Good Energy Production = Good Moods

I talk a lot about metabolism and thyroid function since it’s such an important part of healthy hormones. Our metabolism is how our bodies make energy. According to Dr. Aviva Romm,

“It’s thought that millions of women are walking around with low thyroid function and don’t know it, causing symptoms of depression, and more.

As many as 15% of women on an antidepressant for depression might actually have a thyroid problem that has been misdiagnosed and mistreated as depression – and need thyroid treatment, not an antidepressant!”

Dr. Aviva Romm is a very talented functional-minded physician that focuses a lot on women’s thyroid health. She’s one of the few people I’ve heard speak about the connection between thyroid health and mental health.

I want to start by saying I’m not against medication. I have many clients that utilize antidepressants and antianxiety medications to support them in their healing. What I’m not for is treating symptoms and ignoring the root of the issue. Someone might need an antidepressant and find that it does in fact help. What they also likely need is some metabolic and thyroid support. They at least deserve an investigation into this area to ensure they are covering all their bases when it comes to their entire health picture.

The Link Between Thyroid Health & Depression

Our cells all have a little engine that takes the nutrients from the food we eat and turns them into energy (ATP) and disperse this energy throughout the body. When we don’t eat enough food, we don’t make enough energy. Another important aspect of this energy production is thyroid hormone. Our thyroid helps dictate how much energy the engines in those cells will produce. Adequate levels of thyroid hormone and its ability to get inside the cells allows our cells to use more oxygen and generate more energy and heat for the rest of the body. Without adequate thyroid hormone our cells won’t produce enough energy.

This lack of energy shows up in the body in a number of ways:

  • lower body temperature–cold hands and feet, feeling cold often
  • low mood
  • slower cognitive function
  • low progesterone
  • low testosterone
  • high estrogen
  • acne
  • anxiety
  • depression

There are a number of research articles that dig into the connection more. A few interesting connections between thyroid hormone production and depressive symptoms:

  • participants with low T4 hormone production (inactive form of thyroid hormone) had depressive symptoms
  • participants with normal T4 but low T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone–the body has to conver it) also had depressive symptoms
  • participants with normal but not optimal levels of both T4 and T3 experienced depressive symptoms
  • patients with depression and no other illnesses all had low levels of T3 (active form of thyroid hormone)

This shows a couple things:

  1. There is a clear connection between low thyroid hormone levels and depression, but you can also have suboptimal levels and experience depression.
  2. Thyroid function isn’t always as simple as low hormone levels. It’s also about how our bodies are using that thyroid hormone. Calcium and potassium levels are very important for this. This is why I do hair mineral testing with all of my clients.

Want to nerd out? Here are some helpful articles:

A Comprehensive Healing Plan

As you can see, having a comprehensive approach to healing is important. Whether it is a mental health concern or hormone imbalance, we need to zoom out and look at the entire health picture.

Areas for a Comprehensive Healing Plan:

  • Nutrition
  • Sleep quality and quanity
  • Stress–assessing current stressors and reducing stress within the body (especially with food)
  • Light exposure
  • Relaxation

Sometimes eating “clean” isn’t always the best focus. It can leave us restricting foods that are actually healthy for us (like dairy, fruit, and starchy veggies) and lead to under eating. This is why we cannot ignore nutrition, getting adequate vitamins and minerals through nutrient dense foods, and ensuring we are eating enough. Eating nutrient dense foods like those below, provides the energy, vitamins, and minerals we need to fuel our thyroid and support both mental and hormonal health.

Learn more about your thyroid in my free thyroid-mineral connection webinar and check out my podcast episode supporting optimal thyroid health with kaely, rd.

reminder: i’m currently taking on 1:1 clients. if you’d like to explore what it would be like to work together and if we are a good fit, fill out this form to get more details!​

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

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