the emotional cause


Just found this place. Hope you're all well!

I'm a 40 yr male, uh oh, diagnosed hypothyroid at age 23. Later, my Mum was diagnosed too, at that more typical age though, roughly speaking. She's c80mg I think, I'm a 175mg kind of guy. That is, barely functioning without ma peels after a few days, which I'm rubbish at remembering, maybe getting a bit better now, after 17 years.

I glimpsed a few mentions of Chernobyl on my way here - must say that was a new one to me.

However, I thought to share what has become over time my understanding of my thyroid gland's condition.

A mon avis, one has to understands one's health in as overall a fashion as possible and sometimes no amount of looking under the bonnet will do it, if the reason you're not moving (this is a car analogy) is due to congested traffic.

I believe that the eventual failure of my thyroid gland as I struck out into life as an adult (big kid) was the result of what are essentially long standing emotional 'issues', of the repressed/disconnected sort. In my own case the result of a well meaning loving family, completely unconscious, with reasonably significant emotional trauma running underneath it, the results appearing in the adult child eventually in the form of co-dependency traits, addiction issues, etc etc. Through no malice whatsoever by a well meaning but wounded family, psychologically, my sense of Self was so foreign all sense of well being had to come from external sources. The blocked emotions that should have been let out my throat eventually built in my stomach giving appendicitis aged 8, a history of throat infections in teenage years and finally the white flag from the thyroid gland in my early 20s.

That middle-aged females are the main group prone to this condition is no surprise to me. In our patriarchal society you guys get a raw deal, have done for a couple of millenia at least. If there's a group prone to repressing emotions it's women. That there's an average age when thyroids most commonly pack-in ... depends on the personal struggle. One may be completely unaware of the possible framing of one's life in such terms. ..

So to sum up - it's to do with healthy expression, or it's opposite, of one's Self in the most general terms, and just how much unconscious compromise from the optimal norm we're forced to make by our environments, in early years and beyond. No coincidence that we're talking about an area of the body where we speak from, and should express ourselves meaningfully.

My GP didn't tell me this, you'll have gathered by now. Would be interested to know if anyone else has also strayed off the provided path in thinking about the possible causes?

all the best just now

42 Replies

  • Yes i have and i am a 44 y/o male and became ill aged 21. After a year of going to the docs most months i was told i had depression. I lived a repressed life for the next 16 years. I was ill constantly, but i felt a little better about it all thanks to the antidepressant tablet i took daily.

    Then in my 30's i discovered i had a low sperm count and started to do some research. I stumbled on the thyroid connection and i never looked back. I stopped the antidepressant and slowly over time i got better. I am now running pretty much in top shape. I have down moments, but generally i am doing well.

    So for many yrs i was told i had depression, but i couldn't understand why i had this condition. Life was not too bad. All i know now is that hormones affect how we feel. I think the psychology and psychiatric industries are a con. Huge amounts of money are being made out of emotional / brain chemistry problems. I see these problems stem from hormonal issues, not brain chemistry ones.

    I say this because i have seen in myself being totally calm and rational and then very quickly (in a day) i can become anxious, low functioning, angry etc etc.

    The topic you have started is a big area and i am sure emotional issues do come into the equation, but not nearly as much as the world believes. We all have to deal with stress and life issues, but some people have stronger hormonal systems than others and so cope better.

  • I totally agree with you that there is a connection between emotions and hormones, marsaday, but I believe it's the other way roung : off kilter hormones - either too much or too little - can cause depression, mood swings, etc. And most hormones can have that effect, not just thyroid hormones. Besides, when one hormone is unbalanced, it has an effect on them all, you can't really seperate one from the other.

    However, I do not believe that being depressed can cause thyroid problems. Being traumatised long-term - as in child abuse, or abuse in your couple as an adult - is well-known for causing thyroid problems. But just being depressed, or confused, no, I Don't think so.

    If your life was pretty good, but you were still diagnosed as depressed, then I think your thyroid was failing for much longer than you realise.

