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Thyroid UK
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Can't process stress since thyroidectomy

When stressful situations arise in my life (just basic things like having to do extra things out my routine ie extra work etc), mentally I can be OK and rational, but since my thyroidectomy, physically it's like I can't process stress. I get insomnia and heart palpitations and feel all jittery. It can take me a good week to feel 'normal' again because I am so exhausted.

I'm just wondering what other people's thoughts are on this?


10 Replies

Hi ever since I had Rai I haven't been able to go back to work as can't stand the stress. My memory just not what it used to be as well have even had it checked at memory clinic and according to them it's fine.and I have to pace myself if I do too much in a day then am really fatigued the next day, I put it down to you only have so much t3 from your meds and when that's depleted your body just can't make more like it would if your thyroid worked properly.


I took on a job 2 days a week thinking it would be no problem. It was physically demanding and I felt so ill and tired I was crying at the end of the day. I struggled through 1 more day and had to quit. I found myself being very self critical instead of just accepting that I'm going to need a different type of job... back to the drawing board!


Have you given yourself enough time to recover fully? We live in such a fast paced world we press buttons and expect things to happen but unfortunately our bodies aren't programmed on fast response it needs time to heal itself and recover extremely frustrating but true!!

Best wishes x



I'm also unable to handle stress comfortably since my thyroidectomy and avoid stressful situations because I find them exhausting.

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Lack of thyroid hormones, particularly T3 the active hormone, means the body has to compensate for it somehow, and it does so by producing cortisol and adrenaline. Since these are the hormones that the body produces in cases of "fight or flight" you perceive the higher levels as stress (not surprisingly). You might be able to adapt to normal levels of stress for you when thyroid hormones are low, but extra stress, however minor, is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

One problem with the body learning to adapt is that it usually adapts by changing (increasing) the levels of cortisol permanently. So permanent anxiety and feelings of stress and fear are common, and any extra stress is intolerable.

The only way out of this situation is to make sure that you have sufficient levels of thyroid hormones, and that any Levo (T4) that you take is adequately converted to T3, and make sure that the vital nutrients are kept optimal.

Then, if you are lucky, increasing thyroid hormone levels will reduce cortisol and adrenaline naturally.

If you are unlucky your cortisol and adrenaline might not reduce, and as a result you end up unable to raise thyroid hormones high enough because of it.

In that last situation you have to take supplements that reduce cortisol and adrenaline, then raise your thyroid hormone levels, then try to keep things stable long enough so that your body adapts to the new equilibrium. Then you might be able to stop supplementing to reduce cortisol and levels will stay where you want them.

I've explained the situation (as I understand it) for high levels of cortisol. Some people cannot produce high levels of cortisol for very long and their cortisol levels drop and become too low. In that case it is necessary to take supplements to raise cortisol before the body can cope with the optimal level of thyroid hormones.

Living with the wrong levels of cortisol, adrenaline and thyroid hormones can quickly reduce people to physical and mental collapse. And it can take weeks or months to get back on an even keel.

I have high cortisol. I can't tolerate T4 in any form, so I take T3 only. I couldn't take enough T3 to feel well and had to supplement to reduce my cortisol. Since doing so I have been able to nearly double the T3 I take and now I feel much better than I did.

Please note that I'm not medically trained. I've written the above based on personal experience and the reading I've done.


humanbean that is very interesting. My cortisol was low last it was checked but my understanding is that both can get in the way of thyroid meds. May I ask if you did research on this subject and if so can you recommend any reading?


Under normal circumstances I might be able to, but sadly my laptop died yesterday and I'm using my husband's PC. :(

My laptop has been saying "repairing disk errors" for the last 20 hours or so. I doubt that it will ever come to life again. :(

I haven't been able to backup my PC for ages because my external hard drive was full. And guess who kept putting off buying a new one? :(

I'm really angry with myself, and what makes it worse is that I could have done something to save my stuff, including all my bookmarks, if I had acted earlier. :(


Oh gosh, I"m so sorry to hear that. It's everyone's nightmare (and no, I don't back up either and guess whose laptop has been failing in numerous tiny ways for the last year or so).

When I visited my mum, for some reason to get online I was asked for the password of the same network I'd been using since the first time I visited her in her new house. It usually connects automatically but it wanted a password. The password has a p in it and my p key hasn't worked properly in months. So I had to do an online chat w Apple to find a workaround (I had success w keyboard viewer) wherein it was revealed that they regard my laptop as 'vintage' - !

Good luck! Happy to do my own research. :-)


Thank you all for the replies. It's interesting to hear that other people feel the same. It's so hard to accept sometimes that you're not the same person you used to be.

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Yes, 100% the same here (but Hashi's, no thyroidectomy). I assume there is some relationship between adrenaline and abnormal thyroid function. I become an irritable shaking wreck w the slightest bit of stress esp if there is any intellectual/cognitive quality to it, ie if it is not straightforward/will not be easily resolved/will take a lot of massaging and figuring out. If it's just a matter of doing a number of things at once or similar kinds of stress I cope a little better w that as it doesn't involve much thought/judgement.

We are having a 'situation' w our builder and I have stopped reading his emails, leaving them for my partner to deal w. I feel like I'll have a stroke if I open one. But I can cope w a certain amount of filtered info via my partner, so I don't need to avoid the whole matter altogether.


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