Can Thyroid Problems Cause Anxiety?

By Dr. Nicole Cain ND, MA
Feb 18, 2017
5:29 pm

You suffer from intense feelings of panic. Heart racing, trembling, flushes of heat, and sweating. Your doctors have told you it’s just anxiety and that you’ll have to learn to manage it. To curb the symptoms, you were prescribed an antidepressant (Zoloft), sleep aide (trazodone), and a benzodiazepine (Xanax).

Now, in addition to anxiety, you have a low libido, you’ve 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 don’t 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 toe—that 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.

Can thyroid problems cause anxiety?

Today I want to focus on the thyroid-anxiety link.

There are two main types of thyroid disorders: Hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is where your thyroid is under-active, or under-functioning. In contrast, hyperthyroidism is where your thyroid is over-active, and over-functioning. An autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can cause the thyroid to alternate between hypo-and hyper states.

QUIZ: Should I have my thyroid checked?

If you answered “yes” to 3 or more of these, it is time to get your thyroid checked.

What labs should I have done?

The thyroid labs I run on my patients include: TSH, Free T3, Reverse T3, Free T4, Anti TPO antibodies, anti TG antibodies.

It is important to understand what these names mean, and what your labs are telling you so that you can ensure your doctor is running all of the proper labs, and so that your doctor can employ a proper treatment.

Demystifying The Thyroid

Your brain releases a hormone called TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) that communicates with your thyroid gland (which lives in your neck). TSH does just what the name implies—it stimulates your thyroid gland to release thyroid hormone. In response, your thyroid gland will release T3 and T4 thyroid hormone.

T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone that helps you have energy and is involved in almost every metabolic process in your body. 99% of total T4 is bound quite tightly to a protein and is not very metabolically active. T4 converts into T3 when needed so that the body has proper amounts of thyroid hormone to work with.

It gets even trickier than this: If your body does not have the right nutrients, it will make something called reverse T3. Reverse T3 is not an active form of thyroid. When we do a T3 thyroid test it bundles together both regular T3 and reverse T3. Therefore unless we test them separately we do not actually know if you have enough active thyroid hormone.

This means that your T3 thyroid test can look perfectly normal and you could actually have a thyroid problem!

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that is often seen in people with vitamin D deficiency, heavy metal exposure, gluten sensitivity (even if they are not celiac), gut dysbiosis, and other diseases with autoimmunity.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can cause your thyroid to spike up and become overly active, and then drop down and become underactive. The tests we run for this are Anti Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) and anti Thyroglobulin (TG). Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can cause you to alternate between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

In a glance:

Tips for success:

This is just one example of how to investigate if your thyroid problems can cause anxiety. By getting to the cause of your symptoms you will be empowered to stop kicking the dresser and start on the road to a new life.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Whenever considering changing your protocol whether it includes a change of medications, supplements, diet or lifestyle, always speak with your primary care physician first.

Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational free resources, online courses, and membership group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.