Wednesday, January 23, 2013

depression and hair loss-- uh, no thanks.

entire books have been written, and will be written, on the subject of depression. i think that everyone has some idea what depression is, thanks to the media. " depression hurts, blaa, blaa, can help" for one example. it basically boils down to our thyroid glands, when we suffer from depression related to  hypothyroidism,not being  able to supply the hormone necessary to help our other organs function properly. as a pharmacist, i see so many people on antidepressants. i know that these medications can really help in some cases. but, i would love to see doctors take the time to find out if the depression is caused by a brain  chemical imbalance, a hypothyroid condition, diabetes or other autoimmune disorders, a life event ( death of a spouse,etc) before antidepressants are prescribed. i will give you an example. i know a young woman who was suffering from depression and was immediately prescribed antidepressants. she improved somewhat, but was still having depression along with other symptoms that would indicate a thyroid disorder. she was finally tested for thyroid disorder, and BINGO, they discovered that she was hypothyroid. she was then prescribed thyroid hormone replacement, and is doing much better. it makes more sense to me, and is better therapy, to determine what factors are causing the depression and then use that information to determine treatment.

antidepressants can be a good option, of course, but so can talk therapy, exercise, and of course, just getting a diagnosis of hypothyroid disease, if that is the case,  and receiving treatment for that . we live in an " instant gratification" society. we want results, and we want them now. i understand that the patient wants to feel better right away . but i would like to see more investigation and more communication between the patient and health care providers before antidepressants are prescribed.  it is important to get this symptom of hypothyroidism under control because it has such an effect on the quality of our life. this is how things would work in my perception of an ideal world:  if you are depressed- and suffer on a fairly regular basis, get tested for hypothyroid disease. if you are hypothyroid, your doctor would prescribe a thyroid  hormone replacement drug for you. then use talk therapy and exercise and see if that helps. if you still do not have the quality of life that you desire, the doctor would try an antidepressant drug.

on the subject of hair loss, it also results from the changes in our metabolism due to decreased thyroid hormone. you only need to look at any women's magazine these days to realize how important good hair is! i would like to be able to tell everyone that there is a magic pill out there for hair replacement. there is not, i am afraid. being on the correct thyroid replacement dose helps of course. multivitamins may help somewhat- especially the b vitamins, but it not guaranteed. what may help a little is  to use a gentle, organic if possible, shampoo and conditioner. and of course, try not to overuse the flat iron or curling iron. these can be hard on our hair and we need to take care of the hair that we have! i had quite a bit of hair loss after the I-131 treatment  and my thyroid removal  surgery. but i am thankful that i did not lose all of my hair like some women do  who have "traditional" chemo after, say, breast cancer. one benefit of my job, i guess you could say, is that i always- every day- see people who have more serious issues to deal with than i do. that being as it may, i think that next time i will discuss the side effects, benefits,etc, of the I-131 treatment. it is a form of " chemo" and it is certainly not a walk in the park, as some doctors would like for us to believe.

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