When Depression Isn’t Really Depression

When Depression Isn't Really Depression

This is my story about having hypothyroidism and getting it properly treated

 

Is it Depression?

 

We should all know the signs of depression at this point. Most of us have gone through it, and if you haven’t you’ve probably seen a commercial about some medication for depression listing off all the symptoms.

You probably feel like:

  • You’re sad/upset and don’t know why
  • You’re tired all the time
  • You can’t get yourself to do basic things (like shower, eat, etc.)
  • Things look hopeless
  • You’ve lost interest things that once brought you joy
  • Anxiety is coming along for the ride
  • You’re always irritable for no reason
  • You can’t control your emotions
  • You appetite changes (usually extreme ends to not eating a lot or eating everything in sight)

 

If you felt some or all of these things, you’d assume it’s your depression acting up, right? Well, if you’re someone who is being treated for depression by a mental health professional and you start to get flare ups of depressive episodes that are happened more often than previously, it might not be your depression causing it.

Related: Mental Health and a Depressive Funk

 

What is Hypothyroidism?

 

The WebMD definition of Hypothyroidism is:

 

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones.

 

While that’s the what it is in the most technical sense of the word, that doesn’t help knowing what it actually causes. It wasn’t until I started researching some of the symptoms I was having along with my depression (and the recommendation by my psychiatrist to get tested) that I realized what was going on.

My personal symptoms were:

Extreme Fatigue

I’m talking about being at work and falling asleep at my desk kind of tired. It seemingly came out of nowhere. One week I was relatively okay, the next I couldn’t keep my eyes open and was scared to drive home some times because of how exhausted I felt.

 

Brittle Nails

I have eczema, so my nails were never the best to begin with, but this was the first symptom I noticed before the fatigue kicked in. I was trying to grow my nails out and they literally kept splitting in layers. I was given the recommendation of OPI’s Nail Strengthener, which I promptly started using. But it wasn’t until after I started using it and my nails were still peeling that I knew something else was up.

 

When Depression Isn't Really Depression

 

Increased Sensitivity to Cold

This actually caught the attention of some of my coworkers before me. I’m normally the one sitting with my desk fan on in the middle of winter, sometimes taking a break to stand outside if the office temperature got too hot. But when I started wearing jackets indoors in the spring, my supervisor noticed almost immediately.

 

More Hair Loss Than Usual

Hair loss is a thing. There’s a reason you always have to clean out your brushes after a while because of the loose hair that’s hanging out waiting to be taken away by the brush. But this is something more than that. I’m blonde, so I wasn’t able to see it accumulate in the shower like people with darker hair can do, what made me notice something was that I had to clean my brush out every other day and sometimes every day.

Depression

I was dragging myself out the door to go to work. I had no appetite, and when I did I would eat garbage to give me that quick boost so I would stop feeling so exhausted all the time. I definitely took a day or two off around this time because I would just wake up crying for no reason and knew I couldn’t be productive at work.

 

thyroid quote

 

Related: Step-by-Step Self Care Guide

Getting Treatment

At the suggestion of my psychiatrist who thought something else was up with my insides when my I thought my depression was slowly spinning out of control, I got a blood test done. I don’t remember the specifics it tests for, but what stood out to me was that my TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone) was in the “high” levels.

What is considered a high level varies from place to place, but the average I’ve seen is either 3.0 or 4.0.

I scored just above 4.0 at 4.1. My general doctor at the time refused to believe this was a problem, despite me listing off all of the symptoms I had, how my psychiatrist had suggested the test, etc. I tried to fight with her about it, even taking the suggested vitamins for a month to see if I felt better (note: I didn’t, though was low on those vitamins to begin with) I had to change doctors to someone who was more willing to listen to me. Thankfully, my current general doctor is totally up for that.

I recently started to feel the depression coming back. I didn’t want to go to my psychiatrist right away because messing around with depression medication is a lot harder than it is with thyroid medication, so I scheduled a blood test for 6 months out from my physical. Turns out my little inkling was right.

While my TSH levels were within the standard, not everyone can be normal at any level. Some people feel better on the lower side of normal and some feel better on the higher side. So in a trial, we’ve upped my dosage just a smidgen.

OH MY GOD

It’s only been less than a week and I started to feel a difference in a few days. I have energy, I’m motivated, I don’t get so irritable all the time (though work things can still annoy me). I’m more of a perked up person. I’m dressing better, putting on makeup most days, and when I’m not, still spritzing my favorite perfume I found while decluttering my apartment.

It’s like my world has turned upside down, but in a good way! I always felt like there was still something wrong even though I was taking a cocktail of medication for things. I had always felt like I could just go back to sleep at any moment, that I could spend all day in bed and not feel guilty for sleeping the day and night away. But now… it’s fantastic.

Related: How to Deal With Mental Health: Take Back Millennial

 

XO

 

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