Can having Hypothyroidism make you a hypochondriac?

Hi,

My mum has never been the most supportive or maternal woman in the world, but today she said that I am a hypochondriac because I still have some symptoms and my most recent test results came back as normal. My doctor has done lots of tests for my bones, diabetes, kidneys, liver etc.... and all have come back fine apart from my iron being a little low.

Could my worrying about my hypothyroidism be making my imagine that I still have fatigue, depression, pains, etc? Also, if I was a hypochondriac would I know it?

I feel a bit confused. I do go on about my health quite a lot but I think that's because I don't have any support from anyone - I'm not close to my dad either and don't have any family apart from my mum. Also, my friends and I have drifted apart as I am a working mum now so mostly stay at home at night and they are all paired off so we aren't really compatible anymore.

Maybe I am just imagining all the remaining symptoms because of everything else. I did suffer from some hallucinations when I was a teenager so it is not unreasonable that I might be irrational now.

Oh, by the way - I've been referred to a ADHD specialist by a psychiatrist which really annoyed my mum and set her off on a rant. To be honest I'm not at all convinced about the ADHD thing, you can't diagnose it with a blood test or a brain scan etc. Also, I was very quiet at school and did well academically, and aside from some minor quirks in my personality I was not at all disruptive to anyone.

20 Replies

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  • My dear girl,

    What is probably wrong with you is not hypochondria (that's why it's useful

    to put all your story on this forum) because we know that it isn't. When we still have clinical symptoms due to our doctors most probably underdosing us by keeping our TSH within range we still have remaining clinical symptoms.

    Our bodies need T3 the active hormone, we get prescribed T4 (levothyroxine) which should convert to sufficient T3 but doesn't always so we cannot function normally.

    The first thing you should do, is get a new blood test for your thyroid gland. If you haven't had a recent one make an appointment and have it as early as possible, not having taken your medication until after it as it can skew the results. Always take levothyroxine first thing with a glass of water and don't eat for approx 1 hour as food can interfere with the uptake. Take supplements or other medication 4 hours apart from levothyroxine.

    Also ask GP to do Vitamin B12, Vit D, iron, ferritin and folate as we are usually deficient. Get a copy of your tests with the ranges (these are important as labs differ). Post them on a new question and members will comment.

    I doubt you have ADHD, probably not enough T3. Doctors/Endocrinologists are not always the best to treat us. If we have remaining clinical symptoms they are apt to prescribe a medication for that, rather than a proper dose of thyroid hormones.

    We can sort ourselves out but we have to read and learn rather a lot. Most, I think, know more than most GPs.

    Don't worry about your mother, she is probably anxious at you having another medical 'word' added to your already many clinical symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  • You could start by reading this :

    thyroid.about.com/b/2013/04...

  • Thanks for this article. I also saw the link on the page for hair loss so may post it later as that question comes up often.

  • It also comes up a lot when people ask about weight loss. And I keep saying, you won't lose weight if your T3 is too low. Handy link to have.

  • Fyfee, 'Normal' bloods aren't necessarily optimal for you. When you are able to post your recent results members will advise whether you are optimally dosed. It's also important to have ferritin, vitaminD, B12 and folate good in range.

    Many people continue to feel fatigue, depression and pain when bloods are 'normal'. It can mean they need a higher dose than their GP considers necessary, they aren't converting T4 to T3 sufficiently, Levothyroxine doesn't suit them or their vits and mins are out of whack. Sometimes dietary change like cutting out gluten, dairy and sugar helps but even so, some people never feel completely well and have to settle for 80% when they've addressed underlying issues.

    It's unkind of your mother to accuse you of being hypochondriac but it is difficult for family and friends to listen to the same complaints over and over. I found it very frustrating that I couldn't *fix* my aunt's considerable health problems and although I tried to be supportive I know I was impatient with her at times and at others felt she might make more effort to cope, even though I knew she was very ill.

  • I was hyper with Graves Disease but if it is any consolation to you i was made to feel like a real hypochondriac. I was diagnosed in November 2012 and when I went to the doctor in the August I came out and said to my husband that the doctor obviously thought I was a complete nutter. She looked at me suspiciously then said I needed a holiday.

    By the time I went back again in November after I had nearly killed myself in my car I was so exhausted I slept all the time, was a total wreck with a pounding heart that kept me awake. I saw the doctor one day, had a blood test the next and got a phone call from my doctor the day after that. My TSH was unrecordable, my T4 was off the scale and I had antibodies.

    I have this theory that if your doctor thinks you are a hypochondriac then maybe it's time they checked out your thyroid. SO many people with thyroid problems are made to feel like that and even though your results are 'within the range' or 'fine' or 'normal' - like someone said they might not be normal for your body.

    You couldn't be overactive could you? That would certainly make you a bit jumpy which might make them think you have ADHD? Years ago I was checked out in case I was underactive and when the results came back my doctor said she was surprised because in actual fact I was borderline hyperactive. Unfortunately I ought to have followed that up but didn't.

