Thyroid Function In Youth With Severe Mood And Anxiety Disorder

A new study from researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children’s looks at the prevalence of abnormal thyroid function in youth with severe mood and anxiety disorder. It is the largest study to date of this population and will help mental health professionals better understand the predictors of abnormal thyroid function, like weight gain, family history or treatment with certain medications.

“The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that clinicians consider of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism when assessing anxious or depress youth, given that some thyroid conditions produce anxiety or depressive symptoms. However, until this study, we had limit evidence as to whether routine screening with a laboratory test was the best approach to screen for thyroid disease in kids with anxiety and depression,” says corresponding author Jeffrey Strawn, MD.

Utility of thyroid function

The thyroid gland is closely connect to brain function and, with other systems; regulates many systems in the body as well as metabolism. It produces hormones that regulate the rate at which food is convert into energy. An overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, can produce anxiety, weight loss and decrease appetite, and poor concentration. Hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, weight gain and increase in appetite; slower motor skills and concentration and may look like depression.

“The study is base on chart review data of pediatric patients; so that were hospitalize for psychiatric disorders at Cincinnati Children’s and had routine thyroid screening tests performed. They look at the prevalence of thyroid disease in patients hospitalize with psychiatric complaints as well as other factors; so that may have predict abnormal thyroid hormone levels,” says Luft.

An analysis of 1,319 patients under the age of 19, found that the thyroid-stimulating hormone concentrations were abnormal in just over 6% of the psychiatrically hospitalize youth at Cincinnati Children’s. “This is the largest study to examine the utility of thyroid function screening in psychiatrically hospitalize youth with severe mood and anxiety disorders; also though it relies on existing medical history data, it does help us better understand; so the predictors of abnormal thyroid function tests,” says collaborator, Laura Ramsey, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and clinical pharmacology.

Stimulating hormone levels

Luft notes that from this study and other literature; so they determine predictors of elevate thyroid stimulating hormone levels. “When considering thyroid assessment in youth with anxiety and mood disorders; target screening should focus on patients with a family history of thyroid disease, recent weight gain, treatment with specific medications, and in girls, any history of abnormal uterine bleeding,” says Luft.

“The prevalence of thyroid disorders is poorly understood in pediatric populations; particularly in the area of psychiatric disorders,” notes Luft; also believes the data can help inform more target approaches to screening; also will be of clinical interest to pediatricians, child and adolescent psychiatrists, and other mental health providers.

As an undergraduate, Luft work with Strawn during the summers of 2016 and 2017 through the UC ROSE program, a unique research internship program which offers high-achieving students early admission to the College of Medicine; while actively engaging them in “Research, Observation, Service, and Education” (ROSE) experiences over two summers. Luft also receive the Summer Medical Student Fellowship support by American Academy of Child; also Adolescent Psychiatry’s Campaign for America’s Kids in 2018, which funded the research.