The Difference Between Hypothyroidism and Depression

woman with hypothyroidism smiling in front of a grocery bag of nutritious food

Living with a mental health disorder can affect many aspects of a person’s life, such as maintaining a job, attending school, and can interfere with relationships with loved ones. Depression, a common mental health challenge, can cause problems with sleep, intense feelings of sadness, and other wide ranges of symptoms. Another condition known as hypothyroidism can cause symptoms of depression. Hypothyroidism can easily be mistaken for depression due to shared symptoms, but there is a difference between them. Learning how to spot their differences can help you seek the most effective treatment.


The thyroid gland is located in the lower area of the neck that releases hormones and affects metabolism. When the thyroid regulates metabolism, it affects every cell, tissue, and organ, including muscles, bones, skin, heart, and brain. Organs and internal systems become slower when thyroid hormone levels are too low, leading to a range of symptoms, including depression.

Hypothyroidism can manifest at any time and can be caused by an autoimmune disease, thyroid surgery, radiation therapy, or medication. Sometimes hypothyroidism can be caused by a pituitary disorder, iodine deficiency, pregnancy, or congenital condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, other symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include:

  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Pain and stiffness in joints
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Slow heart rate
  • Impaired memory

Over 10 million people in America suffer from hypothyroidism. A simple blood test is completed to diagnose this condition. A clinician may also feel a patient’s neck to assess the size of the thyroid glans. They may check for physical signs of hypothyroidism, such as brittle nails and dry skin.


Depression is a mood disorder that can interfere with a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. Depression is more than just feeling sad, and a person cannot just snap out of it. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression is “the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.”

The loss of a loved one, losing a job, going through a divorce, financial struggles, and other challenging circumstances can make a person feel sad, scared, and alone. These feelings are normal reactions to many of life’s events. People occasionally feel sad, but for people with depression, the symptoms are much more severe. Depression can be debilitating and paralyzing. When you have depression, enjoying normal activities can be very difficult. In extreme cases, depression can lead to self-harm or thoughts of suicide.

Depression can disrupt standard sleep patterns and make you extremely tired. It can cause feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, and hopelessness. Depression can interfere with relationships, increase or decrease appetite, and make you feel anxious. People diagnosed with depression often also suffer from anxiety.

Similarities and Differences

Hypothyroidism and depression share similar symptoms, such as depressed mood, weight gain, loss of interest in sex, concentration problems, and fatigue. Since these symptoms are identical in both conditions, they can be misdiagnosed. This means that a person who takes antidepressants for depression might need to be taking thyroid medication instead.

More typical signs in patients with depression can include insomnia, feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, and thoughts of death or suicide. If an individual is struggling with hypothyroidism, they will not exhibit these symptoms. Symptoms that point to a more likely diagnosis of hypothyroidism include being overly sensitive to cold temperatures, constipation, muscle cramps, hair loss, and slow heart rate.

The Importance of Good Nutrition

Good nutrition is critical in recovery from depression. Developing a sensible eating plan will keep an individual feeling healthy and provide the proper nutrients. Eating vegetables, whole grains, fruits and limiting fat, sugar, and caffeine can boost mood. Depression can cause fatigue, disrupt standard sleep patterns, and lower a person’s energy. A diet with good nutrition can boost energy levels, elevate mood, and benefit physical health.

A person diagnosed with hypothyroidism should avoid foods high in soy protein because significant amounts of soy can hinder the absorption of thyroid hormones. They should avoid too much iodine because it could interfere with thyroid hormone levels. Maintaining a healthy diet makes you feel good and helps the digestive system run efficiently. Good nutrition also keeps your heart strong and promotes a healthy metabolism.

Treatment for Hypothyroidism and Depression

Blood tests can measure thyroid function and determine a hypothyroidism diagnosis. Hypothyroidism is treatable, and thyroid replacement therapy can be tailored to each individual’s needs. Hypothyroidism treatment also depends on a person’s age, medical history, and other factors. At Achieve Concierge, we perform an in-depth patient assessment to develop a custom treatment plan for each patient.

Treatment is available for depression and commonly includes medication, psychotherapy, light therapy, and exercise. If you or a loved one struggles with hypothyroidism or symptoms of depression, it is best to seek professional help.

Hypothyroidism shares some similarities with symptoms of depression, but both require treatment specific to each condition. If you suspect you may be struggling with depression or hypothyroidism, it is best to seek professional help. Our caring and knowledgeable staff at Achieve Concierge wants you to feel comfortable and tailor a treatment plan based on your specific needs. We work as a team to help you identify strategies to manage mental health symptoms so you can live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. We deliver a personalized plan so you can focus on achieving total wellness that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. Achieve Concierge provides psychiatric services and care, neuropsychology, adult and child psychology, naturopathic care, yoga instruction, and many other professionals and clinical services. We offer same-day appointments in person, as well as telemedicine appointments. For more information on the services Achieve Concierge can provide you, call us today at (619) 393-5871.

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