Thyroid UK
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Panic attacks

I am hypo with a TSH of 2.9. That's all the doctor tests for. I have been on 50mg since diagnosis over three years ago. I am retired and find I am so tired I can't wait to go to bed. What bothers me is as I am about to fall asleep I suddenly sit up as I feel I can't breathe. I have never had this before and am not particularly stressed or depressed. Could I be experiencing panic attacks? Would appreciate any advice on this matter

11 Replies

Hello wednesday,

Yes panic attacks can be a symptom of hypothyroidism, and I wonder if you have sleep apnea too which others have reported as problematic for them. Have you had a full range of tests done to check whether you are deficient in some vitamins/minerals or to find out your actual level of the active thyroid hormone T3? You may be undertreated.

Check this page on the main website for symptoms:

and then if necessary go to your doctor and ask for these tests to be done:

It may be that you need more thyroid replacement, or a different kind (some people do better on Natural Desiccated Thyroid and/or with some T3) and/or with certain supplements. Everyone is different so check the above pages then see your doctor again.

Jane x x


I've been getting the exact same thing (about to fall asleep, then suddenly it feels like I can't breathe, so I have to sit up) on and off for several years, and I'm still here :) Everyone I've talked to about it, both GPs and alternative therapists alike, says it's panic attacks. I do get pretty anxious and stressed out, but my hynotherapist tells me even calm people can get them. Subconciously you may be a lot more stressed and anxious than you're aware of. I've found mine come and go of their own accord, often for seemingly no reason.

What has helped me deal with having them (not eliminating them) is seeing a hypnotherapist. He's helped me to not panic about having a panic attack (lol). If you're lucky you might be able to get referred to one via your GP, but if not, in my experience at least it's worth the money. Mine is extremely accomodating and only charges me half price because of my being ill and unemployed.



I suffered with panic attacks and anxiety before diagnosis, and when on too low a dose of thyroxine/Armour. I suspect that in my case it was caused by my adrenal glands releasing extra adrenaline to compensate for the lack of T3... It also happened in bed at night when I was trying to go to sleep - I would get a surge of adrenaline and be ready for fight or flight, but sadly not sleep :( Much better now that I am well-medicated :) xx


whoa there.. that's not panic attack, that's sleep apnoea

it's a common symptom of thyroid issues. I got it a lot until i got my meds right.. you need to write down all your issues and go back and ask for more drugs.. TSH alone is poor practice but even that shows that you could be a bit lower... my endo says I should be 0.3 to 0.9.. so "normal" is a bit of a guess and if you've already had trouble, you don't need normal you need "optimal" to feel good.

Episodes of interrupted breathing are often visible in someone with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) who is asleep. OSA can also cause other symptoms, often due to tiredness resulting from lack of deep sleep.

Most people with OSA snore loudly. Their breathing may be noisy and laboured, and it is often interrupted by gasping and snorting with each episode of apnoea.

If you have OSA, you may have no memory of your interrupted breathing during the night. However, when you wake up you are likely to feel as though you have not had a good night's sleep.

Other symptoms of OSA include:

•feeling very sleepy during the day

•waking up with a sore or dry throat

•poor memory and concentration

•headaches (particularly in the morning)

•irritability and a short temper



•lack of interest in sex

•in men, impotence (inability to get or maintain an erection)

Some people with OSA may also wake up frequently during the night to urinate.


Thanks for the replies, nice to know I am not alone with this problem. I know I should see the doctor, the one I see isn't very helpful and wants to prescribe antidepressants for everything. I know I haven't ever had this problem before, even when I was under a lot of stress. My husband says I don't snore ( he does). I do have to go to the loo quite a bit in night.I am and always have been a poor sleeper, but resist the urge to sleep in the day. I know my iron levels are okay as I asked my doctor when I last had a blood test ( have been anaemic in the past). I will make an appointment and see if I can see someone else ( they don't like this and ask you to see the GP you normally see).Thanks again


"I know my iron levels are OK as I asked my dr" - but did you get a print out of the results? What was your serum ferritin level, ie your blood iron storage? You might have been told it was within range, but the range (which may well prove not to be evidence based, people tested in the past to establish it may well have been sick) doesn't tell you whether you have an optimal level, ie, the best level. So you could have a serum ferritin of 20 and be in range, but you probably need a level of about 60 at least to feel well. And that's if you have no inflammation going on anywhere in your body. If you have some inflammation in joints, gut etc, then your serum ferritin range will not be reliable.

Ring the surgery and ask for a print out on your last iron tests. I would.


Hi aspmama, Thanks for the advice, I was only told my iron level was 12 after being 10 before treatment. The doctor then told me to stop the ferrous sulphate which he had prescribed. I am going to see him next week, I will ask him for a print out but don't know whether he will be happy with it. Why is it so hard for us to get our doctors to listen to us without constantly saying we are depressed and that is why we are tired.I will try asking the receptionist first before seeing the doctor, depending on which one is that day. They are pretty good as a rule. Thanks again for advice


I always started to feel tired and panicky whenever my TSH went over about 3. By the way, people will only be notified by email that you've responded to them if you answer their message by clicking on 'reply to this'. Otherwise they'll only see your reply if they search for the thread again.


thanks for that Zabby I didn't realise I should "reply to this" will know in the future.I do think it's because I am under medicated as I haven't had these before. I am going to see the doctor this week, not looking forward to it as he he thinks he knows what is best for me. All I get offered is anti depressants, but I am not depressed and don't like taking tablets just for the sake of it. He actually gave me a prescription last time but I told him I wouldn't be taking them, so he took it off me. I guess because 17 years ago I did have depression, they think I am more likely to get it again. My dad died and that was what caused it amongst other personal issues in my life.


Every single thyroid book I've read said that the TSH should be under 2 and at least one of the endocrinologists I've seen has said it should be under 1.5, so it's worth trying to argue for a trial of taking 75mcg to see if it improves your symptoms. But I know what talking to GPs is like! Good luck with the appointment.


Yes I have read a lot about TSH levels being on the lower side for best results. I wish our doctors understood this, I am sure there are a few that do. I can but try!! Will let you know outcome.


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