4 levels are often a sign of poor thyroid hormone conversion by the liver.
Many depression studies using T4 only medications show it to be ineffective.
Seeing as how most doctors prescribe T4-Only medications, like synthroid and levothyroxine, this poses a big problem for those suffering from hypothyroidism and depression.
In Mary’s, case we increased her T3 levels using a non-prescription source of desiccated thyroid. You can learn more about it by clicking here.
Step 2: Improve Depression with Coffee
This is one of my favorites.
Few people understand the full therapeutic benefits of coffee for thyroid health.
Yet, here’s one more to add to the list of coffee benefits.
Studies show that coffee can work as an effective anti-depressant. When used properly, it has little to no negative side-effects.
This study shows that 2 to 4 cups of coffee per day reduces your risk of depression by 15% to 20%.
Coffee, caffeine, and risk of depression among women.
“CONCLUSIONS: In this large longitudinal study, we found that depression risk decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption.”
Sorry to all you decaf drinkers. Unfortunately, decaf coffee doesn’t provide the same benefit.
Studies also show that coffee drinkers who drink 2 to 4 cups of coffee daily are 50% less likely to attempt suicide.
That’s another added benefit, considering many anti-depressants increase suicide risk.
Coffee is effective against depression for similar reasons as thyroid hormone (T3).
This is because caffeine mimics many of the effects of T3 on metabolism. So, it helps to increase brain energy too.
In Mary’s case, we increased her coffee intake up to 2 to 3 cups per day as tolerated.
But, not everyone tolerates coffee well.
This is because of poor nutrition and inadequate liver glycogen (blood sugar fuel).
Just like using thyroid hormone (T3), coffee works by pushing on the gas pedal of your metabolism.
If your fuel tank is empty, you’re always going to run into problems.
Step 3: Improve Depression with B-Vitamins
Here’s something that isn’t as well known, but still very important.
Hypothyroidism and depression are also linked by certain B-Vitamin deficiencies.
Hypothyroidism sufferers are often deficient in B-Vitamins. Studies show that certain B-Vitamin deficiencies are another common cause of depression.
The B-Vitamins most directly associated with depression include:
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
It was Dr. Abram Hoffer who pioneered many studies on B-Vitamins and depression. He is well known for his work on linking Niacin (Vitamin B3) deficiency to depression.
There are many therapeutic benefits to B-Vitamins. Of particular interest is their ability to help restore healthy metabolism and energy production.
They also have many anti-stress effects. They also help improve glycogen storage and liver function too.
All these are essential for proper thyroid function.
In Mary’s case, we also used certain B-Vitamins to help further increase brain energy.
This is one reason I created a Vitamin B Thyroid Complex for my clients. It uses these B-Vitamins, and others, optimized for your thyroid health.
(NOTE: Want to see the full list of benefits this Vitamin B Thyroid Complex has to offer? Click here to learn more.)
Fixing depression can involve more than just stimulating brain energy. So, I’ll continue to add more helpful tips in future parts of this article.
Yet, Mary was a very interesting case, and this is what worked most effectively for her.
We sometimes do see body temperature drop and symptoms worsen when lowering stress hormones.
It can be a temporary, but necessary, effect when regulating thyroid function.
Yet, I never saw such a fast and significant decline in body temperature as Mary’s.
So, we did what we could to stimulate energy production and restore her body temperature.
It all started with this simple 3-Step Thyroid-Depression Protocol.
Over the following weeks, her body temperature rose and surpassed its former stress-induced peak. And this time she was supporting her thyroid instead of suppressing it.
More importantly, by restoring energy production and body temperature, her depression resolved. And she starting feel much more like her normal self again.
1. Dayan, Colin M, and Vijay Panicker. “Hypothyroidism and Depression.” European Thyroid Journal, S. Karger AG, Sept. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017747/
2. Harvard Health Publishing. “When Depression Starts in the Neck.” Harvard Health, July 2011, www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/when-depression-starts-in-the-neck
3. Foundation, British Thyroid. “Psychological Symptoms and Thyroid Disorders.” British Thyroid Foundation, 2008, www.btf-thyroid.org/information/leaflets/37-psychological-symptoms-guide.