  • I agree totally with the the comments.

    Being hypo (Im surgically so) is like someone tying a weight to you, the only release is finding the right dose, the right meds and the right Endo.

    I still haven't found all three, but with research ,I've made the first two on my own (and with Health Unlocked)

    Never let anyone tell you what suits them, if you're not right ,you know it.

    I've been through it all, fibromyalgia, vit D deficiency, calcium deficiency, hypo, joint pain you name it. I've found once you've even got to a consultant, its vague at the best due to the nature of the symptoms. I had really bad rib pain, especially on my left. I ended up at a rheumatologists and she said 'it'd probably just have to live with it' Luckily, the change to NDT has improved thing a lot, it still hurts but not half as much as before .If I'd not taken control. of thing, I'd probably be a lot worst by now following the medics advice :(

    Keep you chin up and keep looking for that finish line. :)

  • Hey Fyffee :)

    I think it's an extremely difficult illness for others to understand and be compassionate about. I remember my best friend saying to me one day "well I know other people that take thyroxine and don't have all the problems you have". You could of cut me with a knife.

    Because there isn't a cure as such, we fluctuate, therefore so do our symptoms and how we feel. I'm 5 years on in my journey and, although much much better than I was initially, have the odd times where I still feel a bit poorly. However I think in the beginning I attributed absolutely everything to my hypothyroidism and maybe, just maybe there were times it wasn't related. I became quite hyper sensitive to my symptoms and the more I focused on them (trying to understand everything I guess) the more I felt ill and, in turn, the more I talked about it. I can see how someone outside looking in could quite easily come to a hypochondriac conclusion. There was a definite turning point for me feeling better, once I had accepted my diagnosis and tried not to think about it 24/7.

    Forums like this are great, as we can truly relate to what you are going through and feel. If it's any consolation my mum isn't very understanding either and so I've just learnt not to really talk to her about it, as I can't handle the criticism and judgement.

    Hang in there :)

  • Think we are all singing from the same hymn sheet! It's a common concept thrown at is from all sides and I don't think most are being unkind but they are at a loss to understand what it feels like and saying such things they probably hope it will kick start some improvement! Your mum probably feels worse as she has t a clue either and she should be the one caring for you but she doesn't know how to help. Shaws advice is spot on and I'm sure when you post your next blood results and ranges you will get lots of advice of what to do next. Some people do sail through with no problems, some think they have and put lingering symptoms down to age etc but many need different levels of tweeking! That's the beauty of this site-advice from others who have already been there, understand and have ideas on how to move forward. We are all different so what works for one may not be right for another so patience is needed. Posting your next set of bloods is the first step.

  • Dear Fyffee,

    You're not alone. Everyone in my entire dysfunctional family, including me, thought my mother was a hypochondriac, even as her health did indeed deteriorate in different ways. She got asthma and chronic tonsillitis as an adult, is severely obese (with all the complications that come with that), has polycystic ovaries, had to have a hysterectomy, had blood clots to her legs and lung, and I now recognise she's been battling major depression (with fatigue, low energy levels, mood swings etc) for years. And as her daughter, I have been estranged from her (by my choice) for the past 7 years in a bid to protect my own emotional well-being. She wasn't a very supportive or 'maternal' mother either. But now, I think I know why.

    In my bid to not be like her, I'm in the process of getting 'fully' tested myself now, having found an endocrinologist who accepted my self referral. My results are not in yet, but already when I even try to talk about any of this with my aunt (my mother's sister), despite her own myriad of health problems (different from her sister, but all known to be related to hypothyroidism), she insinuates that I'm chasing rainbows. She thinks Mum's problems are all related to her weight and her poor self esteem, and her own are from living a stressful life in her younger years and now coming up to menopause. It's so frustrating, and I feel for my mother now. A multitude of trips to different doctors again and again and again over the years, and only ever being treated for the steadily increasing list of related conditions, never the cause. Never being believed that she couldn't lose weight, her fatigue, her low energy levels. Thinking her own head space, depression, anxiety, angry outbursts and mood swings were her own special brand of 'normal' and never even telling the doctor about them.

    So anyway, I wanted to share this link with you that I only just read today: hypothyroidmom.com/autoimmu...

    I'm wondering if diagnosis and informed successful treatment for me will eventually give me the emotional strength and conviction to reach out to my mother... I don't know. Not that I'm saying the same to you, but again just to say, you're not alone.

  • I read about your mother's female problems and this is a link and you will see it is one of the clinical symptoms of hypo. PCOS can also be helped by thyroid hormones. This is an excerpt as I don't have the link. These are just for your information:

    The researchers cautioned clinicians: "To avoid inadvertent surgery to remove an ovarian tumor, it is essential that a patient with multiple ovarian cysts and hypothyroidism

    be properly managed, as the simple replacement of a thyroid hormone could resolve the ovarian cysts."

    web.archive.org/web/2010103...

