Natural Medicine MD Claims Medication Errors Raise Questions About Thyroid

Share Article

The enormousness of this family medicine issue is magnified by the fact that many of our country's so-called depressed or bipolar patients actually have simple low thyroid as their actual diagnosis. That's right, the mental symptoms of easily-treated sluggish metabolism are all too often misdiagnosed as depression or bi-polar illness, according to practicing thyroid expert and author, Richard L. Shames, M.D. In his latest book, Thyroid Mind Power (Rodale, 2011), Dr. Shames summarizes hundreds of research articles on this surprising topic.

Dr. Richard Shames

Dr. Richard Shames

“Much safer and vastly less expensive thyroid medicines could often replace current antidepressant prescriptions, if people and their doctors could just be more aware of the extremely common, but frequently overlooked thyroid connection to mental health,”

On August 22, 2011 the FDA began notifying health professionals and the general public of an alarming number of anti-depressant medication errors resulting in sudden hospitalization. Patients who were given the drug risperidone (brand name Risperdal) instead of ropinirole (brand name Requip), and vice versa, in some cases had very serious adverse reactions. In addition to the obvious similarity of drug and chemical names, there is also similarity of container label, carton packaging, drug strength, dosage forms, and dosing intervals. The effects on the body, however are worrisomely different.

Risperidone is used in certain depressive disorders, while ropinorole is used for Parkinson’s. It is chemically not a good idea to get these two drugs mixed up. Doctor's notoriously illegible hand writing on prescription pads was also cited by the FDA as part of this growing problem that encompasses other drug similarities.

The scope of this issue is huge. Multiple studies confirm the surprising news that thyroid problems are extremely common, but often hidden. 1 of 10 Americans has some degree of thyroid imbalance, and half of them do not even know it. They continue to suffer with symptoms frequently misdiagnosed as other conditions, such as depression.

“Much safer and vastly less expensive [thyroid medicines could often replace current antidepressant prescriptions, if people and their doctors could just be more aware of the extremely common, but frequently overlooked thyroid connection to mental health,” said Shames.

A 2010 publication in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics by researchers at Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatrics entitled “Pediatric antidepressant medication errors in a national error reporting database” cited that of the 451 error reports identified, 95% reached the patient, 6.4% reached the patient and necessitated increased monitoring and/or treatment, and 77% involved medications being used off label. The researchers concluded that, “Pediatric antidepressant errors often reach patients, frequently involve off-label use of medications, and occur with varying severity and type depending on location and type of medication prescribed.” (J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2010 Feb-Mar;31(2):129-36.)

"Is it depression or low thyroid?"
In the last 25 years a great many good research studies have shown that up to 40% of what psychiatrists diagnose as depression, is actually thyroid imbalance. Many depressions, as well as instances of bipolar, that are refractory to standard psychiatric medicines are actually much better and more successfully treated with thyroid hormone. Dr. Shames further explained that, “Treatment with thyroid hormone is much less expensive and carries much less in the way of risks and side effects than the more standard treatment with Prozac or Zoloft, especially when mental sluggishness of low thyroid is mis-diagnosed as clinical depression.”

Better ways of making a more accurate distinction between thyroid problems and depression now exist. Improved diagnostic technology is currently available via quality home test kits ordered by doctors or patients themselves through the internet. ( Dr. Shames applauds this innovation, since regular thyroid blood tests are so distressingly unreliable. According to this thyroid doctor, "The medical climate is ripe for change."

Richard Shames, MD is a practicing physician, teacher and author. He graduated Harvard and University of Pennsylvania, did research at the National Institutes of Health with Nobel Prize winner Marshall Nirenberg, and has been in private practice for twenty five years. In addition to his medical office work, he has been a member of the Clinical Faculty of the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco, a founding member of the American Holistic Medical Association, a participant in the Carl Menninger Foundation, and a member of Who's Who in California as well as nationally. He has served as Adjunct Faculty at Florida Atlantic University.

Dr. Shames has published a number of health-related books. In addition, he is a popular speaker and local media personality, and has created his own audio and video tape series. The author is well known for his prominence and pioneering work in the holistic field. His newest book is Thyroid Mind Power.

For more information please contact Julie Dietz at [Preventive Medical Center of Marin l ocated at 25 Mitchell Blvd # 8 San Rafael, CA 94903. She can be reached at 415-472-2343 extension 7. For further information about Dr. Shames, visit


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Ernie Hubbard

Julie Dietz
Visit website