Treatment Of Anxiety Related To Thyroid
If the anxiety is due to thyroid disorder, treating the thyroid condition will help in alleviating the anxiety. However together with thyroid medications, you should also consider mental health management. Anxiety due to thyroid condition can also be relieved using medications for mental health. But this will provide only temporary relief and in some cases no relief at all.
When treated for mental health management with medications like beta blockers, atenolol, Ambien, benzodiazepines and other related drugs, it is possible to experience severe side effects and very little improvement in health. However when treated with thyroid hormone like cytomel, thyroid function is improved.
With proper thyroid hormone secretion mood improvement is also seen.For permanent relief, you need to consider managing the underlying thyroid condition.
A 2016 study published in Indian Journal of Endocrinology and metabolism reveals the difficulties associated with the presence of anxiety and other depressive symptoms in hypothyroid patients. The study uses Hamilton scale for measuring anxiety and depression.
The study done on 100 patients with hypothyroidism reveals that if thyroid hormone treatment is not working for hypothyroid patients, they should be checked for presence of anxiety and depression symptoms and the symptoms managed accordingly.
Could Your Thyroid Cause Anxiety And Depression
If you experience anxiety or depression, your thyroid could be part of the cause. Place your hand gently on your throat and notice the feel of a tube . Now, close your eyes and picture a small butterfly perched across the front of the trachea. That’s your thyroid, an imperceptible yet powerful gland that plays a big role in your body’s functioning, including, possibly, anxiety and depression. While research studies thus far have found mixed results regarding the thyroid’s role in mental health, there is enough evidence linking thyroid functioning to anxiety and depressive disorders to consider your thyroid as a possible cause of anxiety or depression.
How the Thyroid Keeps Us Functioning
The thyroid plays an important role in our physical health, and more and more, it appears that the thyroid also impacts mental health, including anxiety and depression. The major tasks of this two-inch gland include regulating:
- Metabolism, which is the rate at which every cell in the body turns the nutrients from the food you eat into fuel
- Body temperature
- How deep your breathing is when you’re not trying to influence it
- Cholesterol levels
- Aspects of the menstrual cycle
As far as medical science knows, the thyroid doesn’t regulate our mood or how anxious we feel. Depression, anxiety, and the thyroid forge their connection when things start to go wrong with the thyroid.
How To Manage And Treat Anxiety
The good news is that both hypothyroidism and anxiety are highly treatable. According to Solomon, proven ways to manage anxiety include:
- Working with a therapist
- Doing mind-body exercises such as yoga
- Meditating or practicing other mindfulness techniques
- Taking hypothyroidism and anti-anxiety medications as prescribed
Solomon is especially fond of teaching her clients mindfulness as a way to counter anxious thoughts. Watch your thoughts just observe them. Then ask, Is this thought true? Is it overly negative? she suggests. Then ask yourself, Can I replace this thought with something more positive?
In some cases, treating hypothyroidism alleviates anxiety completely although this is mostly when anxiety symptoms came on suddenly as a result of too-low thyroid levels, Solomon says. But it many cases, hypothyroidism and anxiety need to be treated concurrently, though treating one will help ease the other.
If you have both hypothyroidism and anxiety, be sure to work with your doctor to monitor both conditions. Initiation of treatment and adjustment of thyroid hormone dose should be guided by both laboratory testing and symptoms, ideally by a supportive and understanding healthcare provider, says Rosenfeld. People with anxiety or panic disorder may require more frequent thyroid laboratory testing, as it is difficult to distinguish between thyroid dysfunction and mental health concerns, she adds.
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Linking Hypothyroidism With Depression
To help your doctor figure out if your depression is because of hypothyroidism, they should test you for thyroid disorders. Blood tests can confirm them if they show low levels of a thyroid hormone called thyroxine and a high level of one called thyroid-stimulating hormone .
Studies show that if you have both hypothyroidism and depression, thyroid-replacement medications may work better than antidepressants. They boost levels of two major thyroid hormones: triiodothyronine and thyroxin . When thyroid pills lower TSH levels, you may start feeling better.
Effect Of Depression Treatment On Thyroid Status
Normalization of pretreatment thyroid function tests mainly T4 levels with remission of depression has been reported . Whether this is related to clinical recovery or merely a result of a direct effect of antidepressants remains to be determined.
Both tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs appear to enhance the activity of D2 resulting in an increased conversion of T4 into active T3 in the brain. T3 was suggested to enhance neurotransmission in the central noradrenergic pathways and deficiency in catecholamines has been raised as a possible mechanism in depression . Additionally, it has been shown that anti-depressants with variable mechanisms of action have different effects on thyroid indices . Further studies are therefore required to better elucidate this complex interaction between the HPT axis and the neurotransmitter system.
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Is Your Thyroid The Cause Of Your Anxiety Depression
If you are living with anxiety or depression, how do you know if your thyroid is the cause? A good first step is to listen to your body. In addition to your symptoms of depression or your anxiety symptoms, what is going on that is out of the ordinary and interfering in your ability to live your life as you’ve been accustomed to in the past?
