Thyroid Hormones Part 3: Misunderstood and Mismanaged

It is widely known by endocrinologists, physicians and the medical community that low thyroid function is always secondary to something else; yet the issue of the autoimmune attack is almost never addressed. Instead, patients are considered to be managed and treated properly when the TSH normalizes. In a sense the patient is having his or her TSH managed, but the underlying mechanism for low thyroid function (the autoimmune attack) is not. In many instances a doctor will even refuse to run thyroid antibodies because it is not seen as an effective agent of change for the prevailing method of treatment.

In conventional medicine, what I call The Replacement Model, a drug, or in this case a hormone, is meant to replace actual physiology. Any symptoms that remain after the normalization of the TSH marker are attributed to some other cause. In other words, the prevailing medical thinking is that since the TSH reads as “normal” on your lab report, or within laboratory range for prescribing medicine, not only should the symptoms be resolved, but the drug you are taking has worked as a perfect replacement for actual thyroid hormone! We know otherwise.

For example, if your thyroid condition is causing depression, which it commonly does, then the medical doctor or psychiatrist will give you antidepressants instead of trying to identify and correct the root cause. Why? Because if the TSH, which is the standard measure of thyroid function, is now in the normal laboratory range, how could the depression symptoms be related? On the surface it seems logical unless you yourself are suffering from this condition.

If you haven’t had this experience yet, you probably will. You will go into your doctor’s office because you STILL suffer with the same symptoms, and in an attempt to move you out of the office in the allotted 10 minutes for your visit, the medical doctor is going to shove an anti-depressant prescription at you and tell you that it will help alleviate some of the symptoms. The implication is that it’s all in your head!

Do you suffer from depression? Maybe. Perhaps you suffer as a result of the thyroid problem that is not being managed properly. Or it might be that you’re depressed because you have a chronic problem that no one is taking seriously and the only alternative you’ve been given are more pills. Either way, an anti-depressant isn’t the cure.

In most cases, since the actual autoimmune response is ignored, over time you will continue to lose more thyroid activity, and the requirements for your thyroid replacement hormone prescription continue to rise. Even more importantly, despite the fact that TSH is considered “managed” with replacement thyroid hormones, Autoimmune Thyroid patients will continue to have all the symptoms of low thyroid function. Why run extra tests if you are not going to alter the treatment based on the test results? This is considered “waste” in the HMO insurance model that has become so prevalent in this country.

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For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.