  • "Being traumatised long-term - as in child abuse, or abuse in your couple as an adult - is well-known for causing thyroid problems." I'm interested in this - can you point towards anything please or elaborate? thanks

  • Sorry, Don't have any links to give you, lost them all when my computer crashed. But it's something I've read over and over again - and seen for myself amongst the people I frequent. You get to know someone and they say they have a 'thyroid problem', and little by little it comes out that they were abused as a child, in one way or another. Or knocked about by their husband for years.

    I hasten to add that that is not my case. I have Hashi's, and many, many members of my family probably had it - they were visibly hypo, anyway. I can look back through several générations of family photos and see it everywhere. So, mine is undoubtedly hereditary.

  • yes but - just cos it's present throughout your family doesn't mean necessarily it's genetic . Very very roughly speaking, parents are the main cause I'd suggest, and their parents, and theirs...and so it goes

  • Sorry, not with you, there. Why are parents the main cause? Main cause of what? And if it's not genetic, why have we all got it? We do know that Hashi's can be genetic.

  • On BBC Radio 4 this morning: "Unhappy Child, Unhealthy Adult" --

    We already know that unhappy experiences in childhood are more likely to lead to mental health issues in later life.

    What's becoming clear, however, is that chronic stress and anxiety during this time can trigger dramatic changes in the body which contribute to our risk of developing diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke. Chronic stress in childhood is also associated with a shortened life span.

    Health-harming behaviours which contribute to disease risk, like smoking, drinking alcohol and drug use, are more common among those who have endured traumatic experiences in childhood.

    But scientists are now revealing that these stressful childhood experiences have a direct impact on our physical health, through their impact on the developing brain and the immune system.

    The question now is how to use this knowledge to improve the nation's health. Should health professionals routinely ask patients about traumatic events in their childhoods? And if so, who should broach the subject, where and when?

    Geoff Watts visits a GP practice which is about to trial this novel idea, and looks at the growing body of evidence revealing how adverse childhood experiences contribute to poor health and shorter lives.

  • thanks for posting

  • I read about that too, and as I was abused as a child, I think that's how my hashi started. I wanted to die :-(

  • sorry but its wrong to claim emotional factors in developing thyroid disease

    its without doubt an inherited predisposition which is triggered by a combination of infection, environmental factors that your particular genotype is vulnerable too

    often a parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle has diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis or lupus or coeliac or any one of the auto immune diseases and you have aquired thyroid problems as a result

  • There is quite a bit of evidence that stress is a significant element in the development of thyroid issues in at least some people. The stress levels in a family due to emotional issues can be very high.

    In my view, to flatly deny that emotions impact thyroid disorders is very questionable.

  • Emotional issues in the family causing you stress, is not quite the same as having emotional issues yourself. If you see what I mean. In that case, other people's emotional issues would be the indirect cause and the stree the direct cause. I Don't believe having emtional issues themselves - depression, confusion - would cause someone to develope thyroid problems. Sorry to nit-pick. lol ;)

  • indeed indeed

  • I agree that emotional factors do play a part in one's thyroid function. Look at emotional stress, and how that affects your adrenal glands! As far as I know, if you have a thyroid issue, you have an adrenal issue.... In combination with other possible undiagnosed food allergies; am gluten, egg, dairy (goat and sheep ok for me) and preservative free at this point; and environmental toxins, etc..., it's no wonder so many of us have thyroid issues. Sadly, many of us are prescribed T4 only synthetic meds, I did well on them for years and have tried them all, but suffer from depression because they do not contain the needed T3 hormone. I am digging my way out of that hole right now on dedicated thyroid meds that contain both T4 and T3, like WP Thyroid the best and dose incrementally throughout the day along with adrenal glandulars, and my 'emotional' state is improving. I also find daily exercise a plus. :) Thanks for the post to open up this discussion.

  • Hi,

    Interesting. Yes I too had a very traumatic childhood and suppressed emotions. Ran away from everything and went wild for a bit. I then in my 20's had a breakdown once I couldn't run anymore. Since then I've had thyroid issues. So interesting thought.

    I don't agree with reallyfedup 123 that is hereditary as I'm the only one in my family with thyroid issues. No diabetes, lupus etc...

