Thyroid UK
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Here again! Hypo, feeling terrible after enjoying exercise during the summer. Please could you help me interpret my recent blood tests x


I have been taking levo since early 2015. Over the past 18 months on top of being hypo I have been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder after my mother suddenly died when I went to visit her in Italy with my new baby in April 2016 and I found her when it was too late. After fighting with the gps who wanted to give me antidepressants for my fatigue (I was breastfeeding), even though my values had gotten slightly worse, levo had been upped from 50 to 100 mcg over the course of last winter. In the meantime, I was taking vitamin D spray, vitamin B12 and Jarrow B right, vitamin K and ferrous fumarate.

since last time I posted in early 2017, I have gone through various appointments and scans at the Rheumatoid arthritis clinic at the hospital to rule out this was the cause of a bout of joint and muscle pain.

In June I did private blood tests in Italy with the following results

TSH 2.3884 (0.2800 – 4. 6000)

FT3 2.61 (1.40 – 4.20)

FT4 1.12 (0.80 – 2.20)

Antithyroglobulin Antibody (TG Ab) 0.9 (<34.0)

Antithyroid Peroxidase Antibody (TPO Ab) 0.6 (<12)

Vitamin D3 25OH 25.8 (0.0-5.0 = deficiency, 5.1 – 20 = insufficiency, 20.1 – 100= sufficiency)

Vitamin B12 389 (157-1060)

In the spring and summer i felt better physically and didn't have so much pain, but really struggled with depression and insomnia still. When I stopped breastfeeding in April I tried taking antidepressants but didn't tolerate them, they made me really paranoid, so I stopped them after 3 weeks.

To help my mood and try to deal with my pregnancy weight which I haven't lost at all, I decided to go back to the gym, which is something I really enjoy and I did 2-3 sessions of yoga or pilates a week with a little bit of cardio before (mostly 10 minutes of slow running) and I also cycled everywhere.

This made me feel happier and it helped me get through a really stressful August working on a new introduction to my PhD thesis, I also felt my mind was clearer after having struggled with brain fog a lot (One big source of stress is that I don't have a job as I haven't finished my PhD so finances are very tight and I have really low self esteem as a consequence).

I went to the gym regularly for about 3 months, I noticed though that the workouts weren't getting easier, especially the running. I wasn't losing weight but as I wasn't dieting I didn't think much of it ( I am not gluten free). Then 3 weeks ago I started feeling increasingly tired, just after my little one had chicken pox and I was more stressed than ever because of not being able to work on my thesis and having had some very critical feedback from my supervisors. I was so exhausted I had to sleep after a gentle pilates session. Then I started noticing I was more and more out of breath.

Now I feel like even brisk walking is too much exercise, I am out of breath climbing the stairs and if I go for a gentle walk my legs feel like their are swelling like when I go for a run or cycle really hard. I wake up with very stiff neck arms and back and my hands ache again. I am exhausted and confused and can't seem to do any work.

I went to see my osteopath and they said I was clearly drained and tight allover and would be better off leaving the exercise but also he couldn't see a clear reason: it could be my thyroid, or nutrients deficiency or sleep deprivation (I struggle with insomnia and also my little girl wakes us up every night at about 3).

I called the gp, I spoke to a doctor that prescribed the antidepressants a few months ago, who's been reasonably helpful but has never actually seen me in person. When he heard my symptoms he said: I think it's probably just your low mood. Still he agreed to do some blood tests, and they have just come back, all normal.

There are no signs of inflammation according to the results.

My thyroid seems better than ever:

TSH 1.8 (0.2 - 5.0)

free T4 17.7 (9.0 - 24)

blood count normal

ferritin 40 mg/L (13.0-150.0)

B12 664 ng/L (197 - 1999)

folate 7.6 mg/L (3.9 - 20)

I am still waiting for the Vitamin D results.

I can see my ferritin has gone down a little bit from january, when it was 65. My B12 has gone down, from top of the range to lower half of the range, and folate also in the lower half of the range.

TSH is better than in June, (also given the different range) and T4 also has gotten higher, from lower half of the range to more than mid range. I will go to Italy this week and do the T3 and reverse T3 test, plus selenium and magnesium if they do it.

So far it looks like even though my nutrients have gone down a bit, my thyroid values haven't suffered. I have started taking the supplements again, plus 2 brazil nuts a day for selenium, as soon as the symptoms came back.

I feel terrible and I my quality of life and productivity are very much affected. I can't concentrate on my work and feel like my goals are getting further away every day. I just want to feel reasonably well to enjoy my little family and get on with my work.

Any advice you may be able to give me would be very much appreciated.

3 Replies

Hello Assunta

With the amount of stress you have been though it might be worth looking at adrenal issues - ‘adrenal fatigue’, as this can affect your body’s ability to convert the inactive T4 to the active form T3, so you get all the symptoms of being hypo, but your thyroid blood values look normal. Frustrating.

‘Adrenal fatigue’ can be caused by long periods of stress, and it sounds like you have had more than your fair share of that recently. I think there’s information about it on the Thyroid UK website and Stop the Thyroid Madness (as well as generally on the internet). Mark Starr’s book on Type 2 Hypothyroidism is worth a read too.

Depression and insomnia can both be symptoms of hypothyroidism, and anti-depressants often don’t agree with people with thyroid disorders. I was put on a low tri-cyclic antidepressant to help me sleep before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and it caused the most terrifying panic attacks - so I can sympathise.

A natural way to help boost serotonin, is through food – eating avocados is excellent, and cashew nuts I think.

If you can it would be good to get tested to check your mineral status, as it can be hard to determine this accurately without testing. Iodine and Manganese are also important to for your thyroid. Low zinc can also cause fatigue. Magnesium can also cause fatigue and be depleted through stress.

Speaking from personal experience it's so incredibly traumatic to lose your mother so suddenly and unexpectedly and in such awful circumstances – you have all my sympathies <3. If you are in the UK I would recommend getting in touch with CRUSE who can offer bereavement counselling. A few years after my mother passed away I saw a wonderful CRUSE counsellor for a few months - which was free which took the stress off. I'm not saying that this will miraculously resolve your health issues, but it may help you to feel supported and understood after such a horrible time. Having a baby, the pressure of your PhD along with money worries are all stressful too. Try to nurture yourself and look after yourself - acknowledge that you are unwell and try to pace yourself - and yes I know it's easier said than done :-) but I've learnt the hard way that in the long run 'pushing yourself' really doesn't help.

I hope this helps a little.

Take care xxx

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thank you so much sassicat for your kind and thoughtful comment, I now realise I have written a ridiculously long post and I am so grateful you took the time to read it! I am really sorry you went through something similar.

I am seeing a therapist every week, it's not free, but I had seen the same person for 5 years before so when my mum died I went back to see her. It helps me a lot to get through the weeks. I don't know how I'd cope without it!

I am not new to depression and anxiety and neither was my mum, who was also hypothyroid. I wonder how much the two things are connected!

I will do some research about adrenal fatigue and look into testing for those minerals.

Thank you for your time and your excellent advice.


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Assunta - It's the least I can do and I'm so pleased to hear that you are getting supportive help <3 Look after yourself

Good Luck xx

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