A low mood can be your body’s way of telling you that your hormones are out of balance – or that you aren’t getting the vitamins you need. So if you’re feeling down, keep reading to learn more about the hormone imbalances and vitamin deficiencies that could be lurking behind that blue mood.
The thyroid gland, which sits at the front of the neck, regulates many of the body’s everyday functions – from your body temperature to your metabolism. It does this by pumping out thyroid hormones – or “chemical messengers” – into the bloodstream. The bloodstream carries these hormones to other parts of your body. This allows the thyroid to control different processes in your body from a distance.
But what happens if your thyroid doesn’t work properly – and can’t pump out very many “chemical messengers” into the bloodstream?
If that happens, the thyroid loses its ability to regulate key functions in your body. This is a condition known as “hypothyroidism” (or underactive thyroid), which can sink your mood and make you feel depressed .
Hypothyroidism – a condition characterized by an underactive thyroid – can sink your mood and make you feel depressed.
What causes hypothyroidism in the first place? In the United States, the #1 cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto's disease  – affecting an estimated 1 in 20 people. (Autoimmune disorders occur when your immune system – which is supposed to protect you – backfires on your body and attacks some of your tissues, glands, and organs.) An iodine deficiency can also result in hypothyroidism because your thyroid needs iodine to build hormones.
Signs that you might have hypothyroidism include:
One way you can see if your thyroid might be underactive – and potentially the reason behind your low spirits? Give your thyroid hormone levels a checkup from the convenience of home – and consult with your doctor about any abnormal results.
Several B vitamins – like B6 vitamins, B9, and B12 – play important roles in your brain chemistry. So a deficiency in any of these B vitamins can send you right into the doldrums. Scientific research reinforces this point: studies show that people with depression are more likely to have low levels of B9 (also known as folate or folic acid) and B12 .
A number of things can trigger a B vitamin deficiency, such as excessive alcohol consumption or a gut malabsorption condition (like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease). Certain dietary restrictions can also up the odds of a B vitamin deficiency: a vegan or vegetarian diet can leave you with inadequate levels of B12 because this vitamin isn’t naturally found in plant-based food.
A vegan or vegetarian diet can leave you with inadequate levels of B12 because this vitamin isn’t naturally found in plant-based food.
Some signs that you may have a B vitamin deficiency include:
Vitamin D and B vitamin deficiencies – as well as thyroid hormone imbalances – can suck the joy out of your mood and leave you feeling blue. However, various at-home tests can help you discover your body’s vitamin deficiencies and hormone imbalances – and put you on track to greater well-being. And – if you’ve been hunting around for the reason behind your low mood – don’t forget to share any abnormal test results with your doctor to learn what your next steps should be.