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Bipolar or Hyperthyroidism?
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Bipolar or Hyperthyroidism?

My daughter was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.  Before she was 18 she was on synthyroid.  That means hypothyroid right? Well she came home from the hospital after being in the behavioral uniit with susicidal thoughts.  The morning after she got home I went to wake her to give her her meds and she was dead. At first of course they looked for overdosing. When that came out negative they looked for medical reasons. The autopsy came back as cause of death being hyperthyroidism.  Now , I have looked at some of the medical records and she was on a very small dose of synthroid sometime back and also her test show that she was hyper and hypo. What I'm wonder I guess is shouldn't they have checked her thyroid when they diagnosed her as bipolar??? What is TSH,T4 and T3 ? What is a normal range for the thyroid? Thanks for any help.
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OMG - I am so, so sorry!

Most psychiatrists now test thyroid levels long before they will make a diagnosis.  My son was treated for depression and that was the first thing they checked.  My daughter and sister were both diagnosed as bipolar yet when they had their thyroids removed (cancer/precancer) and were put on stable thyroid replacement meds their symptoms disappeared.

If you go to the "Health Pages" on the top, right of the screen it will explain what all of the thyroid labs and their values are.

There should have been *lots* of testing and followup with her thyroid.  They needed to also test for antibodies to see if it was an autoimmune condition.  It is unbelievable that they would place someone on thyroid replacement meds then not followup with regular testing - *especially* if being treated with heavy psychotropic medications (which can affect thyroid levels).

Hyperthyroidism doesn't usually kill that quickly.  What *can* happen if someone is severely hyperthyroid is they will get high BP, fast heart rate, horrible headaches, high fever, and start to go into abnormal heart rhythm.  It's called thyroid storm and there are always signs this is happening.

I'm no medical professional but it sounds like a very questionable cause of death.

I'm so sorry for all you have been through.  I truly am.


First of all, please accept my condolences for your loss. I have two sons and cannot imagine the pain and grief you have experienced.

My youngest son had a relationship (and children) with a young woman who was diagnosed as bipolar along with other mental difficulties.

She was put on various drugs, although she refused Lithium after I talked to her about her thyroid. They were quite insistant about her taking Lithium.

They never looked at her thyroid function at any time during the whole process, although it should have been the first thing they tested. They twisted her arm to take Lithium even when she told THEM that it would ruin her thyroid. They finally turned her away and she had to seek treatment elsewhere.

She has had thyroid testing since, and is in the early stage of developing hypothyroidism. She is on the county's dime, so she has had minimal testing. No antibody tests.

If your daughter was put on Synthroid at some point, then she should have had follow-up testing on a regular basis even if she was taken off the Synthroid.

She should have had antibody testing to rule out or diagnose an autoimmune thyroid condition.

She should have had a TSH and a Free T4 run every three months while on medication and at least yearly even if the hypothyroidism subsided.

I don't want to seem harsh or cruel, but I do not see any way that she could have died of hyperthyroidism unless it was a thyroid storm as Utah said. Even then, she would be sick for weeks before, I would think.

The other puzzling thing is, she was treated for hypothyroidism, not hyperthyroidism. So you have to wonder how she got there. Something is very odd about the whole thing.

TSH is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It is produced in the pituitary and is sent to the thyroid. It tells the thyroid how much T4 and T3 to produce.

A normal TSH value is somewhere between 0.8 and 1.8, give or take a few people. A value above 2.5 signals a problem and a value of 5.0 signals a problem to doctors that don't understand that 3.0 is too high, or indicative of hypothyroidism. A value below 0.3 signals a possible problem and a value of 0.1 or 0.08 indicates hyperthyroidism.

T4 is one of the hormones the thyroid produces.
T3 is the other hormone.

"Free" tests are modern tests.

A Free T4 test should show a result around mid-range on the range the lab uses to quantify the test result. A little lower or a little higher is ok.

A normal Free T3 result is about two thirds up the way from bottom to top on the lab range.

I hope this helps you some.
I apologize if my speculating is inapropriate.
I'm so sorry about your loss. I cannot even imagine. There's nothing more I can say.
I too can't imagine the road you are walking right now.

I have read just a little bit on the connections on bipolar and thyroid disorders. But I do agree with AR on what he wrote.

A member here Verona could definately add something on this. I will see if I can locate her.

I am so so sorry for the loss of your precious daughter and the pain you must be in.  We are here for you and I am sure anybody who has some answers to help you will jump in on the thread.  I also know a member who maybe can stop by who suffers from bipolar and thyroid disorders.  Two people I know actually.

Usually a full thyroid panel is done ... I wonder if they did antibody tests? Could she maybe have had an autoimmune disorder that was causing the hyper to hypo swings maybe ????  Just a thought as a patient, not a doctor.

Please keep in touch with us and what you find.  

With my sympathies,
co-cl thyroid
I'm really sorry I don't have enough experience here to help you with your questions. But I just wanted to say how awful I feel for you and I cannot imagine what you must be going through. I know words aren't enough to help you, because what has happened is just too dreadful. I just want you to know I'm thinking of you.
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