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Thyroid & Anxiety: What Is The Connection & Guide 2023
Anxiety disorders rank among the most common mental health problems, affecting millions of people worldwide. While the causes of anxiety are complex, some studies suggest that thyroid problems may contribute to the development of anxiety.
This article will explore the link between thyroid and anxiety, including what the thyroid is, how it affects mental health, and what treatments are available.
Can Thyroid Problems Cause Anxiety?
Yes! Studies have found that people with thyroid conditions are more likely to experience anxiety and depression. Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating mood and energy levels. When levels of thyroid hormones are too low or too high, it can cause imbalances in the brain that contribute to anxiety.
Why & How Do Thyroid Problems Cause Anxiety?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found at the center of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism among many other bodily functions. Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are the two primary hormones produced by the thyroid. These hormones are essential for various body functions, including brain performance.
The thyroid is regulated by the pituitary gland, which produces thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH). The thyroid-stimulating hormone stimulates thyroid hormone production according to the body’s needs. If the thyroid is not functioning correctly, it can cause imbalances in the levels of hormone TSH and thyroid hormones, leading to health problems.
When levels of thyroid hormones are too low or too high, it can cause imbalances in the brain that contribute to anxiety. Thyroid problems can also affect the production of other hormones, such as cortisol, which can further affect your mental health.
Moreover, thyroid disease can lead to physical symptoms that contribute to anxiety. For example, an underactive thyroid can cause fatigue, weight gain, and muscle weakness. These symptoms can make it difficult to maintain an active lifestyle and carry out daily activities, leading to feelings of frustration and anxiety.
Hypothyroidism is a condition wherein the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone, affecting metabolism, energy levels, and body temperature.
Studies have shown a link between low thyroid and anxiety. In hypothyroidism, the decrease in thyroid hormone levels can lead to a range of symptoms, including fatigue, lethargy, weight gain, and a general feeling of low energy. These physical symptoms, combined with hormonal imbalance, can contribute to the development of depression and other mood disorders.
Thyroid hormones play a role in the production and regulation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are involved in mood regulation. When the thyroid gland is not functioning properly, the levels of these neurotransmitters can become imbalanced, leading to symptoms of mood disorders.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces and releases too much thyroid hormone. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including weight loss, increased appetite, nervousness, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and sensitivity to heat. The hormonal imbalance caused by excess thyroid hormone levels can disrupt the body’s normal functioning, leading to mood changes and depressive episodes.
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Thyroid Anxiety Symptoms
Thyroid issues and anxiety are closely linked. Thyroid disorders can cause a range of symptoms that contribute to anxiety, including:
- Nervousness and restlessness.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Weight changes.
- Muscle weakness.
- Panic attacks.
- Psychiatric symptoms.
If you think you are experiencing issues with your thyroid and anxiety attacks, it is important to speak with your doctor. They can perform tests to determine whether your symptoms are indeed related to thyroid problems or other health conditions.
The treatment for thyroid anxiety depends on the underlying cause of the problem. If the anxiety disorder is related to an underactive thyroid, the primary treatment is thyroid hormone replacement therapy. This involves taking synthetic thyroid hormones to replace the hormones that the thyroid is not producing.
If the anxiety is related to an overactive thyroid, treatment options may include medications to block the production of thyroid hormones or radioactive iodine therapy to destroy the thyroid gland. In extreme cases, surgical removal of the thyroid gland may be required.
How To Treat Thyroid Anxiety
There are several things that people with thyroid anxiety can do to manage their symptoms.
Exercise has long been recognized as key to managing anxiety. Physical activity releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress levels. Regular exercise can also improve overall physical health, which can have a positive impact on your mental well-being.
Yoga for depression is a great example of this. Engaging in aerobic exercises like running, swimming, or cycling has demonstrated effectiveness in alleviating anxiety symptoms.
Stress management is crucial to managing anxiety. Individuals living with anxiety disorder may experience increased stress levels. Learning stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and meditation, can help someone with anxiety.
Eating a healthy diet can help to support the thyroid and improve overall health.
- A hypothyroidism diet involves consuming foods rich in iodine, selenium, and zinc, as these nutrients are essential for thyroid function. Iodine deficiency can exacerbate hyperthyroidism symptoms. Foods like seaweed, seafood, eggs, nuts, and whole grains are good sources of these nutrients.
- Hypothyroid patients should avoid consuming goitrogenic foods like broccoli, cabbage, and soy, as these foods can interfere with thyroid hormone production.
- The focus of a hyperthyroidism diet is to reduce the intake of foods that stimulate the thyroid gland. It is recommended for patients with hyperthyroidism to limit iodine intake to no more than 150 mcg per day. Foods high in iodine include sea vegetables, dairy products, and iodized salt.
Support groups for anxiety provide a safe and non-judgmental environment for individuals with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism to share their experiences, learn coping strategies, and receive emotional support from others who are going through similar challenges.
These groups can be led by mental health professionals or peers with similar lived experiences. They can be in-person or online and can provide a sense of community and belonging. If you are interested in joining an anxiety support group, consider reaching out to a mental health professional or searching online for local resources.
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant that has been gaining attention for its potential therapeutic benefits. One of the most widely studied applications of CBD is its use for anxiety disorders.
One type of therapy for thyroid anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of therapy that helps people to recognize and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors that fuel anxiety. CBT has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders, including those related to thyroid dysfunction.
During CBT sessions, a therapist will work with the person to identify negative thought patterns and behaviors and develop strategies to replace them with more positive ones. CBT can be done individually or in a group setting and typically involves weekly sessions that last around 12 weeks.
It might be worth it to look into the best online therapy programs for help in finding the right therapy for you.
Another treatment for thyroid anxiety is medication. Several medications can be used to treat anxiety disorders, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers. These medications work by affecting the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood, depression, and anxiety.
The medication prescribed will vary based on the individual’s unique symptoms and medical history. It is essential to speak with a doctor about the potential benefits and risks of medication before starting treatment.
Thyroid dysfunction can contribute to the development of anxiety disorders, but there are treatments available to help manage symptoms.
If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, speak with your doctor to determine whether they are related to thyroid problems or other health conditions. With the right treatment, it is possible to manage thyroid anxiety and improve mental health and quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, thyroid problems can contribute to the development of anxiety. Both an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can affect the production and regulation of hormones in the body, which can impact mood and anxiety levels.
An overactive thyroid can lead to increased levels of thyroid hormones, such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones can cause symptoms such as nervousness, irritability, restlessness, and a racing heart, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety.
Yes, an underactive thyroid can also contribute to anxiety symptoms. When the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, it can lead to feelings of fatigue, depression, and brain fog, which can contribute to anxiety.
Treating thyroid-related anxiety involves addressing the underlying thyroid condition. This may include medication to regulate thyroid hormone levels, such as antithyroid drugs or thyroid hormone replacement therapy. In some cases, therapy or counseling may also be beneficial in managing anxiety symptoms.
Yes, anxiety can potentially impact thyroid function. Stress and anxiety can disrupt the balance of hormones in the body, including those produced by the thyroid gland. This can lead to changes in thyroid function, exacerbating existing thyroid issues or triggering new ones.
Managing anxiety related to a thyroid condition involves a comprehensive approach. This may include a combination of medical treatment for the thyroid condition, such as medication or surgery if necessary, along with therapy or counseling to address anxiety symptoms.
Yes, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional if you are experiencing anxiety related to your thyroid condition. They can assess your symptoms, conduct appropriate tests, and develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
+ 9 sources
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