I want to point out a connection that I don’t think people talk much about: anxiety and hypothyroidism.
It’s counterintuitive, because hypothyroidism, in which thyroid function is low, is all about a slow down of metabolism and leads to fatigue, slow heartbeat, inability to tolerate cold, and weight gain. Anxiety is more likely to be associated with hyperthyroidism, in which thyroid function is high, along with metabolism. But let me explain to you how and why anxiety and low thyroid are indeed connected.
Low thyroid and low adrenal function
The adrenal glands, two small pyramid-shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys, produce cortisol, which helps produce glucose so the body has the energy it needs to adapt and to handle stress. When the adrenal glands can’t produce enough cortisol, that’s known as adrenal fatigue. This can lead to fatigue, muscle and joint pain and low blood pressure. If you know anything about hypothyroidism, you’ll recognize these symptoms. The two conditions are distinct, but I have seen in my practice that many people have both.
If you’re taking desiccated thyroid for hypothyroidism and it’s not giving you back the quality of life you and your doctor expected, look into taking supplemental cortisol, too. This additional boost can help your treatment for hypothyroidism work even better. Why? Because when the adrenal glands aren’t working at full capacity and supporting the body with its energy needs, even regular thyroid activity is too much to sustain. Plus, cortisol will help the body use the thyroid hormone that’s in the blood.
Low thyroid and low neurotransmitters
Thyroid hormones affect multiple neurotransmitters in the brain, including GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety. When thyroid levels are low, so are GABA levels, and anxiety can increase.
Thyroid hormones also affect serotonin, another neurotransmitter. Serotonin is known to help with mood and happiness, and consequently, when it’s impeded, mood can change – and anxiety can appear.
Is it hypo- or hyper- ?
I mentioned above that anxiety is associated with both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. I’ve been focusing on the former because I see more people with low thyroid than I do with high. However, hyperthyroidism can be a serious condition and is certainly a cause of anxiety.
It may seem funny that two opposite conditions – high thyroid and low thyroid – could lead to the same result, anxiety. That’s just how the body works; everything is connected, and each imbalance can have widespread effects. If you believe you have an issue with your thyroid, and you have been experiencing anxiety, check out the other symptoms of these two conditions and see if any of them sound familiar.
You may have hypothyroidism if you’re experiencing:
- Weight gain
- Inability to lose weight
- Joint and muscle pain
- Slow heart rate
- Dry skin
- Cold intolerance
- Loss of outer third of eyebrow
You may have hyperthyroidism if you’re also experiencing:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Heart palpitations
- Heat intolerance
- An enlarged thyroid gland (a goiter)
Note that fatigue and muscle weakness are common to both.
Address your anxiety today
At the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, we spend time with all of our guests to understand where they are in their health and where they want to be. If you’re ready to be rid of your anxiety, and you’re interested in natural alternatives that will get you back on the road to good health, then call us today at 281.698.8698.