Has anyone experienced psychological symptoms before being diagnosed with a thyroid problem?

I have been having both psychological and physical symptoms over the past few months but the doctors I've seen are putting it all down to anxiety despite having done next to no investigations/tests except the basic thyroid profile months ago which I had to virtually beg my GP for. My anxiety has been pretty extreme recently and it comes out of nowhere, I've been getting spells of dizziness and brain fog too and for the past few days have been seeing weird dark spots/flashes of light/not sure how best to describe them in my peripheral vision. I had an eye test and was told I have very good vision so my sight is not to blame for this.

I got so worried I might be developing Schizophrenia but several doctors have reassured me that this is not the case as I don't appear psychotic and have no other major symptoms of this like thought disorder or auditory hallucinations. I certainly don't feel crazy which is what makes these symptoms like the peripheral hallucinations, anxiety, foggyness etc. even scarier because I am hyper-aware of what is going on.

Aside from the foggyness, dizziness and vision tricks for the past several months I've had unusually dry, lifeless hair, dry skin, my lips have been peeling every day and feeling quite lethargic. I also suffer on and off from large, painful mouth ulcers, not regular ones but ones that get so bad I can barely eat or talk without significant discomfort, not sure if this is a widely-recognised thyroid-y symptom but I'm just noting my main symptoms that may be relevant.

Sorry for the long post but thanks to those who read it and I would be very interested to hear if any of you have had psychological symptoms prior to being diagnosed with a thyroid disease. Getting doctors to do any tests is like getting blood from a stone and I'm not sure what the best step to take next is. Thanks in advance.

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23 Replies

  • Do you have the results of your thyroid profile?

    You could try another doctor, i would ask full blood count ,ferritin ,glucose and b12/folate.

  • Yes from about six weeks ago when I wasn't feeling as bad as I do now: TSH 1.89 and FT4 17.1, was not given the ranges though but told they were both "normal" results.

    I would try another doctor but I feel like at this point none of them will listen once they see the words "anxiety" in my records. They're too quick to pass things off as a psychological problem and prescribe you pills rather than investigate a possible physical problem because it's more work for them. I would accept it's anxiety/depression if it wasn't for all of the physical symptoms I've been getting even before the anxiety started.

  • Hi, yes, I had psychological symptoms before being diagnosed with Hashimoto's. Apart from physical symptoms I also suffered from anxiety and depression. My GP dismissed these as normal. In the end I had to give up work as I couldn't cope any more.

    After doing a lot of research I concluded that it might be my thyroid, and asked my GP for tests. After doing the most basic tests he told my thyroid was fine, refused me a referral to an Endo. Instead I was prescribed antidepressants and was referred to a psychiatrist.

    The antidepressants just made me feel worse. After doing more research I decided to see a specialist of integrated medicine. He confirmed the diagnosis of hypothyroidism.

    After taking T3 my symptoms including the psychological ones disappeared.

  • Sorry to hear this happened to you, I'm glad you persevered though and are feeling better now. May I ask if the specialist of integrated medicine was an NHS or a private one (I'm guessing private) and how he was able to determine the Hashimoto's diagnosis, did he give you a T3 trial based on your symptoms or did you undergo more comprehensive bloodwork?

  • Yes, he was private. He did free T4, free T3, TSH, TPO and anti thyroglobulin antibodies. TSH, free T4 and free T3 were within the normal ranges but the antibodies were high. At first he prescribed me levothyroxine, but I felt worse on it. He then agreed to prescribe me T3. I felt an immediate difference for the better after the first dose.

    By the way, if blood tests don't show anything, sometimes an ultrasound of the thyroid might.

  • Hi, when I went to see Dr Skinner in Glasgow he asked me if I was seeing thing out of the corner of my eyes and when I turned round , nothing was there and I had to say yes. Hypothyroid symptom me thinks

    Jo xx

  • I always put that down to visual and lighting issues. Amazing.

  • yes i spent 6 years being told it was just depression before i found a fantastic doctor who listened to me and tried me on thyroxine....what a diffence...dont give up ...you may need to see several doctors before you find the one that listens to you x

  • Ask for TSH, FT4, FT3 and Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody TPoAb screens. Hashimotos can show normal TSH & TFT during dormant phase & plunge you into hypothyroidism during active phase. Appropriate medication can prevent damage to the thyroid gland and prolong its life, but in the long term it will shrink until its useless.

