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July 03, 2023 6 min read

If you're taking levothyroxine, the standard medication for hypothyroidism according to the American Thyroid Association, you may experience mood changes. Mood swings can be a frustrating and confusing side effect of this medication. So, what's the connection between levothyroxine and mood swings? Keep reading to find out!

Can hypothyroidism cause mood swings?

Before diving deep into the connection between levothyroxine and mood swings, it's crucial to grasp the fact that thyroid imbalance, specifically hypothyroidism, can directly lead to emotional fluctuations, including mood swings. So, can hypothyroidism really be a trigger for mood swings?

There's a clear 'yes' in response to this. Hypothyroidism, a prevalent thyroid disorder characterized by an underactive thyroid gland, can indeed inflict significant emotional disturbances in affected individuals. The hormonal imbalance caused by an underperforming thyroid can lead to sudden and unanticipated shifts in mood, oscillating between highs and lows, which could potentially disrupt everyday life.

Moreover, anxiety and depression are also common companions of this thyroid disorder. These are significant emotional symptoms that could make one's day-to-day existence quite challenging. Unfortunately, these symptoms of hypothyroidism often tend to be overlooked or misdiagnosed as being linked to other conditions, making the treatment process a bit challenging.

Hypothyroidism doesn't just weigh heavily on your physical wellness but equally affects your emotional health, contributing to mood swings, anxiety, and depressive episodes. Effectively managing this thyroid disorder could, therefore, be a key to regaining emotional balance and overall well-being.

What is levothyroxine?

Levothyroxine is a prescription medication that is used primarily to treat certain types of thyroid disorders. It's a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone known as thyroxine, or T4.

Your thyroid, which is a small gland located at the base of your neck, produces two primary hormones: T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). These hormones are absolutely critical for regulating your body's metabolism, which is your body's process of creating energy from the food you eat.

However, problems arise when the body doesn't produce enough of these two crucial hormones (hypothyroidism). Hypothyroidism can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms, from fatigue and a feeling of being cold to depression and weight gain.

Levothyroxine steps in to fill this hormonal gap for people with an underactive thyroid. By mimicking the function of thyroxine, levothyroxine helps to normalize thyroid hormone levels in the body. By doing so, levothyroxine helps balance out the thyroid hormone levels in the body, combatting the wide range of physical symptoms and psychological symptoms often associated with hypothyroidism, including mood swings.

Despite its benefits, though, it's crucial to remember that levothyroxine is typically used to manage this common thyroid disease rather than act as a definitive cure. As such, patients with hypothyroidism often need to take this medication daily for their entire lives to maintain proper hormonal balance and keep symptoms at bay.

Why do I feel mood swings all the time, even with levothyroxine? What can I do about it?

If you're noticing persistent mood swings even after regularly taking levothyroxine, know that this can happen due to a number of reasons. Here are some potential explanations and what you can do about it.

1. Wrong dosage

The importance of getting the dosage of levothyroxine just right can't be overstated. This is because the dosage of levothyroxine isn't a one-size-fits-all scenario—it's highly personalized to each individual's body and the severity of their thyroid disorder.

When you start on levothyroxine, your healthcare provider determines your initial dosage based on several factors. These include your weight, age, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and T4 test results, other health problems you might have, and other medications you're taking.

If the dosage is too high, your body might react as if it's in a hyperthyroid state (an overactive thyroid), which can cause a slew of symptoms, including heightened anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. On the flip side, if the dosage is too low, your body might still be operating as if it has an underactive thyroid. This could lead to persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism, including fatigue, weight gain, depression, and, yes, those hard-to-handle mood swings.

And here's another crucial point: the optimal levothyroxine dosage for you when you first start on the medication might change over time. Things like weight loss or gain, aging, pregnancy, menopause, and new health conditions can all affect your thyroxine needs.

2. T4 to T3 conversion

Ineffective T4 to T3 conversion could certainly be another factor impacting your mood, even whilst you're taking levothyroxine.

Let's break this down a bit: When functioning normally, your body naturally converts T4 (thyroxine) into T3 (triiodothyronine), the more active thyroid hormone that impacts various processes in the body. This conversion process primarily happens in the liver and kidneys.

