You may not be aware, but there is a direct link between your thyroid and your brain and they communicate with each other all the time. When you learn a little more about this, you will be able to see what this means for you.
Most of all, you need to know that depression, lack of motivation, anxiety and grumpiness all come with thyroid conditions so they are not your fault. There is a physiological reason for all these conditions and I’m going to explain how that works here.
Thyroid Physiology Revisited
Before looking at that, I want to go back over some of the general physiology material I covered before to remind you how your thyroid and brain are connected.
It begins in your brain with a small sack of fluid that hangs down between your eyes called the pituitary gland. Above that, you have something called the hypothalamus.
What happens is:
- Your hypothalamus releases a hormone that tells the pituitary gland that the thyroid is a bit sluggish and needs some stimulation.
- The pituitary gland then releases TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and this stimulates the thyroid to produce T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine).
- These hormones are then used throughout the body to facilitate a range of important functions.
T3 is the active form of the hormone and is the one you need most as it impacts several areas of your neural physiology.
The Thyroid-Brain Connection
The first physiological function that T3 is going to impact is the maintenance of your microglia cells in your brain and spinal cord. Microglia cells act as an immune defense for your nervous system. For every neuron you have in your brain – and there are trillions of them – there are about 10 microglial cells, each one supporting the function of your immune system.
The T3 and T4 hormones produced by your thyroid are absolutely essential for stimulating the growth of the microglia cells. This is important because if those microglia cells are not growing, your body will decrease its production of something called myelin, which is the insulation that protects your nervous system.
When myelin production falls, you get trans-neural degeneration, which simply means that your brain will degenerate. This means there is a direct link between the decreased production of thyroid hormones and brain degeneration due to reduced microglial cell function.
Your Thyroid and Your Blood-Brain Barrier
This is only one problem that comes from reduced thyroid function, though. The other problem takes place in your blood-brain barrier. When your blood-brain barrier is not functioning properly it means that you don’t have a blood-brain filter, and if you’re not filtering your blood, it means that the information that gets to your brain is going to leave you feeling foggy – I’m sure brain fog is something you are familiar with.
Your Thyroid and Your Neurotransmitters
The next problem you’re going to have is that your neural transmitter production is going to be affected. These neurotransmitters include dopamine, acetylcholine, gaba and serotonin – just to name a few.
When you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, your body does not produce enough neurotransmitters, and when you don’t produce enough neurotransmitters you suffer with decreased brain function so you lose your motivation, you feel down and you get depressed.
Why Antidepressants Are Not The Answer
Unfortunately, most doctors medicate these symptoms with anti-depressants but this does not address the root cause of the problem, which is that your thyroid is under attack and isn’t functioning as it is supposed to.
By now you can probably see that the health of your thyroid affects how you feel emotionally as well as how you feel physically. This means that solving your thyroid problem is as important for your mental health as it is for your physical health.
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