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Thyroid Mind Power: The Proven Cure for Hormone-Related Depression, Anxiety, and Memory Loss Paperback – Illustrated, April 26, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

RICHARD SHAMES MD is a founding member of the American Holistic Medical Association and has specialized in hormone treatment for over 30 years.

KARILEE SHAMES, PhD, RN specializes in psychiatric and holistic nursing. They have written or contributed to over a dozen health books including two thyroid-related titles Thyroid Power and Feeling Fat, Fuzzy or Frazzled.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1 Missing the Boat on Mind-Body Connections

I have no idea . . .

I can't see anything wrong with you

It is often said: "Low thyroid doesn't kill you, it just makes you wish you were dead."

But, occasionally, it can kill.

Her long-standing anxiety had escalated into uncontrollable panic. The dean's mother was then hospitalized and soon transferred to a mental unit. There, after several agitated episodes, she fell, hit her head, and died.

As dean of the School of Nursing, Dr. Templin requested a case review and autopsy. Only then was it discovered that the reason for her mother's distress was simple untreated low thyroid. Had they originally performed better testing, she might have avoided months of terror, enjoying her family for years to come. Dr. Templin's sadness was evident, as was her guilt.

She later lamented: "If I, as professor of nursing for all these years, missed my own mother's true problem, imagine how many other practitioners might be missing the thyroid diagnosis! Think of all the patients suffering with these terrible mental symptoms that could be better controlled with proper thyroid care."

The dean then invited an assistant professor to coauthor an article on better thyroid diagnosis for a major nursing journal.

The assistant professor of nursing was Karilee Shames, PhD, RN. And that article inspired Thyroid Mind Power.

Thyroid conditions are surprisingly common, representing possibly the largest category of sufferers in the country. How could the most common of all conditions be so frequently mishandled?

By the late 20th century, thyroid hormones had become the most often prescribed pills. In the early 2000s, one particular brand, Synthroid, was the second most commonly prescribed medicine in America.

Thyroid imbalance is a medical condition that often carries with it a variety of well-studied psychological symptoms. Millions of people face emotional havoc due to simple untreated or poorly treated thyroid imbalances. The health consumers of our country deserve better care.

In this book, we discuss an aspect of health care far too frequently misdiagnosed. It may help to save your life, or at least your quality of life, as well as that of people you love.

The Thyroid Gland: Culprit or Cure?

A tiny butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck can make our lives heaven or hell. The thyroid, part of our endocrine system, directs our metabolism. It secretes a hormone that drives all of our bodily organs and activities.

Think of your body as a car. The thyroid functions as the gas pedal. It controls the rate and quality of function for every tissue in the body, including the brain. A person with severely low thyroid often has the resulting symptoms of low body temperature, slow movements, low heart rate, slow digestion, slow speech, poor sleep, bad memory, slow thoughts, and low mood.

Thus, thyroid malfunction encompasses aspects of both body and mind. Keeping the thyroid functioning properly can help millions of people feel better fast. Allowing our thyroids to malfunction is wreaking havoc on our world.

Far too many people are living today with low-level or mild thyroid imbalances causing a great deal of chaos in their lives--and wreaking havoc with our lives as well.

To function better as a society, we will need to reorient our focus to enable millions who are feeling tired, depressed, and less than whole to return to a fuller life.

In our view, fixing the thyroid is one of the easiest and best cures for many problems that ail us. It can be inexpensive and all-encompassing and can greatly improve the quality of life for millions.

The Dangerous Mind-Body Split

In centuries past, scientists and clergy made decisions to separate turf by considering the mind and body as separate entities, operating in totally distinct realms.

In today's world, it remains convenient to continue to adopt this perspective. Many doctors, nurses, health administrators, health insurers, psychologists, counselors, pharmacists, and other providers consider that treating a person's body has very little to do with his mind, and that treating the mind hardly impacts the body. The sad result of this thinking is that we now have specialists and medicines for mental problems, plus separate providers and drugs for physical challenges.

This artificial separation leaves a huge number of hormonally challenged people trapped. Doctors give them medicines for physical symptoms, psychiatrists give them medicines for mental symptoms, and each ignores the hormonal action at the interface of physical and mental. This is unacceptable for the millions experiencing mental challenges due to their physical hormonal condition.

