Thyroid Hormone Levels & Mood Swings
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Q:  Thyroid Hormone Levels & Mood Swings

Dear Dr Phelps,

I have read that there may be a link between thyroid levels and bipolar disorders.  My question is this: I was diagnosed as hypothyroid when I was 19 (I'm now 26) and all my blood tests come back as normal.  However, I have also recently been diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder (bpII, by the looks of it) and wondered if it was possible for the body's natural production of thyroid to vary slightly on a day-to-day basis, which would cause the mood swings but also mean that the blood tests came out as normal in the overall?


Dear Jo' --
You almost surely are right about something here, but to my knowledge no one knows what the link between bipolar disorder and
thyroid disorder is (there may be several different relationships, including one in which thyroid hormone is used as a treatment.  I don't think it's as simple as thyroid hormone levels cycling up and down, causing mood to do likewise.  But maybe some microvariations like that really are involved.  If that turned out to be true, it would be pretty amazing (i.e. we'd have been overlooking something simple right under our noses).  If there's a study looking at thyroid hormone levels (which are subject to a lot of other confounding influences, unfortunately) and bipolar cycling on a  day-to-day basis, I've not come across it.  Good thinking.  Keep thinking; you're on to something important.  The link above takes you to just about all I know so far.  Watch the medical literature for work by Peter Whybrow and Mark Frye; they're the real researchers in this area.  

Dr. Phelps 

Published December, 2001


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