We are an exhausted people, no doubt about that. We go to work, run errands, handle our children, perform our domestic duties and eventually fall into bed asleep before we can even find comfort. We are also a weight-obsessed culture. Whether we’re fixated on finding the ultimate weight-loss solution, or we’re actively trying to gain weight, weight issues affect most of us at one time or another. Yet another all-American passion: depression. It seems we’ve all found times of utter despair in our lives, and have been reluctant to seek professional help. Oftentimes, this sense of despondency attacks us for no apparent reason, thus supporting the “I don’t need help…it’ll go away” cop-out.
While these are very common issues, they could speak volumes on a little bow tie scale. Enter the thyroid gland. Shaped like a bow tie, with two lobes on each side of the isthmus (a narrow part that connects two parts of a structure.), the thyroid gland controls the release of hormones that regulate physiological functions of the body. It controls the rate at which the body carries on its necessary functions. OK, you say. Big deal. Everything my body does is controlled by something. What does it matter what it is? Well, it matters because its over- or under-activity could go unnoticed for far too long, allowing us stubborn-minded individuals to lay blame for our symptoms on life and stress.
Thyroid disease is a very common ailment, affecting millions of Americans. More common in women, than in men, it is easy for the symptoms to go unnoticed. After all, women carry the great load in the stress department, what with full-time jobs, strained relationships, and the greater responsibility of raising children. So we do get tired, we do gain weight, we do lose weight, and we do feel depressed. But understanding that there very well could be a medical cause, instead of a life cause, for these problems can bring perspective where it is much-needed.
Let’s quickly explore the two most common thyroid conditions: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism happens when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. This is also called an over-active thyroid. Its symptoms include, but are not limited to, insomnia, hand tremors, nervousness, loss of weight-despite a normal/healthy appetite, excessive sweating, irregular menstruation, trouble concentrating, and enlarging eyes.
Hypothyroidism is just the opposite: its blame lies in not enough thyroid hormone being released into the body. Symptoms include fatigue or exhaustion, poor cold tolerance, constipation, carpal-tunnel syndrome, poor appetite, weight gain, dry skin, depression, and loss of intellect.
While some symptoms may seem severe, there are medical solutions available. From taking hormone supplements to having your thyroid removed, many treatment plans are available.
Maybe it’s time to pay more attention to those pesky little “life problems”.