Can stress cause hypothyroidism?

I decided to start therapy again. I had CBT for 18 months 2 years ago after my brother attacked me. Things got much better then a year ago I started feeling chroniaclly fatigued, weak and my anxiety and agoraphobia crept up on me. Then in October my son was being bullied, had panic attacks daily and felt suicidal. My world fell apart and it was during this time my physical symptoms of fatigue and weakness worsened. GP blamed the trauma of seeing my son ill.

I was talking to my new therapist today and she says I have definitely suffered PTSD and it's triggered alot of anxiety. I had a tough childhood, then in later life more anxiety due to my extended family being so toxic and violent. I was always just told I had general anxiety disorder and nothing was explained to me about why I feel like this every day. Now I know. My therapist today said the constant fight or flight/anxiety has a toxic effect on the body and could well have triggered alot of my health issues, especially the chronic fatigue. It's made me think, could it have caused or at least accelerated the thyroid issues? My TSH was 4.9 In January 2013 (range 0.35-5.5 on NHS) and FT4 was 11. Then in August last year my TSH was 5.35 and FT4 10.2. In January this year I went private as my GP kept saying my thyroid was fine. TSH was 6.54 (0.2704.2) and FT4 14.8. March 7.51 FT4 15.8. May TSH 9.28 and FT4 15.7. I am now finally on thyroxine and due a blood test next week.

My mother is hypothyroid, no hashimotos for her or myself. So could stress have maybe caused this? I have been struggling with anxiety and agoraphobia for 4 years, I don't have panic attacks but general anxiety all day. It just made me wonder today. I can't believe how much damage my family have done to my life. It's no wonder I have had to cut them all out of my life as they have damaged myself and my little family so much. Everyone around me all my life told me how toxic they were, I just wish I had listened. Trying not to feel like a victim but when you do therapy it opens up so much you didn't realise had effected you. Wow!

10 Replies

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  • Oh goodness Jingyd35 what a lot has gone on in your life and how it has affected you :(

    Stress/anxiety can affect adrenals, adrenals and thyroid work together. Your stress needs addressing and cutting the troublesome people out of your life is a first step. If your adrenals are affected there are supplements that can help.

    Why not do a Genova 24hour saliva adrenal stress test if it's within your budget (£77 - test code END01), you'd need to order it with Thyroid UK as your 'practioner', details here thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/testin...

  • Thank you. I may do the test but I'm now doing therapy and my thyroid is being medicated. I'm taking supplements and eating a diet to help adrenals.

    I have had a heck of alot of stress. The last 4 years have been awful for me. The initial stress was losing my.nan then 3 months later my brother attacked me. Then my sisters and mother turned their backs on me resenting me for not allowing my brother back in my life. He attacked my husband the year before and I couldn't allow it to keep happening. He has serious mental health issues..since then I suffered the anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. I did therapy for a long time then I became unwell last year and my son then had a year of bullying. It all took its toll on me and I've been very poorly since November. I'm improving though slowly. I'm not as unwell as I was. The illness and my son being ill triggered my anxiety disorder again so after 8 months of battling it and trying to help myself with books I decided to go back to therapy and I'm so glad I have.

    Thank you for your reply.

    Julie

  • When there is more than one family member with thyroid issues there is a possibility of a genetic thyroid condition. I have been researching this: Impaired Sensitivity to Thyroid Hormone (more often known as Thyroid Hormone Resistance). It causes symptoms similar to hypothyroid and requires very high T3 levels in the body to overcome the resistance.

    If there are other family members with fibromyalgia, CFS, ME, Coeliac Disease, MS, Heart Disease, thyroid or depression this would further support this.

    People with this condition rely on their adrenal hormones (including stress hormones) to keep going. Adrenal hormones help us to get through stressful situations, but people with this condition are already maxed on their adrenals and have no remaining capacity and therefore crash.

  • Thank you.

    I definitely crash after any emotional times or anxiety. My anxiety triggers on days I feel unwell and I feel high anxiety all day during my crash.

    My mother has hypothyroidism and depression. My nan had hyperthyroidism and my auntie had hers removed. Apparently noone has hashimotos.

    Thank you.

  • Your family history points very strongly to Thyroid Hormone Resistance. Your mother's symptoms fit with the condition. Your nan and auntie would also have had this condition - it is not uncommon for doctors to misdiagnose it as hyperthyroidism, even though their symptoms would have been of hypothyroidism.

    I will send you a personal message about a book on this.

  • I firmly believe that stress brought mine on. I think I would have probably got eventually as there is some history of it in the family. However after losing my job, stressing over interviews etc..my Grandma passing away and then my brother getting a brain tumour in the space of 6 months I quickly became ill. Symptoms seemed to come on within a month of my brother being diagnosed so I'm positive the stress accelerated the whole thing.

  • I can relate. My son became ill with panic disorder and suicidal thanks for bullies and from then my symptoms rapidly washed over me and I became ill fast my tsh was jumping up every 7 weeks. Being 6.5 in January then 9.28 by may.

    Can I ask did you have your adrenals tested?

    Thank you.

  • I have just had a 24 hour cortisol test done..my morning cortisol is off the chart and the rest of the day at the top of the range.

  • I don't think it matters what the trigger is. It doesn't make it less hypothyroidism as it seems to run in the family. Could have been triggered by bacteria and still it would be hypothyroidism.

    But I understand the need to know. I had the same need until I figured out it doesn't matter. If it wasn't this it was something else triggering it.

    Naturally knowing what the trigger is can help to fix things. But let's say you have suffered PTSD then the stress could have destroyed T3 receptors in your brain meaning you need higher level of T3 to feel well.

    So just reducing stress might not work but of course it helps other functions of your body so it is important.

    About your diet I could say a word or two. Protein is necessary for adrenal glands as well as thyroid function. If you are lacking some quality amino acids it might add the anxiety. This is just a random thought as I don't know if you eat dairy/eggs/fish. If you do, do you eat enough? Proper diet has a big impact during stressful time. If you use up more biochemicals than you build up its hard to gain balance.

    Protein from vegetables might not always satisfy the need of protein.

  • You need to do something about your anxiety and stress levels as unfortunately, they can bring on a variety of diseases. I blame my toxic ex-son-in-law for my breast cancer, and I pray that my daughter will be preserved from any repercussions due to the venom he brought to her and the children.

    You can download a free app which provides relaxing music and ways in which you can meditate. You can do it together with your son.

    Hope you can find the peace of mind you need so much. Nobody should be bullied neither by strangers and even less so by family members. As they say, one is born with family members, but one can choose one's friends.

    Good luck!

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