Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Depression and Gallbladder Connection

Although depression itself cannot cause gallbladder problems per se, not being able to eat anything can certainly be depressing. Many antidepressant medications are anticholinergic which means they slow down gallbladder contractions, thus contributing to gallbladder troubles. However, beyond that, there is a physiological connection via the thyroid. If you suffer from chronic depression or even bouts of depression now and again, it could possibly be due to a particular condition of low thyroid that is brought on by low serotonin and/or dopamine levels.

Here's how it works. Low serotonin or dopamine levels affect the functioning of the thyroid gland resulting in low (not high) TSH levels. It is high TSH levels that alert your doctor that your thyroid is working overtime and needs some support. However, these low levels along with other markers, may show that the thyroid is not functioning optimally, even though these markers may be within "normal" laboratory range. Insulin surges and excess cortisol production from, for example, blood sugar highs and lows, are major contributors to this thyroid pattern.

To support this pattern, it is not the thyroid itself that needs support, but the thyroid-pituitary connection, along with proper balancing of blood sugar. Along with blood sugar dysregulation, gut inflammation, a poor diet, and adrenal stress are also factors that contribute to poor thyroid health. Are you seeing the connection to digestion here? Many gallbladder conditions are accompanied by gut inflammation. And gut inflammation has a corresponding inflammation in the brain. Low thyroid function, diagnosed or not, affects brain function which can result in depression and poor memory. "An unsupported thyroid condition guarantees some degree of brain degeneration in time." (1., 2.) How can we support the brain's neurotransmitters?

  • physical exercise

  • mental exercise such as Sudoku

  • diet rich in such things as fish oils, and one that balances blood sugar

  • improving digestion of fats which are integral to brain function

  • supplemental brain support that contains the applicable amino acids and specific nutrients

Supporting the brain helps the thyroid; supporting the thyroid helps the brain. It's a win, win. Reducing gut inflammation also reduces inflammation in the brain. What's all this got to do with my gallbladder problem? Well, here's the clincher: Low thyroid function slows down digestion and gallbladder functioning contributing to low HIDA scans and to the formation of gallstones. (3.) And if you are on thyroid replacement and still suffering from low thyroid symptoms, chances are there is something more going on that is not being addressed. So if you are prone to depression, brain fog or poor memory, and if you have gallbladder disease of any kind, read our page dedicated to low thyroid and gallbladder function. There's a list of other symptoms connected with thyroid function that may surprise you too.


  1. Bernal J, et al. Thyroid hormones and brain development. Eur J Endocrinol 1995;133:390-398

  2. Flavin RSL, et al. Regulation of microglial development: A Novel role for thyroid hormones. The Journal of Neuroscience 2001;21(6):2028-2038.

  3. Henry V繹lzke, Daniel M Robinson, Ulrich John,Association between thyroid function and gallstone disease,World J Gastroenterol

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