  • Many people labeled my mother a Hypocondriac for years (she was never diagnosed with anything!) and on speaking to her GP weeks before she died at age 58 he also told me in a guarded fashion that it was all in her head .

    Here I am aged 42 with all her same symptoms only I have been diagnosed with Hypothyroid, osteoporosis , Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity no one will treat my iron and B13 deficiency (another thing mum was tested fir many times and fobbed off for )

    Every day I wish my mum was here so I could frog march her to the Doctor armed with all the info we have here.

    My family now realise she wasn't a Hypocondriac because I gave been though the same. It is a hidden illness that people just can't see.

    When my mum died we found literally bin bags of Prozac that she hadn't taken because she knew the depression was caused by untreated illness not by her mind.

    Hang in there xx

  • You're not a hypochondriac and the fact that you are considering it to be a truth (irrespective of who said it to you) says to me that you are not well, i found my confidence and self esteem were right down there with my low t4 so I figure you probably would benefit from a bit more levo, get your iron levels increased by supplementing and get your b12 checked, they all can cause similar symptoms.

    I am lucky in a sense that my family is very supportive but they all saw my grandma struggle with hypo every day. But i have friends that just don't understand, the easiest i found to do, is not to speak to them about it and find someone who will listen and gets it. That includes this forum here you can always vent, ask for advice, get sympathy and get understood.

  • The MOST common symptom of hypothyroid patients is that their GP thinks they're a hypochondriac!

    That's regardless of whether they're undiagnosed, or not responding fully to treatment.

    Stay strong. Fight your case!

  • My Grandad was put into an Asylum. He was fine after they took out his thyroid and put him on the pig replacement.

  • I'm made to feel like a hypochondriac some days. I wrote a letter to my gp last year and when I re read it this year I realised nothing has changed. My gp refuses to test anything other than tsh. I feel tired all the time. My arms and legs ache,my eyes go blurry and refuse to focus and I can't keep awake at tea time. I have polycystic ovaries and my weight is the heaviest I ve ever been. My mum does comment about my weight but recently I was on 1600 calories a day and still gaining! I have now decided to go private and see an endo. Hopefully they'll prove that my meds arent right. I ve been taking my temperature too and it's usually between 35.9 and 36.3 so this tells me it's not in my head and I am undermedicated. Don't let you anybody make you feel like a hypochondriac, push to see a good endo. I got a list off here. There's also pages on Facebook that ll make you realise you aren't alone with how you feel. There's also a letter to your family that you can get from Mary Shomons page. That may help them understand. Take care.

  • Many of us on this forum get the same reaction from our nearest and dearest, Fyffee. When you feel tired all the time (as we mostly do) it doesn't enable one to be the life and soul of the party any more. I'm not optimally medicated, but I function - so long as I don't arrange two events on successive days. By event I mean even something as low key as visiting friends. My last trip to the theatre (including awful drive to and from) cost me two days of numb-brain and general feebleness. It's a juggling act. People can be really hurtful. I have lost most of my friends over thyroidism - I just haven't got the energy to argue my case. The hurtful things people say ... The doctors are among the most eager to tell one it is all in one's mind. It can get very depressing, I really sympathise with your plight - being a working mum must really drain you.

    Your blood tests may well come back showing 'normal' , but that doesn't mean you are well. If you post those most recent test results of yours on the forum people may be able to interpret them - which might help you get the help you need from the NHS.

  • Hi everyone, I can't believe how many replies I've got here. Thanks for the support and advice. I am in the process of getting my medical history but am not sure how long that should take. When I get it I will post the blood results on here.

    I'm thinking of changing my doctor surgery as well.

    Thanks.

  • My son used to do that till I asked him when and where he got his medical degree....

  • When you have this "invisible" hypothyroid illness, it can be easy to get bogged down by every little ache and twinge that you feel. It is something that I know I have done, and I have also been given the cold shoulder by some of my family. I don't "look" ill (well actually, I do, but unless something drops off or changes colour, I am seen as being fine).

    However, I did see my GP and probably made quite a nuisance of myself. I was often told I had "normal" blood test results but, together with continuing symptoms and my ever-patient husband accompanying me to all my appointments to add credence to what I was saying, more investigations have been made. I'm not pleased that I have more "proper" diagnoses, but I am very happy that I have been proved right, and I have had to be referred on. It makes me angry that some people, particularly doctors, can be so dismissive of problems we have. I accept that some of the symptoms people have can be stress-related (probably because we feel ill, and are ignored by the medical profession?!), but that doesn't mean that a doctor or family member should be so quick to dismiss them.

    I try not to moan too much about how I feel to friends and family, but this forum is a safe place to let off steam and most of us are in the same boat.

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