Our culture is looking for quick fixes, but not in the right places. Today's medical system readily employs mind-altering drugs to change our behavior or mood. In many instances, however, this quick fix is not the optimal solution for the longer haul.

In addition to fixing symptoms, we must also make advances in treating the root cause of the condition. Otherwise, many will be doomed to ingest heavy pharmacologic drugs for the rest of their lives.

Surely many of our pharmacologic advances are brilliant and can be helpful when we face crises. Not everyone, however, can afford these costly drugs, and those who can might eventually need other drugs that could interfere with them and cause major problems.

Unless we are attempting to replace something the body normally makes but is deficient in (due to sluggish production), or unless we are facing critical illness without the daily ingestion of a medication, it is unlikely to be healthy to take pharmacologic medications forever. Not only do we consider it perhaps unhealthy, but also we often consider it overkill.

Adopting a Perspective of Wholeness

Our goal with our patients has always been to help them gain more confidence in their abilities to heal their own personal pain, to help them minimize the expression of physical pain that can often have psychological underpinnings, and to help them learn to express themselves clearly and effectively.

Our previous books about the thyroid have encouraged people to use their illnesses as an opportunity to learn to heal themselves fully--body, mind, and spirit. We choose to honor the interconnections that make us whole.

Keep in mind that we were young practitioners during the holistic movement of the early 1970s, when the concepts of whole-person treatment were being developed in our country, starting mostly in California, where we live. Richard was a cofounder of one of the first holistic centers in California in the early 1970s. In the mid-1970s, Karilee developed a holistic nursing program there, implementing the concepts of integrative care.

We spend quality time with our patients, inspiring them through our words and personal stories to try our new ways of living. We help them to break free of their fears and to dissociate from the projected fears of their doctors and others less informed. We inspire them to use their own beliefs and intuition in approaching their health challenges. Our central belief honors each person as absolutely the best healer for his or her own health situation. Our way of viewing our patients has been informed by decades of study in sociology, psychology, anthropology and cultural awareness, human behavior, endocrinology, neurology, general medicine, nursing, religion, and various other systems.

Having spent decades thinking as whole-person health professionals, we believe that many of our patients' emotional challenges are best viewed through the hormonal lens. Along with hormone balancing, we have consistently encouraged habit changes coupled with new ways of thinking.

When our first thyroid book came out in 2000, people attending our book signings were upset that we were directing people to get better care from their doctors, because their doctors did not know how to do a good job on thyroid boosting. We realize, sadly, that our way of thinking may not yet be shared by the majority of our colleagues. And herein lies the greater challenge.

A Look at the Science

We don't want to bog you down with a lot of jargon and academic research, but we feel that the best health consumers are educated consumers. With that in mind, we've included a few select research studies in each chapter, with the full reference listed in a chapter-by-chapter list at the end of the book. If you are not interested, feel free to browse forward to the next section.

. The prevalence of thyroid conditions runs from about 5% to almost 25% of the population being studied. While thyroid imbalance is a very common condition among women, men also have thyroid problems, though far less often. (Feit) . Thyroid problems also become more common as we age. The numbers of postmenopausal women who have some degree of thyroid abnormality ranged up to 26% in a 2001 study published in the prestigious Journal of Epidemiology. . In the early 2000s, the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York estimated that more than 20 million people in the United States were currently taking thyroid medicine. At the time, this figure was believed to be higher than that of all people taking diabetes and cancer medicine combined. (Ditkoff) . Professor Chester Ridgeway at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center tested more than 25,000 normal people, finding that a surprising percentage of them actually had a hidden thyroid condition. His calculations allowed him to estimate that another 13 million Americans with some degree of hypothyroidism would be detected by simply having a TSH test. (Ridgeway) . In 2002 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) published information suggesting that many more people would be properly diagnosed, if only the TSH tests were interpreted using accurate normal ranges. At that time, the old TSH range (from 0.5 to 5.5) was changed to 0.3 to 3.0 by the AACE. This means that Dr. Ridgeway's estimates of 13 million might actually involve 20 million or more people who would find that they have some degree of thyroid problem, if they were only TSH tested. . Also in 2001, the Rotterdam studies showed that having a thyroid condition was a separate, independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke. This study underscored the importance of a thyroid problem not only as a mild incidental illness but also as a condition that could affect and worsen other serious conditions. (Hofman)

What Do These Statistics Tell Us?

