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Subclinical Hypothyroidism: A Modifiable Risk Factor for Depression?

CITATION:  Haggerty, J.J., Stern, R.A., et al. (1993).  Subclinical Hypothyroidism: A Modifiable Risk Factor for Depression? Am J Psychiatry 150:508-510.

ABSTRACT:   Subclinical hypothyroidism is a common endocrinopathy that is defined by laboratory findings of an elevated basal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) concentration or an exaggerated TSH response to thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation in the presence of normal thyroid hormone concentrations (1). Although the typical somatic manifestations of thyroid hormone deficiency are usually absent in subclinical hypothyroidism, it has been proposed that subclinical hypothyroidism may share with overt hypothyroidism the capacity to cause depression (2, 3). Support for this hypothesis comes mainly from studies that have evaluated thyroid function in selected psychiatric populations (2, 4). To date, however, no study has directly examined the psychiatric effects of subclinical hypothyroidism in individuals who are not seeking psychiatric treatment. We therefore report the results of a controlled evaluation of the lifetime occurrence of depression in relatively healthy outpatients with untreated subclinical hypothyroidism.


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