ADHD, your thyroid and treatment.
Physicians were more adequately equipped to diagnose and treat thyroid disorders prior to the development of laboratory testing. At the turn of the 20th century, physicians were taught about the importance of a careful examination of the patient, and also to take into account the huge spectrum of factors that affect the vital balance of hormones, which in turn affects every cell in the body.
In modern medicine, the crucial role of the endocrine system has been lost, both in the literature and in the examination room. Twenty-first century medicine misses the importance of the clinical diagnosis as opposed to the laboratory diagnosis.
For example, blood tests may only identify 2% to 5% of the hypothyroid cases, often leaving many hypothyroid individuals classified as “normal”, while their thyroid deficiency leaves them vulnerable to everything from heart disease to depression.
We now have many hyperactive (ADHD) children on Ritalin, whose actual problem is low thyroid. We now have depressed adults taking a pharmacopoeia of psychotropic drugs, many with serious side effects, treating symptoms and not the cause. Today, infertility clinics are filled with women who can’t conceive, yet no one has ever property evaluated their endocrine systems.
And, as mentioned in a research study in the February 2012 edition of the journal Thyroid, it stated the following conclusion:
Our findings imply that the elevated titers of TPOAbs during pregnancy impact children’s risk of problem behavior, in particular, attention deficit/hyperactivity. The observed effect is only partially explained by maternal TSH levels. These findings may point to a specific mechanism of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in children. Nevertheless, we can only speculate about public health implication of the study, as there is no specific treatment for TPOAb-positive pregnant women with normal thyroid function.
This is quite significant, as we all have heard “your TSH is normal so you are fine.” However, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology in June 2007 showed that
Despite being within the normal range, high TSH concentrations are associated with a lower cognitive function, and high TSH and low free T4 with ADHD symptoms in healthy preschoolers.
This study suggested that if the TSH was just in the upper 25% of the NORMAL range, that there was a correlation with learning disorders and ADHD. These findings were also supported in another research study in J Child Psychol Psychiatry 1996 Jul;37(5):579-85, which found that higher levels of thyroid hormones correlated with increased distractability.
As with the maternal study, these risks were increased with just subclinical hypothyroid, and even with normal thyroid and just antibodies.
Here are a few studies on the overlapping symptoms of thyroid disease and ADHD.
• A 2007 Discover article entitled, Misdiagnosing ADHD, author Mark Cohen describes the case of a 12-year old girl whose mother was worried that she was showing signs of having ADHD. In what could be a story line right out of the medical drama, House, Cohen struggles over an appropriate diagnosis for the young patient who presents with difficulties at school including inattention and disorganization. Yet in exploring further, it is found that her difficulties began within the past year of being seen and she did not have enough of the symptoms of ADHD to warrant a diagnosis. Her lab tests showed that she may have resistance to thyroid hormone, which can cause ADHD symptoms but is rare. In the end they found that the girl had early symptoms of Grave’s disease which causes hyperthyroidism. Some of these symptoms may include hyperactivity, nervousness, moodiness, forgetfulness, and inattention. When treated for her thyroid problem, her problems at school disappeared.
• In 1997 Science Daily reported on research showing a link between hyperactivity and thyroid hormones. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers found a positive correlation between elevated levels of certain thyroid hormones and hyperactivity/impulsivity in a select group of patients. They looked at patients who had resistance to thyroid hormone, a thyroid disease characterized by elevated levels of serum T3 and T4. They found that high concentrations of T3 and T4 were significantly and positively correlated with hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms but not with symptoms of inattention.
As you may have guessed, proper testing is very important for many reasons. Hypothyroidism can go undiagnosed and also misdiagnosed as ADHD. Based on medical history and emerging science, it might be beneficial, before giving potentially toxic medications to patients who show signs of ADHD, for doctors to carefully screen for iron deficiency and hypothyroidism, as the symptoms are very similar. If you or someone you know suffers with issues of hyperactivity and problems concentrating, make sure to get proper testing and follow some form of a paleo-style diet. You’ll also want to exclude Gluten, Soy, Corn and Casein from daily caloric intake. Talk to your healthcare professional about vitamin and mineral deficiencies, anemia, inflammation markers and hormone blood testing. Thyroid dysfunction can cause symptoms such as the inability to concentrate and memory problems. These symptoms overlap with ADHD symptoms of inattention and forgetfulness. Talk to your doctor!