As levothyroxine is a T4 medication, your body needs to convert it into T3 for it to be effective. However, not everyone's body converts T4 to T3 efficiently. Various factors can impact this conversion, including high-stress levels, nutritional deficiencies (like insufficient amounts of zinc or selenium), and certain chronic conditions (like diabetes or liver disease).

If your body is having difficulty converting T4 to T3, this might explain why your mood swings persist despite taking levothyroxine. In such cases, a healthcare provider might consider adding a direct T3 medication, like liothyronine, to your treatment regimen or switching to a combination synthetic T3/T4 medication or natural desiccated thyroid (NDT).

Some individuals may find that NDT better aligns with their body's needs and could experience symptom relief or improved well-being as a result. In fact, thyroid research reveals that a significantly higher number of people – 48.6%, to be precise – who tried both NDT and levothyroxine expressed a preference for NDT over levothyroxine. VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online, can be a great place to start. This NDT supplement contains porcine thyroid powder, spica prunellae siccus extract, ashwagandha extract, and selenium yeast. Each of these ingredients offers amazing benefits for your thyroid health.

3. Other health conditions

Your mood swings may not be solely related to your hypothyroidism or levothyroxine treatment. Other health conditions can also influence your mood. For example, hormonal changes linked to menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause can all induce mood swings in women.

Meanwhile, commonly co-occurring conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or autoimmune disorders can also alter your emotional equilibrium. Additionally, mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are frequently associated with mood changes.

Furthermore, certain medications used for other health problems may have side effects involving mood changes.

If you believe another health condition might be contributing to your mood swings, it would be worth discussing this with your healthcare provider. They can help rule out other causes and adjust your treatments as needed.

4. Lifestyle factors

Your lifestyle can contribute significantly to mood swings, regardless of thyroid disorder management.

Stress is a significant part of our lives and, in excess, can cause emotional ups and downs. High-stress situations can lead to hormonal changes in the body, which might exacerbate mood swings. Practicing stress relief measures, such as regular physical activity, yoga, meditation, or being in nature, can be beneficial.

Diet is another crucial factor. Poor nutrition, skipping meals, or an overdose of caffeine or sugar can cause blood sugar fluctuations, potentially impacting mood. Consuming a balanced, nutritious, and healthy diet can help maintain mood stability.

Lack of sleep or a disrupted sleep pattern can also lead to mood changes. When we sleep, our bodies recover and rejuvenate, and the lack of it can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, playing havoc with our moods. Ensuring quality sleep hygiene can be beneficial in promoting overall mood stability.

Alcohol and recreational drugs can also interfere with mood stability. These substances can mess with our brain chemistry and hormone balance, often leading to mood ups and downs.

Simply put, adopting a healthy and balanced lifestyle can go a long way in managing mood swings in conjunction with appropriate treatment for hypothyroidism.

5. Levothyroxine absorption

Maintaining proper absorption of levothyroxine is crucial for optimal thyroid function and overall health. If you're experiencing mood swings while taking this thyroid medication, it's possible that your body isn't properly absorbing the medication. Certain foods and supplements, including calcium, iron, and high-fiber foods, can interfere with levothyroxine absorption.

To ensure you're getting the most out of your levothyroxine medication, it's important to take it on an empty stomach for at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything other than water. Additionally, avoid taking supplements or medications that may interfere with absorption within four hours of taking your levothyroxine dose.

Conclusion: Mood swings are a side effect of levothyroxine

Levothyroxine plays an essential role in managing hypothyroidism. However, like many medications, it can have side effects, and mood swings are one of them. Factors such as the precision of the medication dosage, efficient conversion of T4 to T3 in the body, the presence of other health issues, and certain lifestyle elements can contribute to these mood fluctuations.

However, it's important to note that each individual's response to levothyroxine can be different. Some people respond very well, while others might continue to struggle with symptoms or side effects.

Intriguingly, there's an alternative to levothyroxine that's gaining recognition among many people living with hypothyroidism: Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT). Research shows a considerable preference for NDT among those who have used both it and levothyroxine, indicating it might be a viable alternative for managing thyroid disorders more effectively for some people. If you're thinking of making the switch, VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online, can be a great option.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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