    Hypothyroidism is known to masquerade as mental illness and can cause psychotic episodes. Many bipolar sufferers have been cured once appropriate thyroid hormone replacement has begun.

    Ask for ferritin, B12, folate & vitD to be tested too. Results need to be high in range in order to feel well and utilise levothyroxine. NHS will prescribe if below range but you'll need to self supplement if low in range.

  • I was 11 years until diagnosis, that was 27 years ago. You would think things had improved by now wouldn't you. I had terrible depression and just about all the hypothyroid symptoms. At the time I had blood tests and was prescribed Eltroxin and felt normal again after about two weeks. Good luck hope you get sorted soon. x

  • Yep,i was seeing a counsellor at my surgery for depression for sometime and had to see my doc regular to keep an eye on me.I happend to mention that my dad had a thyroid problem and all of a sudden i was taken seriously and was listend to and an appointment was made for a blood test so i tell everyone now if you cant get a blood test for a thyroid problem just say it runs in your family and they will do it,its worked for some friends.

  • I got told for 2 years that I had anxiety at first I believed this as had just had a bad divorce..then I gave up smoking ..started putting weight on ...very tired found work difficult as brain fog ...wasn't eating much so didn't understand the weight gain...doctor sent me for counselling but I couldn't sleep and started getting really ill..hair thinning ..very cold...swollen ankles ..puffy swollen face with dark circles under my eyes. ..doc kept offering anti depressants. ..still does...was diagnosed 6 months ago ...still unwell ...but yes your not alone it's a hard road with thyroid problems. ..you have to fight to get diagnosis and fight even harder to get the right medication ..but people on here will help and get you back on the road to health so stick with it ....take care x

  • Yes, I was told I was suffering from generalised anxiety disorder before any thyroid tests were done. This wasn't even mentioned to me during any appointments and it was only when I had a copy of an entry of my medical report that I queried it.

    The GP I saw then put me on anti-depressants - just because I wanted to know why it was on there!

    I get some OCD-type things. Bits on the bed - absolute bugbear of mine. Boyfriend finds it funny that I make a routine out of sweeping stray dirt/dust off the duvet before I get in each night. Well, I don't want stray bits going on my face, up my nose or in my mouth!

    I also get some hallucinations. One time I woke up during the night and I thought I could see a massive spider on the sleeve of my dressing gown. And when I focussed my gaze on it, it climbed into my side pocket. Next day I checked my pocket - no spider.

    Another time during the night I had another vision of a spider - that time sitting on my pillow near my head, stating at me. And when I lifted my head up to get a better look it had disappeared.

    Not sure if these are thyroid-related.

    I also get very wound up when strangers in the street stare at me or be rude to me. When I anticipate that sort of thing happening parts of my face begin to twitch. I feel like such a nut when I write this. :(

    Jo xxx

  • Yes

    I too have had episodes of depression

    I'm hoping that once my levels normalise I will b able to get off the antidepressants that I have been on for over 8 yrs

    Even now just before I go to sleep I get a racing heart rate & feel like the world will end

    I have vivid weird night mares almost every night

    Hope things get better for you :-)

  • Yes I had the most awful psychological symptoms many if the ones you mention bar the flashing lights. I was very paranoid and used to think people were following me which was very creepy, although I was slightly aware that it might be crazy thoughts. I used to feel I was no longer really me, and I was without substance like a shadow. I sometimes felt like I was some kind of subhuman animal and not worthy of living. I felt socially inept, withdrawn and really stupid. I had a lot of olfactory hallucinations things smelt truly awful and at its worse I would look in the mirror and see a skull looking back at me. I had terrible depression and became suicidal in my thoughts. There was probably a whole lot more too. I had physical symptoms by the bucket load including those mouth ulcers, cramps, heart pains feeling so cold I was frozen all the time. I would nearly pass out with dizziness if I stood up from kneeling and was so hungry I felt like I would pass out or die if I did not eat but no amount of food satiated me and I put on stones of weight. I was hypo then went hyper for a few weeks then hypo for good (TSH over 110 at its zenith) and at this point I was treated with levothyroxine at very low doses because of the heart pains and it took 9 mths to get the levels better. I still don't feel great or quite like I was before I became ill, but a whole lot better than I was and most of the psychological symptoms are much improved. I hope you are soon feeling better and that the above helps in at least letting you know you are not alone and that you can get some very weird psychological disorders, because of the disorder with your thyroid.

