“Your thyroid levels are in the normal range now, take these antidepressant’s, they will help with your depression.” These may be some of the most dangerous words a low thyroid sufferer will ever hear.
According to the Endocrine Society, upwards to 80 or 90 percent of hypothyroidism in the United States, is caused from an autoimmune mechanism called Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroid. This means the cause of the hypofunction is the immune system attacking your own gland.
Literally the immune system slowly chews up the thyroid gland and you lose normal thyroid hormone output. Over time your hormone levels will slowly decrease because it continually loses cells from the immune attack.
Here are 5 Warning Signs that you may have hypothyroidism from an immune mechanism, and that the treatment your are currently receiving is not adequate or complete enough for your particular condition:
1) The dose of your thyroid replacement hormone continually goes up over time.
If you are continually having your thyroid medication increased, this means that your are losing more and more thyroid function. Your immune system is most likely the culprit. Hormone replacement does not address the continual immune attack against the gland. If your doctor is not addressing the immune attack, you are going to continue to suffer.
2) You still suffer with hypothyroid symptoms, yet your doctor tells you that your thyroid is now “normal”.
If your latest labs show that your hormone levels are in the “normal range”, yet you continue to suffer with the same symptoms, you are most likely not getting the proper management of your condition.
This is a huge sign that you have Hashimoto’s disease. The proteins, called cytokines, that are used by the immune system to communicate amongst each other, block the hormone receptor sites. This means you can have normal hormone levels showing on a lab report, and still not have a normal thyroid metabolic responses. Working on the immune system is the only way to fix this problem.
3) Your doctor never checked for antibodies against the gland.
If you suffer with hypothyroidism, then you have a high probability of having Autoimmune Thyroid. If your doctor didn’t bother to check antibody levels, or refuses to check antibody levels, you are most likely not receiving the proper treatment. The two most important antibodies to check are Thyroid Perioxidase Antibodies (TPO Ab) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TBG Ab).
4) Your doctor continually checks your antibody levels.
This may seem counter-intuitive since I just mentioned that you should have your antibody levels checked. I include this because, replacement hormones do not affect the immune system. It makes no sense to continually check antibodies if the doctor is not doing any treatment to affect the immune system. If your doctor is trying to decrease your antibody levels with replacement therapy, you are not getting the proper treatment. Watch for this. It is a sign that your doctor really doesn’t understand the mechanisms causing your problem.
5) You begin to get individual prescriptions for various thyroid symptoms.
If you are getting treated with antidepressants for hypothyroid based depression, it means that the replacement hormone treatment is most likely not working. With Hashimoto’s you can have normal thyroid hormone levels and still suffer with symptoms, including depression. Treatment needs to be focused on immune modulation, if you want to fix the actual cause of the problem.
If you suffer with hypothyroidism, and you live in the United States, then the most likely reason you have this condition is from an autoimmune reaction called Hashimoto’s Disease. Treating this condition with replacement hormone, while ignoring the immune component, is like treating a slow bleed with blood transfusions and failing to stop the site of the bleed. Without immune modulation then the viscious cycle of thyroid gland destruction, by the immune system, will continue. You can use the warning signs outlined as a guide to help you determine if you are receiving the proper management of your hypothyroid condition.