Saturday, June 16, 2012
THE THYROID AND THE BRAIN
While doing some research for my book, I stumbled upon an interesting news story regarding thyroid disease. The article was about a murder trial and the defendant’s attorneys argued that a “mismanaged thyroid disease” led to her actions on that fateful day.
Intrigued, I sought after the court transcripts for this once high profile case. A thyroid expert, a psychiatrist traveled from Florida to a small little town in Indiana to testify. His credentials were a mile long.
I was awestruck by this man. His knowledge of thyroid disease was quite impressive. Even though I’m married, the temptation to purchase a plane ticket, go track this man down, fall on one knee and ask for his hand in marriage, was so immense. It is such a rarity to hear from someone with so much knowledge about the thyroid.
Here are some of the terms he used to describe thyroid symptoms that were unfamiliar to me, but his descriptions where oh so familiar:
Hyperthyroid Psychosis – Affects approximately five to ten percent of the U.S. population each year. Changes in a person’s mood occurs prior to psychosis, they feel nervous, jittery, shaky. They feel wound tight, dysphoric. They have a sense of dread, little things set them off and they become increasingly paranoid. The psychosis state varies from person to person. It depends on what is going on with them at the time and how well their nervous system is functioning. Primarily the presentation of hyperthyroid psychosis is either an agitated, manic or schizophrenic-like state. Thoughts are hard to control and reality is somewhat distorted.
Task Performance Impairment – A decreased attention span for those who are hypo or hyper-thyroid. They are easily distractible. They don’t always think clearly, they have trouble planning ahead. Complex tasks get compromised. Things that require sequential thinking is difficult.
Pronounced Stare-Because of the stimulation of the nervous system and changes in the way the eyelids come up, people have a very intense stare that almost looks like they’re boring a hole through you. In some cases, there’s tissue that accumulates behind the eye which causes the eyes to bug out of the head a little bit.
It is amazing to come across an MD who truly understands the intricacies of thyroid diseases. It also amazes me how thyroid disease can affect a person neurologically, yet, some health care professionals understand this and some do not. Every time I go to my Endo, I try to ask as many questions as I can (knowing I’m probably going to get a non-answer)…it is almost like a game, really.
One day I saw my Endo’s physician assistant, so I decided to ask her (thinking I may get a better answer from her), “Why do you think thyroid disease causes neurological dysfunction in some people?” She looked at me as if I had two heads. She had no idea what I was talking about. After a long pause, she answered my question by singling me out, as if I was the only one she had heard of with this issue. When I explained to her that I am not the only one struggling with cognitive deficiencies due to my thyroid disease, that there are in fact thousands of people frustrated because they are being treated for their thyroid disorders and yet they still don’t feel well both mentally and physically. She responded by saying, “Well the research just isn’t there.”
Hmmm, so it looks like I have to wait for a scientific study-plan to be formulated, tests to be done on animals, then the protocol to find humans to participate in case studies, schedule tests/procedures, years of scientific data collected, tabulated, presented and accepted. Ok, so I have to wait for that… and ya just can’t take my (the patient’s) word for it now?…That makes sense.
Crazy Thyroid Lady
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