A Sneaky Disease Tricked Me Into Thinking I Had Postpartum Depression

You know that look that people give new moms who are clearly having a hard time? That tilted head with the poor you pout. After I gave birth, I got that look -- a lot. People lowered their tone when speaking to me and asked me if I was OK -- a lot. Looking back, I was a mess. But what working-mother-of-a-newborn-colic-baby-with-reflux-who-doesn't-sleep-ever isn't, right? I was tired, I was angry, I was gaining weight, I was crying, I was forgetting everything. People started asking me do you think maybe, maybe you have postpartum depression. Even the OB was suggesting I should just talk to someone. What was actually happening to me is that my thyroid levels were dropping, causing symptoms like depression (as well as a whole host of other physical things like constipation and hair loss, fun!).

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And I am not the only one. Some researchers are finding a link between abnormal thyroid levels and depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues. And while a bit controversial, there is evidence to support that treating abnormal thyroid levels can relieve depression.

My thyroid is the gift that keeps on giving. Dry skin, shedding hair, swelling, fatigue -- everything Oprah described when she announced to the world that she had thyroid disease. Of course, in the spectrum of disease, this is not a terrible one to have, and with medication, it is largely controlled. I have been fighting with these fluctuating hormones since I was about 19. Amazingly, during my pregnancy, it was a non-issue so I was totally caught off-guard, and so were the doctors, especially since my levels right after birth were fine. 

Of course your thyroid levels have to actually be abnormal to cause depression, and not everyone who is depressed has a thyroid problem. But my levels were. In fact, I was off-the-chart abnormal -- which is really how I felt. I wanted to scream, "Not all moms are depressed!" Something feels wrong. Luckily, I was having recognizable physical symptoms too. But even then, because so many of my problems were also associated with being postpartum (all women lose their hair after child birth, all moms who are taking night feedings are tired, all people eating dinner at 9 p.m. gain weight), I was first being sent down the see a therapist path rather than the get a blood test path.

It's hard to remember to be your own advocate under the best of circumstances, forget about when you are a feeling sick (mentally or physically) but you don't have time to be misdiagnosed. There is no harm in a blood test.

Was your postpartum depression misdiagnosed? How did you find out?


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