. Thyroid conditions are among the most common ailments today. . In any given population, thyroid problems are epidemic. . Those who know that they have thyroid issues represent only half of those who actually do have the condition. . Thyroid problems exist in a variety of mild early forms, very difficult to detect. . Standard screening tests reveal severe forms of high and low thyroid, but they are not sufficiently able to reveal milder forms. . Millions of people suffer every day with symptoms that could be a common sign of thyroid problems. Since most doctors are not curious about the thyroid connection, you must be your own advocate for your best treatment.

In the late 2000s other studies began appearing, showing that even mild forms of high and low thyroid are actually clinically significant (see Appendix). It was then realized that you could have very mild thyroid imbalance and still have a tremendously difficult problem as a result of that mild medical condition.

The Many Faces of Thyroid Problems

Most people think of low thyroid as a small problem, causing a weight issue or making the person chilly or tired. This attitude, sadly, allows most thyroid problems today to remain undiagnosed and poorly treated. Now, with the work of a newly forming Coalition for Better Thyroid Care, we are moving toward a more comprehensive understanding of the poor misunderstood thyroid gland.

. Severe forms of thyroid disorder can cause physical collapse, hospitalization, and coma. . Milder forms of the condition commonly cause fatigue, overweight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, constipation, heart irregularity, dry hair, dry skin, dry eyes, hair thinning or hair loss, and thin, cracking, or peeling nails. . A wide range of female problems can result from thyroid malfunction, including menstrual irregularity, endometriosis, infertility, recurrent miscarriage, birth defects, and terrible menopause.

Specifically, those contending with a high thyroid must learn to recognize the following symptoms, which can include bulging eyes; intense, staring gaze; fast pulse; irregular or skipped heartbeats; swollen, tender thyroid gland; breathlessness; feeling too hot for no reason; and nondiet-related weight loss, often with increased appetite and loose bowels.

To com£d this dilemma, any of these problems could exist alone, or mixed in with other symptoms. The symptoms can be intermittent and mild, or they can be ongoing and severe. Thyroid problems express themselves with a tremendous variability. In many cases, this can present challenges for harried doctors who don't have the resources to spend hours interviewing their patients. Many people with thyroid problems walk out of their doctor's office with a prescription for an antidepressant. Too many women are being misdiagnosed and under-treated for simple thyroid issues that could be easily fixed. Thyroid imbalance, present today in epidemic proportions, commonly also causes psychological symptoms, ranging from mildly annoying behaviors to severe psychiatric disturbances. (Patrick)

Introducing the Thyroid Brain

Thyroid disease is one illness that is known to cause physical as well as mental symptoms.

Even mild low thyroid can cause severe physical problems and severe mental problems.

These mental symptoms occur because of particular ways that the thyroid affects brain chemistry. It is absolutely remarkable how essential the thyroid is to normal brain function.

The brain uses thyroid differently--and more eagerly--than other tissues do. In fact, according to Ridha Arem, MD, author of The Thyroid Solution: "It is time for thyroid hormones to be recognized as key brain chemicals, whose actions and effects are similar in many ways to serotonin and other neuro-transmitters." (Arem)

According to Dr. Arem, an endocrinology professor and medical journal editor, thyroid disease often remains undiagnosed for an inexcusably long time. Dr. Arem writes, "Millions of people suffer needlessly while their doctors continue to treat thyroid dysfunction as a simple physical disorder rather than what it is: a complex blow to the body and the mind."

Dr. Arem expresses concern that psychiatrists far too often are likely to come up with a psychiatric diagnosis when examining a thyroid patient. "Often, psychiatrists do not perform a detailed enough physical examination, or a complete enough panel of lab tests, that might lead them to detect physical causes for the mental symptoms."

Dr. Arem is not alone in his beliefs. A major article for General Hospital Psychiatry describes the following study (Kathol):

In a group of hyperthyroid patients seen by psychiatrists, almost half were diagnosed with depression, or anxiety disorder. These patients did not have anxiety or depression however; what they had were the mental symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

If trained psychiatrists are making this misdiagnosis, just imagine how many general practitioners, internists, busy clinic doctors, and urgent care doctors might make this same kind of mistake.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
  • Paperback : 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1605292788
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1605292786
  • Dimensions : 6.09 x 0.83 x 9.01 inches
  • Publisher : Rodale Books; Illustrated edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: : English
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