Students at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have researched and have come up with the largest study to date that looks at the prevalence of abnormal thyroid function in youth with severe mood and anxiety disorder. The study will be a help for the mental health professionals in better understanding the predictors of abnormal thyroid function, like weight gain, family history or treatment with certain medications.
“I was interested in devising this study because I wanted to better understand any relationship between the physical illness and mood disorder,” says Marissa Luft, a third-year medical student at UC, and lead author on the study.
“The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that clinicians consider of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism when assessing anxious or depressed youth, given that some thyroid conditions produce anxiety or depressive symptoms. However, until this study, we had limited 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, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience at the UC College of Medicine and director of UC’s Anxiety Disorders Research Program, who mentored Luft. “These results suggest that screening, with a blood test, may be most helpful when the other predictors of thyroid disease are present,” added Strawn.
The results have been made available online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, along with details of the research done.
“The study is based on chart review data of pediatric patients that were hospitalised for psychiatric disorders at Cincinnati Children’s and had routine thyroid screening tests performed. We looked at the prevalence of thyroid disease in patients hospitalised with psychiatric complaints as well as other factors that may have predicted abnormal thyroid hormone levels,” says Luft.
On analysing 1,319 patients under the age of 19, it was found that the thyroid-stimulating hormone concentrations were abnormal in just over 6% of the psychiatrically hospitalised youth in Cincinnati Children’s.
“This is the largest study to examine the utility of thyroid function screening in psychiatrically hospitalised youth with severe mood and anxiety disorders, and though it relies on existing medical history data, it does help us better understand the predictors of abnormal thyroid function tests,” says collaborator, Laura Ramsey, PhD, assistant professor of paediatrics and clinical pharmacology.
“When considering thyroid assessment in youth with anxiety and mood disorders, targeted 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,” notes Luft.
“The prevalence of thyroid disorders is poorly understood in pediatric populations, particularly in the area of psychiatric disorders,” notes Luft, and believes that data can help inform more targeted approaches to screening, and will be of clinical interest to paediatricians, child and adolescent psychiatrists, and other mental health providers.
Source: University of Cincinnati