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Thyroid gland and depression: Is there a link?

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Thyroid and depressionTrauma and thyroid healthSymptomsTreatmentAntidepressants and thyroidSummary
The thyroid gland is a small organ in your neck. It produces hormones that regulate many bodily processes, including mood. Some evidence suggests a link between thyroid problems and depression.
Medically reviewed by Yalda Safai, MD, MPH
Updated on

Your thyroid gland produces the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). 

T3 and T4 help regulate many aspects of your health and well-being, including your mood.

When the thyroid gland is working as it should, it maintains optimal levels of thyroid hormones in your blood.

But some thyroid conditions can cause imbalances in these hormones, leading to symptoms like mood changes — and sometimes even depression.

In this article, we take a closer look at the link between thyroid gland health and depression.

We also outline how trauma might lead to thyroid problems, thyroid issue symptoms and treatments, and the link between antidepressants and thyroid health.

Does thyroid disease lead to depression?

Adult female mental health professional sitting on a couch talking with an adult female who is also sitting on a couch in a therapy setting. They could be discussing the links between thyroid and depression.
Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a type of depression that can cause:

  • low mood
  • a lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • increased or lack of appetite
  • sleep issues
  • lack of energy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • suicidal thoughts

Researchers don’t fully understand if or how thyroid disorders might contribute to depression or MDD. 

However, a 2023 review of 63 studies suggests the thyroid hormone T3 may play a key role in influencing mood. 

The researchers explain that low T3 can cause low levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, two hormones that affect your emotional well-being. In turn, this may contribute to the development of mood disorders. 

Also, the fact that adding T3 to antidepressant medications has helped some cases of treatment-resistant depression supports this theory. 

The review authors also highlight that the frequent coexistence of thyroid disorders like Graves’ disease and mental health disorders reinforces that thyroid hormones play a role in conditions like depression.

In addition to intricate hormonal factors, the American Thyroid Association suggests that simply living with a chronic thyroid disease can contribute to someone developing depression. 

On the other hand, researchers of a large 2022 study concluded that variations in thyroid hormone levels don’t necessarily increase MDD risk. 

Ultimately, more studies will help researchers better understand the relationship between depression and thyroid health. 

Can trauma lead to thyroid health challenges?

Mental health trauma can stem from a situation that causes intense fear, helplessness, or shock.

Trauma can be acute, resulting from events like acts of violence, accidents, loss of a loved one, or a natural disaster.

It can also be chronic, resulting from repeated or prolonged exposure to things like war, housing instability, abuse, or living with chronic illness. 

Trauma can have lasting effects on your physical and mental health — and possibly your thyroid health. 

Trauma can activate your body’s stress response, releasing cortisol and other hormones from the adrenal glands, and high cortisol levels may lead to thyroid dysfunction. 

Still, more research is necessary to fully understand the connection between trauma and the thyroid. 

Mental and physical symptoms of a thyroid imbalance

Thyroid imbalances can cause a variety of psychological and physical symptoms.


Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. 

Hashimoto thyroiditis, also known as chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, is a common type of hypothyroidism.

Physical hypothyroid symptoms include:

  • intolerance to cold temperatures
  • weight gain
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • enlarged thyroid gland or tongue
  • hair loss
  • slow heart rate

Mental hypothyroid symptoms include:

  • fatigue (low energy)
  • anxiety
  • psychosis
  • memory loss


Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland produces too many thyroid hormones. 

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune and common type of hyperthyroidism. 

Physical hyperthyroid symptoms include:

  • enlarged thyroid gland
  • weight loss
  • increased appetite
  • heart palpitations
  • heat intolerance
  • muscle weakness
  • diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • irregular or no periods (in females)
  • tremors 

Mental hyperthyroid symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • lack of sexual drive

Thyroid cancer 

Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland. 

Possible symptoms include:

  • neck swelling 
  • voice hoarseness
  • trouble swallowing
  • shortness of breath
  • weight loss
  • fever

Mental symptoms of thyroid cancers are rare. 

Thyroid imbalance treatment

Treatment of thyroid issues depends on the root cause.


There’s currently no cure for hypothyroidism.

In most cases, the treatment for this condition is hormone replacement therapy with the synthetic hormone levothyroxine. 

Generic levothyroxine medications have brand names, including:


Hypothyroidism treatment may involve:

  • Antithyroid drugs: Also called thionamide drugs. They block the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Some options are:
  • Radioactive iodine (RAI): These drugs destroy cells in the thyroid, limiting or stopping the production of thyroid hormones. They include:
    • Hicon
    • Iodotope
    • I3odine Max
  • Surgery: In some cases, a doctor may recommend surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland.

After RAI or surgery, some people may need to take synthetic thyroid hormones to avoid developing hypothyroidism.

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Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer treatment can vary depending on the cancer stage and type.

Still, first-line treatment is typically similar to that of hyperthyroidism, involving RAI and surgery. It’s uncommon for doctors to treat thyroid cancer with chemotherapy and radiation.

Does antidepressant treatment affect the thyroid?

There’s limited evidence that antidepressants affect thyroid function.

A small 2022 study involving 29 people with hypothyroidism suggests that antidepressants and antipsychotic medications might lead to hypothyroidism in some people.

Also, one 2020 review noted that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors might slightly decrease thyroid function. 

Still, evidence is not yet strong enough to confidently state that antidepressants can cause thyroid disorders. 


Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer are some examples of thyroid conditions. They cause different symptoms and require different treatment approaches. 

Some studies suggest a possible link between thyroid health and depression, trauma, and antidepressant medications.

Still, more research is necessary in all these areas to better understand how your thyroid may affect your mental health. 

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