WASHINGTON, D.C.Hypothyroidism is often associated with mood changes like depression lethargy. Researchers, studying underlying brain processes in search of "why" this happens, reported their results at the 54th Annual Meeting of SNM, the world's largest society for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine professionals.
"The aim of our study was to investigatewith positron emission tomography (PET) imaginghow physical health and mental health are interrelated," said Waltraud Eichhorn, a nuclear medicine physician at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. "We found that hypothyroidism is correlated to regional metabolic changes in the thalamusan area of the brain that helps process information from the senses and transmit it to other parts of the brain" she said. "In other words, hypothyroid patientscompared to healthy individualshave decreased metabolism in special parts of the brain that are responsible for processing information, " said Eichhorn. "Remarkably, this reduction in metabolism remains detectable after thyroid hormone replacement therapy," she added.
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck just above the collarbone, is an endocrine gland that makes hormones and helps set a body's metabolism (how the body gets energy from food). Hypothyroidism, a condition in which your body produces too little thyroid hormone, often leads to exhaustion and depression, affecting millions of Americans, many of them women or the elderly. There are 27 million Americans who have underactive or overactive thyroid glands, but more than half remain undiagnosed, according to recent statistics.
Hypothyroidism can be treated by doses of thyroid hormone. Once the blood levels of thyroid hormone reach a normal rangecalled euthyroidlethargy and depression often lift. However, in some patients, the depression persists, which means that successful therapy must address depression directly.