Next, get specific. Do you have any of the following symptoms of a thyroid condition?3
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism might include:
- Heart palpitations and/or a racing heart
- Heat intolerance
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Increased cholesterol
If you are experiencing multiple symptoms in either category, a visit to your doctor is important. Be sure to mention your anxiety or depression, too, as these can be a symptom of a thyroid disease, and thyroid disease can sometimes be a cause of anxiety and depression. Only a doctor can determine if you have a thyroid problem and, if so, whether there is a link to your mental health challenges.
If you do have anxiety or depression and a thyroid condition, treatment can be promising. Medication exists to treat or compensate for a non-functioning thyroid, and treating this potential cause of anxiety and depression can likewise improve these mental health disorders.
Is Hypothyroidism Really A Big Deal
The thyroid plays a central role in our total health, and when it slows down, as it does in hypothyroidism , it can lead to a host of symptoms and some serious problems.
Untreated Hashimotos and hypothyroidism can cause:
Impaired thyroid function can also have a devastating impact on fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood, and is often an undetected source of anguish, loss, and struggle because it can cause:
Increased risk of miscarriage and preterm birth
Higher risk of developing prenatal and postpartum depression – making what would otherwise be a beautiful time in their lives potentially traumatic.
Higher risk of developmental problems and autism
If this resonates with you, request a free 20-minute consultation to see if Functional Medicine might be right for you.
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Thyroid Screening May Not Be Needed In All Youth With Psychiatric Disorders
- University of Cincinnati
- A new study looks at the prevalence of abnormal thyroid function in youth with severe mood and anxiety disorder. It is the largest study to date of this population and will help mental health professionals better understand the predictors of abnormal thyroid function, like weight gain, family history, or treatment with specific medications.
A new study from researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s looks at the prevalence of abnormal thyroid function in youth with severe mood and anxiety disorder. It is the largest study to date of this population and will help mental health professionals better understand the predictors of abnormal thyroid function, like weight gain, family history or treatment with certain medications.
“I was interested in devising this study because I wanted to better understand any relationship between the physical illness and mood disorder,” says Marissa Luft, a third-year medical student at UC, and lead author on the study.
“These results suggest that screening, with a blood test, may be most helpful when the other predictors of thyroid disease are present,” added Strawn.
The results are available online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
An analysis of 1,319 patients under the age of 19, found that the thyroid-stimulating hormone concentrations were abnormal in just over 6% of the psychiatrically hospitalized youth at Cincinnati Children’s.
Treating An Underactive Thyroid
Treatment for an underactive thyroid involves taking daily hormone replacement tablets, called levothyroxine, to raise your thyroxine levels.
You’ll initially have regular blood tests until the correct dose of levothyroxine is reached. This can take a little while to get right.
Once you’re taking the correct dose, you’ll usually have a blood test once a year to monitor your hormone levels.
You’ll usually need treatment for the rest of your life. However, with proper treatment, you should be able to lead a normal, healthy life.
If an underactive thyroid is not treated, it can lead to complications, including heart disease, goitre, pregnancy problems and a life-threatening condition called myxoedema coma .
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Thyroid Disease & Anxiety
If youre feeling completely overwhelmed and always anxious, its time to get your thyroid checked. As a Functional Medicine Practitioner, one of the first tests I run when someone tells me they deal with chronic anxiety is a complete thyroid panel.
Having excess thyroid hormone such as in the case of Graves disease can also cause anxiety. What many people dont know is that this can also occur with Hashimotos.
When dealing with Hashimotos Thyroiditis, your immune system is attacking the thyroid gland. When your thyroid gland is under attack, thyroid hormones can spill over into the bloodstream triggering anxiety and even heart palpitations.
Its also important to understand that every single cell in the body has receptors for thyroid hormones, and without proper thyroid function many systems in your body suffer. Not only that, but thyroid hormones act directly on the brain among many other body systems which makes sense as to how it can affect anxiety levels.
Types Of Thyroid Imbalances
There are a number of different conditions that affect the thyroid, but two of the most common problems are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, happens when the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones. It tends to affect women more frequently than men. It can occur at any age, but it also tends to be more common in adults over the age of 60.
- Hyperthyroidism, also known as an overactive thyroid, happens when the body produces too much thyroid hormone. Many people who have an overactive thyroid experience some type of anxiety symptoms. However, research also suggests that depression is also very common, affecting as many as 69% of people with hyperthyroidism.
Other types of thyroid disorders and problems include Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, goiter, and thyroid nodules.
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Why Are So Many Women Experiencing Thyroid Problems
Many factors can interfere with thyroid function, which requires healthy thyroid tissue, the ability to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone, conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone to its active form , and the effective binding of thyroid hormone to your cellular receptors a key and lock type of effect that activates all of the thyroids activities in your body.
