Do you suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, or depression? If these sound all too familiar, thyroid disease may be at the root of the issue. The thyroid and anxiety can hand in hand. When your thyroid does not function the way it should, your mental health can suffer.
Unfortunately, many doctors prescribe anti-anxiety medications before getting to the root of what’s going on. While these medications may help get you over a “hump,” they are only acting as a band aid. It’s important to understand why anxiety is occurring in the first place. It all starts with the proper testing to understand if the thyroid is playing a part in your anxiety symptoms.
Thyroid Disease & Anxiety
If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed and always anxious, it’s time to get your thyroid checked. As a Functional Medicine Practitioner, one of the first tests I run when someone tells me they deal with chronic anxiety is a complete thyroid panel.
Having excess thyroid hormone such as in the case of Graves’ disease can also cause anxiety. What many people don’t know is that this can also occur with Hashimoto’s.
When dealing with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, your immune system is attacking the thyroid gland. When your thyroid gland is under attack, thyroid hormones can spill over into the bloodstream triggering anxiety and even heart palpitations. The release of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream can cause surges in thyroid hormone which can be responsible for those jittery and anxious symptoms you may be experiencing. (1)
It’s also important to understand that every single cell in the body has receptors for thyroid hormones, and without proper thyroid function many systems in your body suffer. Not only that, but thyroid hormones act directly on the brain among many other body systems which makes sense as to how it can affect anxiety levels.
How to Relieve Anxiety When it’s Linked to Hashimoto’s
If you are suffering from anxiety, the good news is that there are things you can do. As I mentioned before, getting the proper testing done is important. Whenever I meet with patients, I run a thorough thyroid panel to uncover cases of Hashimoto’s that may not even show up on standard blood work. It’s essential to do the investigative work to really determine what may be causing your symptoms.
If Hashimoto’s is at the root of the anxiety, here are a couple of things you can do to feel better:
Balance Your Blood Sugar Levels
Often times this comes with a change in your diet. Hashimoto’s mixed with low blood sugar levels is a recipe for anxiety! Having blood sugar swings only makes irritability and anxiety worse and is damaging to your overall health. A study found that about 50% of patients with Hashimoto’s also had an intolerance to carbohydrates. (2) After consuming carbs, their blood sugar levels would spike too high which causes a large release of insulin. The surge in insulin can then lead to low blood sugar which can cause anxiety. To help balance your blood sugar levels, stay away from processed foods, sugars, and try to keep grains out of your diet. Sticking to a Paleo style diet is a great way to naturally manage your blood sugar levels and start to feel better. Also, be sure to eat every two to three hours, and stick to whole and nutrient dense foods.
Boost Your Selenium Intake
Many people associate iodine as the most important nutrient to get when dealing with Hashimoto’s, but selenium plays an incredibly important role. Selenium works to help protect thyroid cells and can help convert inactive T4 to T3. Getting enough selenium can not only help with thyroid health but may help reduce the anxiety that comes along with thyroid issues as well. Try adding just a couple of Brazil nuts to your diet per day to make sure you are getting enough selenium.
Change Your Diet
This goes hand in hand with balancing your blood sugar levels. In order to better manage your thyroid health, it’s important to take a look at your diet. I recommend that my patients start a Paleo style diet that eliminates inflammatory and toxic foods from their diet. Your immune system is already overreacting due to an autoimmune condition; you don’t need to cause any more harm with the foods you consume. Food sensitivities also come into play here. Uncovering hidden food intolerances is a great step in removing foods that may be causing a reaction in your body. These hidden intolerances can also trigger anxiety. Getting the proper testing for food sensitivities is also a great way to getting to the bottom of your anxiety symptoms. By eating better and better supporting your thyroid, you may be surprised at how much better you feel when it comes to anxiety.
I know this is easier said than done, but it’s important to find time each day to relax. Even if it’s just 10 minutes of meditation per day or a 15-minute brisk walk. Dedicate just a few minutes each day to relax. Calming the mind is crucial to healing from Hashimoto’s and getting your anxiety under control.
If you are suffering from any health related issues, I am currently accepting new patients. To start the testing process and discover what is driving your health issues and to get on the road to recovery call our office at +1 (866) 498-1958 to schedule your initial consultation. If it is after our normal hours of operation you can click here to leave us a message. Please only leave a message if you would like a call back to schedule a consultation.
- Izabella Wentz. Hashimoto’s And Anxiety (2015)
- Izabella Wentz. Blood Sugar Imbalances And Hashimoto’s (2015)
- Chris Kresser. Thyroid Imbalance Could Be the Source of Your Biggest Health Problems.