Anxiety and depression, attention, and executive functions in hypothyroidism.
BACKGROUND: Divergences in cognitive disturbances in hypothyroidism reported in the literature are a result of a methodological bias. METHODS: By using a precise methodology, we examined attention and executive functions in hypothyroidism, verified the presence of anxiety and depressive symptoms in hypothyroidism, and examined the possible link between these symptoms and the cognitive disturbances (searching for attentional bias for words with a negative emotional valence). We administered a battery of cognitive tests to 23 participants who had undergone thyroidectomy for thyroid carcinoma: for the first time in an euthyroid state, then 3 weeks later (still in the euthyroid state) to assess the test/retest effect, and finally 4 weeks later in an hypothyroid state. We compared their performance with that of a group of 26 control participants who were also administered the same cognitive tests, also 3 times. RESULTS: In hypothyroidism, the thyroid participants were more anxious and depressed than the controls and presented attentional and executive disturbances that reflected general slowing and difficulties in using their capacities of inhibition. However, they did not exhibit an attentional bias for words with a negative emotional valence. CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to what was expected, symptoms of anxiety and not symptoms of depression interfered with the cognitive performance of participants in hypothyroidism.