    I had to use copious amounts of iodine to treat a horses hoof for months on end and stupidly I didn't wear gloves do I think there is a link there.

    Welcome anyway. Kate

  • I agree with you about the iodine link, Kate!

    But thyroid problems can very well be hereditary, just not always.

    One rarely finds out with any certainty what causes the thyroid to go wrong - could be Hashi's, but what caused the Hashi's? There are so many possible causes that it's all just guess work, really. Excess iodine is certainly one of them. So is long-term childhood trauma.

    But I've never heard of 'suppressed emotions' being cited as a cause. Except by Oprah and her doctors! But, then again, she claims to have cured her thyroid problems with great quantities of soy! Which is plainly rediculous.

    More likely that the failing gland caused the upset emotions. And I do find the idea of suppressing emotions causing it rather silly. The thyroid gland is in the neck, but not in the throat. And, to be honest, nobody could have expressed their emotions more dramatically than I! All through my life. I've never suppressed anything. My nickname was Drame Queen! And yet, I'm 99.9% certain that I've had thyroid problems since I was a small child.

  • i didn't mean to infer it had anything to do with volume, more the connectedness with your Self or perhaps the lack of connection. It would tally that acting out out as a child and so earning the title Drama Queen is a very clear example of not being known for who you really were. That your thyroid would suffer in such circumstances is plausible I'd say.

  • Nooooooo I didn't say 'acting out'. I said expressing myself. Letting everyone know exactly what I think. Not the same thing, I Don't think. Because I've always known what I think. I've always had very firm ideas and opinions. I did not have temper tantrums. I was always logical in my thinking - and I see the same thing in all my grandchildren - who all take after me, of course! lol

    Even so, I cannot see how not knowing who you are would have any effect on a gland. I just can't see how that would happen. Where is the connection?

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'volume'.

  • Hahaha yes I express emotions rather well too on occasion :)

    I can see how trauma could cause thyroid issues but no not suppressed emotions.

    As for Oprah...

    I thought excess soy caused thyroid problems as well as fertility problems unless it's fermented!

    Stupid woman, yes a ridiculous statement.

  • Yes, indeed, soy does cause problems with the thyroid! Nasty stuff all round. But, you can't really blame her, she was listening to the wrong people. We're not supposed to know instinctively about this stuff, we're supposed to be able to rely on doctors to help us. But, as we can't, a lot of charlatans take advantage. It's just a pity she was such a prominant person. She could have done so much good if she'd Fallen into the right hands.

  • Very true!

  • wisdom of following Oprah for your health advice is debatable indeed, however I would take issue with your assertion of helplessness without the presence of's precisely this dissociation with our own health responsibilities that '1st' world folks have gotten so out of touch, I'd say. Which is different to saying 'just sort yourself out' or such, which of course I'm not, just a bigger point worth making generally i think

  • That's not what I said at all. I think you ought to reread it carefully before making a comment.

    I would certainly never follow Oprah for health advice - which is what I was saying. And I didn't say anything about helplessness. What a rediculous idea!!!

  • I believe it can be a mix of reasons and there are many different causes for different people. I may have mentioned before I was diagnosed Hypothyroid (after many years of untreated depression and mental problems plus all the awful physical symptoms). There was no internet then so I made my way to the library. The only books available had been written in the 1930's 40's but were very useful. I keep meaning to see if I can find them again!

    The medical profession then believed that hypothyroidism could be triggered by mental or emotional trauma ( but views were beginning to change). The Drs were masters at diagnosing patients by looking and listening to THEM rather than looking at a computer screen. I believe everyone was treated using pigs thyroxin rather than the human-made tablets we take today. The photos in these books showed fantastic physical changes and reported excellent results. I do think we have moved forward so quickly in some respects, but we may have lost important knowledge along the way.

    I have never believed it is solely hereditary, although as with all disease there is often a link. I live in a rural area and many of my more distant relations live in the same area as myself and none have ever had any form of autoimmune disease and it is unknown in my immediate family, five siblings. Same with breast cancer and I got that as well. Just been told I have osteoporosis caused by the drugs (letrozole) I have been taking for the breast cancer......bugger!

