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Hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis functioning in anxiety disorders. A systematic review


Fischer, Susanne; Ehlert, Ulrike (2018). Hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis functioning in anxiety disorders. A systematic review. Depression and Anxiety, 35(1):98-110.

Abstract

Depression has repeatedly been linked to subclinical hypothyroidism, and thyroid hormones have successfully been used to augment antidepressant treatment. By contrast, the extent of thyroid dysfunction in anxiety disorders remains less clear. This is surprising, given that anxiety-related symptoms (e.g., nervousness, palpitations, increased perspiration) are highly prevalent in hyperthyroidism. The present study was undertaken to synthesize the literature on hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis functioning in anxiety disorders. The PubMed and PsycINFO databases were systematically searched. Three types of studies were included: (1) "comorbidity studies" assessing the prevalence of thyroid disorders in individuals with anxiety disorders, (2) "case-control studies" comparing HPT parameters between patients and controls, and (3) "correlational studies" assessing self-reported anxiety levels and HPT parameters. Risk of bias was assessed via a standardized quality rating. Twenty studies were eligible. Nearly all found the comorbidity between anxiety and thyroid disorders was significant. Half of the studies additionally supported the notion of subtle thyroid dysfunction in that thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) responses to the administration of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) were blunted and an inverse relationship was observed between self-reported anxiety levels and TSH. Overall, HPT assessments were well conducted, but several studies failed to adjust their analyses for smoking, body mass index (BMI), and depression. The findings resonate well with clinical recommendations to routinely screen for thyroid disorders in patients with anxiety disorders, and with what is known from basic research about thyroid-brain interactions. The results of the risk of bias assessment underscore the importance of further high-quality experimental and longitudinal epidemiological research.

Abstract

Depression has repeatedly been linked to subclinical hypothyroidism, and thyroid hormones have successfully been used to augment antidepressant treatment. By contrast, the extent of thyroid dysfunction in anxiety disorders remains less clear. This is surprising, given that anxiety-related symptoms (e.g., nervousness, palpitations, increased perspiration) are highly prevalent in hyperthyroidism. The present study was undertaken to synthesize the literature on hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis functioning in anxiety disorders. The PubMed and PsycINFO databases were systematically searched. Three types of studies were included: (1) "comorbidity studies" assessing the prevalence of thyroid disorders in individuals with anxiety disorders, (2) "case-control studies" comparing HPT parameters between patients and controls, and (3) "correlational studies" assessing self-reported anxiety levels and HPT parameters. Risk of bias was assessed via a standardized quality rating. Twenty studies were eligible. Nearly all found the comorbidity between anxiety and thyroid disorders was significant. Half of the studies additionally supported the notion of subtle thyroid dysfunction in that thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) responses to the administration of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) were blunted and an inverse relationship was observed between self-reported anxiety levels and TSH. Overall, HPT assessments were well conducted, but several studies failed to adjust their analyses for smoking, body mass index (BMI), and depression. The findings resonate well with clinical recommendations to routinely screen for thyroid disorders in patients with anxiety disorders, and with what is known from basic research about thyroid-brain interactions. The results of the risk of bias assessment underscore the importance of further high-quality experimental and longitudinal epidemiological research.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:January 2018
Deposited On:31 Oct 2017 15:36
Last Modified:20 Feb 2018 08:54
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1091-4269
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22692
PubMed ID:29064607

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