Dissociative Disorders & Hyperthyroidism?

Tokyo, Japan. Researchers report a case study of a 20 year-old woman who claims amnesia for episodes of shoplifting behaviors and a suicide attempt. Doctors linked her apparent hyperthyroidism to a dissociative disorder – what?

Dissociative disorders, states the Mayo Clinic, are characterized as follows: “We all get lost in a good book or movie. But someone with dissociative disorder escapes reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy. The symptoms of dissociative disorders — ranging from amnesia to alternate identities — usually develop as a reaction to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay.We all get lost in a good book or movie. But someone with dissociative disorder escapes reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy. The symptoms of dissociative disorders — ranging from amnesia to alternate identities — usually develop as a reaction to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay.”

This is the first report I’ve read that associates dissociative disorders with the thyroid gland which regulates the body’s metabolism. In the case study below, the patient claimed amnesia for events which is a fundamental symptom of dissociation so perhaps that’s why a diagnosis of dissociative disorder was reached? What if the patient is faking amnesia to avoid culpability for allegedly shoplifting? Will she now be saddled with a dissociative disorder that could easily morph into full-blown case of Dissociative Identity Disorder where she will start to exhibit multiple personalities? We may never know unless a follow-up study or report is published.

The authors of this paper are associated with the Tokyo Women’s Medical University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan. Their findings were published in the journal of General Hospital Psychiatry.

~~~~~~~~~

Dissociative disorder due to associated with Graves’ hyperthroidism: a case report*

Received 20 June 2006; accepted 20 October 2006.

  • Kaoru Mizutani, M.D., Tokyo Women’s Medical University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
  • Katsuji Nishimura, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Tokyo Women’s Medical University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan. Corresponding author at: Department of Psychiatry, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, School of Medicine
  • Atsuhiro Ichihara, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Medicine II, Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo Women’s Medical University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
  • Jun Ishigooka, M.D., Ph.D.,, Department of Psychiatry, Tokyo Women’s Medical University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan

Abstract

We report the case of a 20-year-old Japanese woman with no prior psychiatric history with apparent dissociative symptoms. These consisted of amnesia for episodes of shoplifting behaviors and a suicide attempt, developing together with an exacerbation of Graves’ hyperthyroidism. Patients with Graves’ disease frequently manifest various psychiatric disorders; however, very few reports have described dissociative disorder due to this disease. Along with other possible causes, for example, encephalopathy associated with autoimmune thyroid disease, clinicians should be aware of this possibility.

*The title is exactly as it appears in the journal of General Psychiatry.

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