    Just to let you all know it is possible to feel well with hypothyroidism, I am feeling really well and happy at the moment. Plan to fight the osteoporosis with exercise and diet as well as ditching the letrozole. I do not want to take Bisphosphonates ...horrible things!!

    Good health to you all.

  • much wisdom, good health back to you

  • A do believe emotional issues are part of the equation, but if they thyroid has gone wrong because of stress or just genetic reasons, why treat it with antidepressants or counselling ? This is what we do currently, except thyroid issues are not mentioned.

    For me it was thyroid because the basic hormones actually helped. The antidepressants did nothing for my bloated stomach, face, tiredness, discomfort generally.

    I too had a stressful time growing up and i had counselling when i became ill. This was very useful too, but i was ill with all the same symptoms for 16 odd years. Only when i took thyroid meds did they improve.

    Hormonal activity is strongly linked to brain function (the brain senses when hormones are low and so sends out messages to the endocrine system to make more of them). So it must follow stressful factors will influence this system. I have no problem with that. But how many people actually get better from depression / anxiety etc using the psych drugs or counselling. Some will, but i think more do not. This is where hormones need to be turned to.

  • aye, but if your thyroid isn't working properly this would show on a blood test? So no problem to tell if the thyroid function is indeed connected to the symptoms you fee,l probably. Am I naive or missing something perhaps? A flip side would be depression etc as a result of undiagnosed symptoms stemming from your hypo/hyper thyroid...but again, blood tests should rule in or out the thyroid's involvement ?

    Re getting better from depression etc... using pills, ... not alone, no one will - the pills will give a person a breathing space to feel less distress for a while at best, a sticking plaster. Therapy, yes, possibly essential...but then there are therapists and therapists...a minefield of incompetency often, I have to say, at exorbitant prices. But that is the area - truly understanding your story in great detail, getting beyond the fixed thinking patterns that have existed to date as a result of your programming.

    (a musician's perspective - disclaimer, but one who has been through the mill sufficiently to at least share perspectives)

  • An active group with switched on comments - is good to find.

    the thyroid gland is never going to operate in isolation of course but in with every other facet of our life... to find the 'cause', I suppose, is a hopelessly optimistic question, one that will change with every person's individual life. Anecdotally however, we might well be able to discern patterns of experiences / circumstances / environments that gave rise to these problems and I for one would be interested to read.

  • Excellent summation of my thoughts as I lap up all in this thought-provoking thread.

    Chicken, egg, cause, effect, who can say with certainty the degree of one influencing factor over one of a half-dozen others when it comes to our Self - physio, psycho, bio.

    We are all the sums of our many parts - as much the same as they are different and much influenced by external factors / variables beyond our control.

    My thyroid appeared to be on the fritz after two years of taking pharma poisons to suppress my immune system after the sudden onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis. And this coincided with the onset of menopause. And both happened against a backdrop of major change - new country, new crazy boss, loss of partner to cancer. My emotions were shredded.

    What triggered what when and why? Who can say for sure?

    My view after battling all back to relative good form - mind over matter features too - is that it is impossible to ignore the one certainty: we are the sum of all our parts, our context, our experiences, our attitudes and, yes, our programming.

  • michty me, that's a fair list of woes. you win.

    thanks for the validating comments

    and sincere condolences for your loss.

    you'll learn a ton through all this I'll guess, wanted or not

    death being only the opposite of birth, one need not confuse life too much with our travails, it continues with a change of form, rather like the extinguishing of the flame of a match, as thich nhat hahn beautifully teaches, this much I'm starting to appreciate and offer as a perhaps clumsy and intrusive but well intentioned sentiment.

    back to the mundanity of thyroid's worth pointing out perhaps how incredibly different I felt (positively) initially after about 3 weeks of taking the synthetic medication. If you're own is indeed fried, there's help in that regard. best wishes

  • Ta for the condolences but It was truly the larger, holistic point I was making. And the guesswork that, I think, is the companion to many so-called certainties in the realms of mind / body health and well-being.

    I've had such an easy time of it compared to so many. I was only using my story to illustrate how integrated all is.. certainly didn't mean to have it read as a list of woes worthy of some sort of victory.

