Any time I hear of someone receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I cringe. The reason I cringe is because the name of the disorder is essentially identifying the symptoms of manic depression. But I see the diagnosis as an admission by the doctor that they really don't know what's going on. All they can see is the deep lows of depression and the big mood swings to the other extreme. And the usual treatment is drugs to even out the mood swings.
The problem is obvious. Unless you know the cause of the mood swings, the drugs are simply masking the problem. They're not really treating it.
So what's causing these huge mood swings? Well, it could be a number of things. It could be as simple as an extremely selfish person who gets really depressed when things don't go their way, and really happy when things do go their way. I've seen diagnosed cases like this. The intense emotional response actually causes changes in the body consistent with bipolar symptoms. In these cases, the drugs simply dull the emotional response to outward stimulation.
But there could be a real physiological issue that's causing the mood swings. One of those physiological issues could be Hashimoto's disease. Hashimoto's is an autoimmune thyroid disease. When the disease flares up, the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. As this happens, the thyroid floods the body with thyroid hormone. With too much thyroid hormone, the body begins to demonstrate hyperactivity, irritability, and an inability to sleep. These symptoms are consistent with the manic episodes of bipolar disorder.
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After the immune attack is over, the thyroid stops dumping its hormone, and the person enters a hypothyroid state. The symptoms of which include depression and fatigue. These symptoms are consistent with the depressive state of bipolar disorder.
Studies confirm the connection between Hashimoto's and bipolar. One study from 2009 found a high rate of Hashimoto's disease in those with bipolar disorder. And other studies show that treating bipolar isn't as effective if the treatment doesn't include treatment for thyroid disease. What's more, other mood and anxiety disorders (including depression) have a similar correlation to Hashimoto's. So if you struggle with any mood disorder, ask your doctor to test for Hashimoto's. It's quite possible it could be at the root of your issue.
So how do you treat Hashimoto's? If you have this disease, I strongly recommend you work with an alternative-minded doctor for treatment. It can be complicated. However, if your symptoms are mild, you could start with Iodoral and magnesium. Both of these are essential minerals for everyone. And they're a good place to start. In some cases, it can relieve the symptoms of Hashimoto's if there aren't other complicating factors. You also need to look at your diet, as a high-carb diet can make the disease worse. More complicated cases may need to look at adrenal support, hormone treatment, neurotransmitter evaluation, and other contributing issues.
And if you've received a bipolar diagnosis, find a doctor that is willing to look deeper and find the cause of your mood swings.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND
Kupka RW, Nolen WA, et al. High rate of autoimmune thyroiditis in bipolar disorder: lack of association with lithium exposure. Biol Psychiatry. 2002 Feb 15;51(4):305-11.
Cole DP, Thase ME, et al. Slower treatment response in bipolar depression predicted by lower pretreatment thyroid function. Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Jan;159(1):116-21.
Frye MA, Denicoff KD, et al. Association Between Lower Serum Free T4 and Greater Mood Instability and Depression in Lithium-Maintained Bipolar Patients. Am J Psychiatry.156:1909-1914, December 1999.
Carta MG, Loviselli A, et al. The link between thyroid autoimmunity (antithyroid peroxidase autoantibodies) with anxiety and mood disorders in the community: a field of interest for public health in the future. BMC Psychiatry. 2004 Aug 18;4:25.