Issues with the endocrine system (hormones) can be the cause of psychiatric problems and can have a significant impact on mental health. Here at The London Psychiatry Centre, we consider the endocrinology system and if we feel patients may benefit from endocrinology treatment, we are able to offer this alongside their existing treatment.
What Is Endocrinology?
Endocrinology is the study of hormones; chemicals released by various glands which in turn, control many different functions. Some hormones such as insulin and oestrogen are very well known, others, like oxytocin, the hormone that amongst other things, helps with bonding and is perhaps not so well appreciated.
Endocrinology And Mental Health
We have come to understand that hormones play a significant role in mental wellbeing and are implicated in psychiatric conditions. Inadequate thyroid hormone secretion is for example, associated with depression and poor cognition. Overproduction of thyroid hormones is commonly associated with anxiety, irritability and in severe cases, psychosis.
Conversely, psychiatric conditions can cause unfavourable hormonal secretion. A classic example is cortisol, the stress hormone, which is overproduced in people suffering with significant depression. Excess secretion of cortisol is associated with weight gain and increased diabetes risk.
We have come to understand that hormones play a significant role in mental wellbeing and are implicated in psychiatric conditions.
Endocrinology And Diabetes
The endocrine system is involved with diabetes and so the risk of diabetes mellitus (unregulated blood sugar levels) is higher in patients with psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorders, schizophrenia (2-4 times increased risk).
Some of the medications used in psychiatric conditions can have an adverse effect on metabolism. Antipsychotics such as Olanzapine significantly increase the risk of weight gain and developing Type 2 diabetes. The exact mechanism is unclear but, interesting studies point to a possible role from unfavourable gut bacteria amongst others.
It is increasingly recognised that hormones can play a hugely important role in the treatment of psychiatric conditions. Seemingly very high doses of thyroxine have a significant stabilising effect in bipolar disorders and its use is effective and safe where other therapies have failed.