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Use of T3 Thyroid Hormone for Treatment of Depression

If you are tired much of the time, your doctor will order blood tests for the two thyroid hormones called T3 and T4 and for the brain hormones called TSH and prolactin. If your TSH is high and your prolactin is normal, you are probably hypothyroid and need to take thyroid hormone to give you more energy and prevent heart and blood vessel damage. Exciting research shows that the thyroid hormone called T3 can help treat depression (1,2,3,4,5,6).

Psychotherapy often fails to control depression. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychotherapy, proposed theories about depression, that many psychiatrists do not accept because his writings were his opinions and not presented as scientific data supported by controlled experiments. The dominant theory today is that depression is caused by low brain levels of the neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine.

The drugs such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft that treat depression are supposed to raise brain levels of these neurotransmitters. Doctors can also raise brain levels of serotonin by prescribing pills containing T3, that is made by the body from another hormone called T4 (1). They also prescribe T3 by itself or together with antidepressants. Depression is common among people who have too much or too little thyroid hormone. Doctors usually treat low thyroid function with T4 also known as Levothroid and many people become even more depressed. They treat this depression by prescribing T3 as well as T4.

Try to balance T3 and T4 so you will not be taking too much thyroid and harm yourself. 1)If you now take 100 mcg of Levothroid (T4): 2) Lower T4 (Levothroid) to 50 mcg and add Cytomel (T3) 5 mcg each day. 3) One month later, have your doctor draw blood for TSH. 4) If it is normal, you are on the correct dose and should get blood tests TSH once a year. 5) If TSH is too high, increase Cytomel to 10 mcg and hold Levothroid at 50. 6) Draw monthly TSH until it is normal. Keep on raising Cytomel by 5 mcg until TSH is normal. See my report #G171 on thyroid hormones.

1) M Weissel.Treatment of psychiatric diseases with thyroid hormones.Acta Medica Austriaca, 1999, Vol 26, Iss 4, pp 129-131.

2) H Heuer, MKH Schafer, K Bauer.Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone (TRH), a signal peptide of the central nervous system.Acta Medica Austriaca, 1999, Vol 26, Iss 4, pp 119-122.

3) F Konig, C vonHippel, T Petersdorff, W Kaschka.Antithyroid antibodies in depressive diseases.Acta Medica Austriaca, 1999, Vol 26, Iss 4, pp 126-128.

4) A Steiger.Thyroid gland and sleep.Acta Medica Austriaca, 1999, Vol 26, Iss 4, pp 132-133.

5) Jackson IM .Thyroid 1998 Oct;8(10):951-6.

6) Refractory depression: treatment strategies, with particular reference to the thyroid axis. Joffe RT . J Psychiatry Neurosci 1997 Nov;22(5):327-31.

7) Thyroid hormones in depressive disorders: a reappraisal of clinical utility. Lasser RA , Baldessarini RJ, Consolidated Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., USA. Harv Rev Psychiatry 1997 Mar-Apr;4(6):291-305.

8) The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis in major depression.Sullivan PF , Wilson DA , Mulder RT , Joyce PR University Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine, New Zealand. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1997 May;95(5):370-8.

9) S RamschakSchwarzer, W Radkohl, C Stiegler, HP Dimai, G Leb. Interaction between psychotropic drugs and thyroid hormone metabolism - an overview. Acta Medica Austriaca, 2000, Vol 27, Iss 1, pp 8-10.

10) SK Rack, EH Makela. Hypothyroidism and depression: A therapeutic challenge. Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 2000, Vol 34, Iss 10, pp 1142-1145

Checked 9/9/14

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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