When De­pres­sive Symp­toms Are Not Caused By De­pres­sion

Men­tal Health Aware­ness

The Victoria Standard - - HEALTH / WELLNESS - CINDY MACRAE

I did not want to write this col­umn. When I paused to think about it, the sud­den lack of in­ter­est struck me as odd. I love writ­ing this col­umn and love all the pos­i­tive feed­back I have been get­ting from read­ers. How­ever, the col­umn was just one thing on a long list of things I did not want to do; walk the dog, so­cial­ize, cook, do laun­dry, clean the house or any­thing else on the list of nor­mal daily ac­tiv­i­ties. The win­ter blues had set in big time. Or had they?

Six weeks ago I was fine, busily mak­ing plans for the next chap­ter of my life and rel­ish­ing in the joy a new puppy had brought to the fam­ily. Well, for every­one but the cat, but she is ad­just­ing. I ad­mit there is not much plea­sure to be had in clean­ing the house, at least not for me, though there is some small sem­blance of ac­com­plish­ment on those days it seems like a mam­moth task. For me, the far big­ger hint that some­thing was re­ally wrong was that I was los­ing in­ter­est in my in­ter­ests; pets, na­ture, re­la­tion­ships with my friends. I was also plagued by low en­ergy, per­sis­tent sad­ness, and dif­fi­culty con­cen­trat­ing. I could not write a col­umn be­cause I knew I could not con­cen­trate long enough.

By the time I fig­ured out what was go­ing on my hair was brit­tle, my voice was hoarse, my eyes were sen­si­tive to light and I was cold all the time. With my doc­tor’s per­mis­sion I ad­justed my thy­roid med­i­ca­tion slightly and within two days I was a dif­fer­ent per­son. I was my­self. You see, at the same time I was di­ag­nosed with Ma­jor De­pres­sion I was also di­ag­nosed with Hy­pothy­roidism. With this con­di­tion the thy­roid gland does not re­lease a suf­fi­cient amount of hor­mones. Among other things suf­fer­ers ex­pe­ri­ence low mood, fa­tigue and di­min­ished con­cen­tra­tion, all hall­marks of De­pres­sion.

In fact, I have al­ways won­dered what would have hap­pened if my thy­roid prob­lem had been caught ear­lier. Would I have es­caped a ma­jor de­pres­sive episode? I will never know the an­swer to that ques­tion. Be­cause of the link, how­ever, this is my most im­por­tant health is­sue as far as self-care goes. For me a slight change in life­style can throw the thy­roid out of bal­ance. That means if I gain or lose five pounds my med­i­ca­tion may need ad­just­ment, or if I be­gin a vig­or­ous ex­er­cise reg­i­men, or when I in­evitably fall off the ex­er­cise wagon (LOL). It can also take up to six weeks for the re­sults of any ad­just­ment to show up in the re­quired blood test.

There is a long list of con­di­tions and dis­or­ders that can mimic De­pres­sion: Hy­po­glycemia, Chronic Fa­tigue Syn­drome, Di­a­betes and Vi­ta­min D De­fi­ciency just to name a few. Men­tal ill­ness is of­ten dif­fi­cult to di­ag­nose, be­cause it re­lies largely on a check­list of self-re­ported symp­toms. Ac­cord­ing to a 2012 ar­ti­cle in Cur­rent Psy­chi­a­try, “26 to 45 per­cent of pa­tients re­ferred for de­pres­sion did not meet the di­ag­nos­tic cri­te­ria for a de­pres­sive ill­ness”. So if you are be­ing treated for De­pres­sion and are not feel­ing bet­ter a blood test may be a good next step.

Hey, look at that! I wrote the col­umn I did not want to write. I am def­i­nitely feel­ing much bet­ter.

Cindy Macrae is a jour­nal­ist, men­tal health ad­vo­cate and stigma-bust­ing sur­vivor of Ma­jor De­pres­sion who would like to re­mind read­ers that no col­umn should be taken as a sub­sti­tute for med­i­cal ad­vice.

There is a long list of con­di­tions and dis­or­ders that can mimic De­pres­sion

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