Elevated levels of circulating thyroid hormone do not cause the medical sequelae of hyperthyroidism

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 3;71:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2016.06.001. Epub 2016 Jun 11.


Background: Clinicians have been reluctant to use high dose thyroid (HDT) to treat affective disorders because high circulating levels of thyroid hormone have traditionally been equated with hyperthyroidism, and understood as the cause of the medical sequelae of hyperthyroidism, such as osteoporosis and cardiac abnormalities. This conclusion is not supported by (HDT) research.

Methods: A literature review of research related to the morbidity and mortality of HDT treatment was performed.

Results: There exists a large body of research involving the use of HDT treatment to prevent the recurrence of differentiated thyroid cancer and to treat affective disorders. A review of this literature finds a lack of support for HDT as a cause of osteoporosis, nor is there support for an increase in morbidity or mortality associated with HDT. This finding contrasts with the well-established morbidity and mortality associated with Graves' disease, thyroiditis, and other endogenous forms of hyperthyroidism.

Discussion: The lack of evidence that exogenous HDT causes osteoporosis, cardiac abnormalities or increases mortality compared with the significant morbidity and mortality of hyperthyroidism requires an alternative cause for the medical sequelae of hyperthyroidism. One possibility is an autoimmune mechanism.

Conclusion: High circulating levels of thyroid hormone is not the cause of the sequela of hyperthyroidism. The reluctance to using high dose thyroid is unwarranted.

Keywords: Bipolar; Etiology; Hyperthyroidism; Iatrogenic; Morbidity; Sequelae.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Bibliographic / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / blood*
  • Hyperthyroidism / complications
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism*
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood*


  • Thyroid Hormones