The Spectrum of Thyroid Function and Mental Wellbeing: the NAKO Health Study


Project leadDr. Berit Brandes

Approval date25.07.2023

Published date09.11.2023

SummaryThe thyroid status has a well-known impact on cardiometabolic risk, cognitive and mood impairment and longevity. Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism are associated with neurological psychological impairment such as depression and anxiety which are important determinants of social functioning and quality of life. The overt thyroid disease and alterations in mood have been previously reported while treatment of the overt hypo- or hyperthyroidism may help to prevent associated neurological and psychiatric disorders. However, the association between subtle thyroid dysfunction and the major parameters of mental health are insufficiently investigated. Consequently, in case of subclinical hypothyroidism, there is no consensus on whether a therapy attempt with thyroid hormones should be recommended in order to reduce neurological and psychological symptoms. Since in Europe the majority of thyroid disorders may be attributed to subclinical forms, it is of great importance to further explore the association between the entire spectrum of thyroid dysfunction with regard to mental wellbeing and to investigate whether treatment might weaken depressive symptoms and anxiety in people with subclinical and overt hypo- and hyperthyroidism. In this study, we aim to evaluate the prevalence of self-reported thyroid disorders and thyroid treatment among participants in the whole sample of the NAKO health study. We also aim to evaluate the prevalence of undiagnosed thyroid disorders based on information on blood levels of thyroid hormones. In a further step, we aim to examine the use of thyroid medications such as levothyroxine in men and women with a self-reported thyroid disorder and in groups with comorbid depression and anxiety, and to analyse differences in current symptom severity of depression and anxiety in groups with levothyroxine administration vs. without. We also aim to explore the associations between the entire thyroid function spectrum and the most important parameters of mental wellbeing in the subsample of men and women who did not report having a thyroid disorder and who do not take thyroid hormone treatment.

Keywords anxiety depression medication mental-health prevalence thyroid thyroidism

InstitutionsLeibniz Institut für Präventionsforschung und Epidemiologie - BIPS, Universitätsmedizin Greifswald, Leibniz-Institut für Präventionsforschung und Epidemiologie – BIPS, Leibniz-Institut für Präventionsforschung und Epidemiologie - BIPS, Universitätsmedizin Greifswald, Institut für Community Medicine, Abtlg. SHIP-KEF

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