If you are feeling anxious and having trouble either going to sleep or staying asleep you may be wondering, can thyroid issues cause anxiety.
The definition of anxiety is:
a(1): apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious (2): an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
Anxiety differs from just worrying about stuff when it crosses the line into physical manifestations such as the sweating, heart palpitations, muscle tension, etc. That feeling that can creep up on you when you go to bed at night all ready to go to sleep and then suddenly you are wide awake feeling like you have lost control of everything, your heart is pounding, you’ve broken into a cold sweat for no apparent reason. This can happen during the day too, but for me it usually happens when I’m settling down for the night.
Why Does Hypothyroid Cause Anxiety?
The thyroid hormone is directly linked to the regulation of very important neurotransmitters. From GABA to serotonin to norepinephrine, thyroid hormone plays a crucial role in their creation and regulation.
When your thyroid hormone is not functioning properly, these neurotransmitters tend to go haywire, causing not only anxiety, but also frequent panic attacks. This is made worse by the physical symptoms that are often associated with hypothyroidism, often causing people to worry that something is wrong with their health.
Hypothyroidism is far more common in women than men, and the risk increases as you age. Also, some people with hypothyroidism experience an increase in panic attacks and anxiety unrelated to the hormone, as a result of fear over the physical effects of the thyroid. Recall that stress itself may contribute to hypothyroidism, so in some cases thyroid issues may be the response to anxiety, not the cause.
Hypothyroidism, however, is actually not the type of thyroid disorder most associated with anxiety and panic attacks. That’s hyperthyroidism, which is when too much of the thyroid hormone is produced. Hypothyroid more commonly causes depression and fatigue, rather than anxiety. But anxiety and panic attacks have been reported, and the above reasons are the most likely causes.
So, yes, to answer the question, can thyroid issues cause anxiety.
Usually anxiety is related to hyperthyroidism (or an over active thyroid) while depression is more associated with hypothyroidism (or low thyroid function). I’m not so sure (in my not professional opinion) that people with thyroid issues can’t swing back in forth a bit between the two extremes. I know from personal experience that I have struggled with anxiety while also experiencing hypothyroidism symptoms. Could it have been because of menopausal related hormone issues? Not really sure.
Ultimately every part of your body is related. The concept of singling out one organ or response and labeling it doesn’t really help in the over all healing process in my opinion. Let’s look at strategies to deal with anxiety or panic attacks.
Dealing with Anxiety Caused by Thyroid Issues
Diet is the single most important aspect of our health. Pay attention to what you are eating. Beyond that…
When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, these strategies will help you cope:
- Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
- Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
- Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
- Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
- Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
- Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.