Here are some of the top factors that can interfere with these processes:
Environmental Toxin Exposure and Detoxification Overload: We are living in a veritable sea of environmental toxins about 80,000, in fact, from hormones to heavy metals that can interfere with thyroid function. This toxic burden, which affects us from a very young age, even before we are born, can cause both direct damage and also overloads our ability to detoxify fast enough to keep up. The daily and cumulative impact of these are often overlooked, but they are taking a toll on our thyroid health. Pesticides on non-organic foods, lawn chemicals, personal care products with perfumes, household cleaners, plastics, makeup, water and air pollution all add up in a big way.
Immune System Confusion: Environmental toxins, chronic stress, nutritional insufficiencies, leaky gut, food intolerances, being overweight, and having chronic inflammation are all factors that can lead the immune system to become confused and eventually start to attack our own tissue which is exactly what is happening in Hashimotos.
What Causes Anxiety In Hypothyroidism
Why are people with hypothyroidism more likely to develop anxiety? “One theory is that simply having a physical problem like hypothyroidism can increase anxiety,” says Cheryl R. Rosenfeld, DO, a spokesperson for the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists , partner at North Jersey Endocrine Consultants, and adjunct clinical associate professor of medicine at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. “Symptoms of hypothyroidism include poor concentration, decreased memory, and difficulty performing daily activities all of which can be anxiety-producing.”
Not getting proper treatment for hypothyroidism can contribute to anxiety, as well. Levothyroxine is a common treatment for hypothyroidism, but if your dose is too high, it can directly lead to anxiety and cause symptoms like rapid heartbeat and shakiness, which can make anxiety worse, says Rosenfeld. And if hypothyroidism is not treated, symptoms like dry skin, sensitivity to cold, hoarse voice, and mood swings will persist. Over time, untreated hypothyroidism can cause heart issues like a weak pulse or heart failure, which may provoke further anxiety.
Anxiety can also make it harder to stick to your hypothyroidism treatment if it causes you to forget to take medications or causes problems going to the doctor or sticking to a healthy lifestyle.
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The Impact Of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. In a lot of ways, it’s the opposite of hypothyroidism. Instead of causing a slow metabolism, hyperthyroidism can cause the metabolism to operate too quickly, making it difficult to gain and retain weight. Instead of feeling depressed, you may feel anxious or nervous with hyperthyroidism. You might also experience heart palpitations, difficulties with sleeping or tolerating heat, and muscle weakness. Anxiety is the most common mental health concern caused by hyperthyroidism, with 60% of hyperthyroidism patients reporting it. However, hyperthyroidism can also occasionally cause depressive symptoms, especially among elderly people. People with hyperthyroidism can also develop a large thyroid, or goiter, in the neck. It may also lead to Grave’s ophthalmopathy, which causes the eyes to bulge out of their sockets. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor for further evaluation.
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Can Thyroid Problems Cause Anxiety
You suffer from intense feelings of panic. Heart racing, trembling, flushes of heat, and sweating. Your doctors have told you its just anxiety and that youll have to learn to manage it. To curb the symptoms, you were prescribed an antidepressant , sleep aide , and a benzodiazepine .
Now, in addition to anxiety, you have a low libido, youve gained weight from the sugar cravings driving you to double size your morning pick-me-up, and you feel zoned out during the day which is starting to negatively impact your work.
There is another solution. You dont have to feel like this.
With every symptom, it is absolutely essential to consider the root cause. Without investigating the root cause we cannot find comfort in a cure. Just like if you kick the dresser and stub your toe every morning, no matter how much aspirin you take, you will never enjoy a pain-free toethat is, unless you stop kicking the dresser.
Similarly, if you do not look for the root cause of your anxiety, you may never enjoy the possibility of freedom until you investigate the cause.
While causes vary from person to person, for example: Trauma, medication side effect, stress in the home or work place, there may biological causes of your symptoms.
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Nourish Your Thyroid And Improve Your Mood
The first thing to do if you suffer from a thyroid problem that has affected your mood is to talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner. There are many strategies that can be used to balance your mood as well as certain nutrients and herbs to help your body adapt to changing hormone levels. It will help to consume a diet filled with fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.
Treatment Of Subclinical Hypothyroidism
Several relatively small studies have looked at the effect of treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism with thyroxine on psychological well-being/depression . The studies are listed in table table2.2. The first four studies are placebo controlled and show no benefit from thyroxine replacement, except for Meier et al. which shows improvement but only in those who started with a TSH > 12 mIU/l. It could be questioned whether this represents subclinical or overt hypothyroidism. The other two are not placebo controlled, but have results compared to controls . They both show improvement in well-being scores back down to levels seen in controls without thyroid disease however, the lack of a placebo arm raises concerns about the placebo effect. Overall, the evidence is not convincing for a significant benefit of treatment, however there is a lack of larger placebo-controlled studies.
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