It’s Not Just Dreary Erie, It’s a Real Problem
by: Amie Hornaman
If you have lived in Erie for any amount of time you’ve inevitably heard it referred to as “Dreary Erie”. While there is a definite lack of sunlight in the winter making us all a bit more grouchy and much more prone to road rage, is that the problem? Don’t be too quick to blame your bad mood or low energy on the weather.
Look a bit deeper into your body for a more shadowy cause: hypothyroidism or subclinical hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is more commonly known as an underactive or low thyroid. It is where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormone and we see the pituitary gland, the master gland, screaming and shouting at the thyroid like a hungry child to make more thyroid hormone. Unless it gets properly fed, TSH levels (thyroid stimulating hormone) keep going up, and in this case higher does not mean faster. High TSH levels indicate a slow, sluggish hypothyroid state.
Dreary Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can cause you to experience a number of symptoms such as depression, the inability to tolerate cold, brain fog, fatigue, extreme constipation, sleep issues, dry skin, hair loss and weight gain.
Subclinical hypothyroidism is the quieter problem child. Do you feel moody and down but not exactly sure why? Are you ready for an afternoon nap when you used to be able to go all day with great energy? Is your less than stellar mood worsened by weight gain? The scale is not moving in your favor even with your best effort. You blame it on the weather, age, your job, your spouse or all of the above and believe that you just have to learn to live with it. Unfortunately, subclinical hypothyroidism often goes undiagnosed because blood work can show normal TSH levels and oftentimes low-normal T4 and T3 levels. It’s a vicious cycle that only leads to greater levels of depression and frustration.
New Normal? NO!
So what’s a gal, or guy, to do? Don’t move to a different city just yet! That dreary feeling will still be there even in Florida if you don’t address the underlying cause.
First, know that you don’t have to learn to live with it. Second, get answers. Find a physician or practitioner who will look at you as a whole person, not simply as numbers on a page. “Normal” TSH and T4 levels do not rule out an underlying problem. Oftentimes further tests are required and labs should be looked at as relative values as you may need treatment even with borderline numbers.
Blood work is just the beginning, your symptoms and how you feel on a daily basis tells the rest of the story. If you are uncontrollably tired, if you can’t lose weight, if you are snapping at everyone around you including your dog…it might be more than just a sunlight issue.
Listen to your body and listen to the quiet problem child because he has something to say. Do you struggle with more than just the dreary Erie blues? Please don’t ignore that. Turn your frown upside down! There are answers and solutions if you look hard enough.