    Check out my previous posts - I've been taking all the supplements recommended by the knowledgeable folk here and feeling better for it. Also did a trial of NDT so all's in hand thanks. Best wishes to you too.

  • You must be new to the thyroid world because it is well know the big issue IS with the blood tests. This is the reason why so many people are now being treated for depression. You must remember M.E. or yuppie flu getting headline in the 1980's.

    The way of assessing thyroid function used to be done on symptoms, high cholesterol, body temp. A patient was given thyroid meds until symptoms went. Then they developed the TSH test in the 70's (not sure of the date) and ever since then the incidence of depression has jumped and new illnesses started to be identified (M.E being one of them).

    The issue out there today is the faulty TSH test. Even the inventor of the test said it had its limitations.

    So even though you may have blood results within the ranges this doesn't mean you don't have hypoT or instead you have mental health problems.

    We are now in the 2010's. The TSH range in the UK is 0.4-4. However it used to be not so long ago up to 10. Certainly in the 1990's and the 2000's this was the range doctors worked to. So are you telling me if your TSH was 8 in 1995 you didn't have a thyroid issue, but in 2016 you do ? By your logic this must follow.

    In germany and Japan the TSH maximum is 2.5, so they will look to treat patients much earlier in the development of thyroid issues starting.

    Do you take antidepressants then or do you take any thyroid meds ? What are your blood test results like ?

  • I'm new to the thyroid discussion world, so to speak. Have taken levothyroxine 175 for about 17 years, a year out of date with my checks, must get them done I suppose... depressed, well, that's a whole kettle of fish to be got into, but lets say the 2 decades of adult life have been colourfully chaotic, usually not in a good way. I know nothing really of what you went through in that last post...shall re-read now

  • Ok so your are on 175 T4, but you are not fully balanced ? Correct ? This is very common and i think if you were to tweak the hormones (rather than the emotions) you would get better results.

    Do you have any blood tests results. Where is your FT4 for instance. Do you know your FT3 level ? From these we can work out if you have conversion issues or pooling issues with the T3. If pooling then you need to look at adrenal function to understand where cortisol fits with all this. Progesterone for men is very beneficial and can improve mood due to its impact on T3 absorption. There is so much to look into, but once you start looking you tend to find some more answers.

  • Totally agree.

  • with what ? :)

  • Sorry! That illness often has emotional roots esp thyroid disease. In ayuverdic medicine, the throat chakra (located exactly at the thyroid at the throat) represents expression and thyroid disease is considered the result of suppression of self expression.

  • reading that is a helluva affirming thing for a tues lunchtime

  • "That middle-aged females are the main group prone to this condition is no surprise to me. In our patriarchal society you guys get a raw deal, have done for a couple of millenia at least. If there's a group prone to repressing emotions it's women. That there's an average age when thyroids most commonly pack-in ... depends on the personal struggle. One may be completely unaware of the possible framing of one's life in such terms. .. "

    Actually our emotions aren't repressed - they're just misconstrued as "depressed", "neurotic", "needy", "fragile" etc, etc.

    Also, is there any person alive that has managed to get to adulthood without any kind of emotional scarring/trauma?

    What is the average age for the thyroid to pack in? Mine was post-natal dependant. That is an age in theory from 11 - 50 years old.

    I see where you're coming from but for me thinking about the possible causes (outside of optimal meds/supplements/good gut) would be counterproductive as you can't change your past.

  • aye, not trying to change the past - I came here as a side step from psychological pursuits ...where understanding your past is critical to understanding your present, as we know. And of course there isn't a neat cut off between mind and body... I think perhaps taking the thyroid function as a starting place one might be able to learn quite a bit abut one's wider life experience...? Depends on line of enquiry however I suppse

  • Just be careful. I've known good friends to become seriously ill, mentally when unscrupulous and inexperienced counsellors/pyschoanalysts opened cans of worms that weren't ready for opening yet.

    H x

  • thank you, you're wise. I've been trying to round up the worms back into the can for some time, there's aye 1 that wriggles out . all the best

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