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Anxiety and Depression

Two symptoms associated with thyroid disorders are anxiety and depression. More specifically, anxiety is thought to be symptomatic of too much thyroid hormone in the system, while depression is linked to too little thyroid hormone. However, since thyroid hormones fluctuate, whether a person is suffering from hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s is not as important as simply recognizing the connection with any thyroid disorder and mental health.

Emotional symptoms of anxiety include:

• Feelings of unease, apprehension or impending doom
• Anticipating the worst
• Irritability and tension
• Inability to concentrate or sit quietly

Physical symptoms of anxiety include:

• Upset stomach
• Muscle tension and tremors
• Racing heart
• Fatigue and insomnia
• Excessive sweating
• Feeling dizzy or short of breath

Emotional symptoms of depression include:

• Feeling sad, lost or empty
• Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
• Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
• Inability to concentrate
• Forgetfulness and inability to make decisions
• Feeling irritable or restless
• Suicidal thoughts

Physical symptoms of depression include:

• Insomnia or excessive sleeping
• Exhaustion
• Loss of appetite or excessive eating
• Headaches
• Aches, cramps or pains throughout the body
• Upset stomach
• Loss of libido

Symptoms of anxiety and depression can overlap. Anyone who is suffering with anxiety and/or depression should consider the thyroid connection. Fortunately some doctors and psychiatrists are now considering thyroid function prior to dosing patients with psychiatric medications. This is progress for sure, but unfortunately not all doctors are making the connection.

If a thyroid disorder is the underlying cause of anxiety or depression, no amount of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drugs are going to rectify the problems. This can be a vicious cycle for the person suffering from anxiety and/or depression. Patients are left feeling frustrated and alone when medications don’t eliminate the problems, medications are changed, or alternative therapies and stress reduction steps fail. In fact, no form of treatment will help unless the thyroid disorder is addressed and properly treated.

Fortunately, there is help! If you or someone you know is suffering from long-term anxiety and/or depression, consult with your physician to have your thyroid function tested. When the proper thyroid medication is prescribed, often the anxiety and depression symptoms are relieved. The effect may not be immediate, but with a little time and the correct medication, the patient will feel the clouds clearing.

I continue to emphasis the importance of listening to your body, educating yourself and searching for the doctor who will work with you as a teammate.
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