  • b12deficiency.info/signs-an... Not wishing to simplify the seriousness of your present condition - however this long list may be worth considering. Low B12 goes hand in hand with thyroid issues as I am sure you are aware from being on this forum. Often we suffer with a combination of issues - diet/gluten being another cause of various conditions. Hopefully this will help just a little....I am using the B12 patches from Amazon and am very happy with them. Also the chewable tablets from Jarrow - Methycobalamin.

  • Thank you for the suggestion and I did not think you were minimising my symptoms at all, the symptoms for thyroid disease and vitamin deficiencies are very similar so any suggestions of what I can get tested for are very helpful and welcome. I think I was tested for iron deficiency anemia and it came back negative. I'm guessing B12 deficiency anemia would not show up on this test as it is a different type of anemia and treated differently? Also, sorry if this is a silly question but can you be B12 deficient and have a lot of the symptoms listed but not be anemic?

  • ...hampster1 on this forum is just so good at advising on B12 etc. May I suggest you search for her on Members on the purple bar and send her a PM and ask the same question. I find her posts so informative.

  • I am wondering how I can bring this up with my GP in a way that will make him take me seriously? I tried before, before my symptoms were as bad as they are presently, and he told me that as my basic thyroid profile was "normal" no further tests can be done and for my physical symptoms like dry skin I should moisturise (!). I have never suffered from dry skin or hair the way it is now but instead of focusing on my symptoms which I've been living with and can recognise better than anyone they just rely on unhelpful, incomprehensive tests. I could see another GP at my local practice but they are all very cliquey and don't like to disagree with each others diagnosis, other patients have complained about this too.

    I want a referral to an NHS endo who will carry out more tests/an ultrasound like another poster suggested but I have little hope of this happening. I can't afford private treatment at the moment so it has to be NHS.

  • London_Lady, what I did was write a letter to my GP and sent a copy of this letter to my practice manager to ensure they got it too.

    Practice managers do deal with letters like this very professionally - my one helped me immensely and when my GP received this letter she did not take my concerns lightly at all. She referred me via Choose and Book - appointment wasn't originally until 4th March. Now I've got it Monday all because I sent an email to the endocrinologist's secretary saying my ongoing symptoms are that much worse, as well as the high TSH, subnormal FT4 and high Anti-TPO antibodies. I've since had my appointment changed to another endo - and from what I've gathered a *better* one. It can't hurt to try.

    Hope this helps.

    Jo xxx

  • Can I ask if your optitian checked the back of your eyes thoroughly as well as doing a sight test as the flashing lights are typical symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment?

  • He said he looked at my retinas and there was nothing of concern but to be honest, the whole eye test was very quick so how thorough it was I don't know. However, I don't think it's PVD, I'm 20 and have no other visual symptoms and it is more the dark spots than flashing lights. Thank you for the suggestion though, you and other posters have been very helpful in helping me figure out what might causing these various symptoms. The visual tricks have been less frequently occurring over the past few days but it freaks me out when it does happen.

  • Hi London Lady

    As you can see many have had similar symptoms - my shakiness, trembling, palpitations etc was put down to 'anxiety' over 10 years ago, I did ask the GP 'why can't it be something physical'? - she gave me betablockers.

    Meanwhile a friend (psych nurse) suggested asking for a referral to a psychologist - who would be more qualified to diagnose than the GP - I didn't, although have noticed some members report they have and then properly diagnosed Hypo/Hyper. It's a different route, just a thought. Anyway my 'anxiety' symptoms mostly disappeared after my PT op.

    As others have said, get thorough TFT tests plus vitamins/minerals - esp B12 & irons which can be causing the dizziness/ulcers, low Vit D affects calcium too - if vits/mins low the Levo won't be working optimally anyway. Best of luck J :D

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