Can a Thyroid Disorder Lead to Addiction?

Can a Thyroid Disorder Lead to Addiction?

Thyroid disorders may lead to addiction

Thyroid disorders often go undiagnosed, which is unfortunate because thyroid malfunctions affect nearly every system in the body causing mental and physical problems.

Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid disease produces many complications including major disruptions to the body’s hormone balance that affect mood and physical functioning. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of a person’s throat. Thyroid conditions affect more women than men and involve the thyroid producing either too much or too little thyroid hormone according to WebMD.

Several problems may affect the thyroid according to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH), a division of the Health and Human Services Department (HHS). The gland produces two main hormones, T3 and T4, which travel all over the body and control metabolism. The following conditions are possible:

  • Hyperthyroidism – This is the production of too much thyroid hormone, or overactive thyroid. Symptoms include weight loss, irregular heartbeat, anxiety, irritability, increased sweating and sensitivity to heat.
  • Hypothyroidism – This is the production of too little thyroid hormone, or underactive thyroid. Symptoms include weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, depression, fatigue, puffy face and pale, dry skin.
  • Thyroid nodules – This is swelling of one section of the gland, usually with no symptoms, in which fewer than 10% of cases are cancerous.
  • Thyroiditis – This is swelling of the entire thyroid gland and begins with symptoms of overactive thyroid and ends with underactive thyroid symptoms. Symptoms usually resolve within a year to 18 months.
  • Thyroid cancer – This is a rare cancer affecting part or all of the thyroid.
  • Goiter – This is an abnormally enlarged thyroid gland.

Symptomatic thyroid disorders negatively affect a person’s emotional and physical functioning. With symptoms such as anxiety and depression, thyroid disease takes its toll on a person’s day-to-day life. Depending on the severity of the thyroid disorder, a person’s physician may recommend hormone replacement therapy, surgery or a combination of both.

Mood Disorders and Addiction

People who live with mood or anxiety disorders are twice as likely as the normal population to suffer with addiction to drugs like Xanax according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). There are various reasons a person with depression or anxiety may begin abusing drugs. Some people may begin using drugs as a way to self-medicate especially if the mental disorder is in its beginning stages.

A person suffering from undiagnosed thyroid disease experiences several changes. As hormone levels fluctuate, a person may gain or lose weight, feel cold or hot and feel anxious or depressed. These unexplained changes might cause worry and exacerbate mood changes like anxiety or depression. A person experiencing such mood changes may be misdiagnosed with depression or another disorder according to an article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter. Getting the right diagnoses through blood tests and screening questions will ensure better outcomes.

For example depression caused by hypothyroidism causes reduced sexual desire and trouble concentrating but it does not usually cause feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or suicidal thoughts.

Researchers at the NIDA believe many of the genetic and environmental factors that bring on mental illness may also contribute to addiction. People who have co-occurring addiction and mental illness need specialized treatment to achieve the most effective outcome according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Since the two diseases contribute to each other, it’s important that therapy address both at the same time.

Thyroid Function and Addiction

Some substances may temporarily or permanently damage the thyroid. While research on the thyroid and substance abuse is limited, many researchers see a connection. Several studies indicate that substance abuse changes thyroid function. A study of male opium users published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders showed opium use increased some thyroid hormones and decreased others. Another study of reduced thyroid function of former alcoholics indicates that alcohol affects certain thyroid hormones according to an article in Addiction.

Need Help Finding Addiction Treatment?

Physical and mental health changes are a struggle for any person to deal with especially if the cause is unknown. Thyroid problems may happen suddenly or gradually over time. A person who abuses substances as a way to feel better due to thyroid disease needs treatment for both conditions.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and thyroid disease, there are treatment solutions that offer healthy ways to cope with both diseases. Do not let an addiction drag you further into depression or anxiety. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer options for effective treatment.

Addiction is a highly treatable disease and people who seek help learn skills that improve day-to-day life and enrich their relationships. Call us today, and start on the path to a better life.

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If you are ready to beat a Xanax addiction and start a new life in recovery then we can help. We have admission counselors standing by 24 hours a day to take your email, live chat request, or phone call to get you in the addiction treatment center that best fits your unique & specific needs.