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Ups And Downs Of Thyroid Concerns

Chandrally “Chun” Mahajan, MPH - Chief Healthcare Correspondent

June 9, 2023

Thyroid issues can be frustrating and the ups and downs that one goes through can affect Mental Health. Understanding the connection between Thyroid concerns and Mental Fortitude is the first step to combatting the added Stress of having these Health Issues. Moreover, trying some of the suggestions below may help improve quality of life–strengthening one’s approach in overcoming these Health Adversities.

First, where is this Thyroid Gland? It is a small Butterfly-Shaped Gland that is right on the front of the Throat midway between the chin and upper chest. Be gentle when feeling it with the thumb and pointer finger. This Gland releases Hormones that are in charge of Metabolism primarily. These Thyroid Hormones can also affect Heart Rate, Body Temperature, Fatigue Levels and Mood. It is no wonder then that these Hormones being out of balance can affect one’s Mental Health. Emerging concerns of Depression, Anxiety, and altered levels of productivity could be signaling a Thyroid concern. Before taking Thyroid Supplements though, monitor Thyroid Function with a Health Professional to ensure that external substances don’t tilt the Thyroid Gland off balance. Some Supplements may not be suited for everyone so speak to aHealth Provider.

Some things a provider may say if the Thyroid Gland is not functioning correctly is that these may be early clinical signs of Hyper-or-Hypo-Thyroidism. These conditions produce very different, distinct effects on the body. As a disclaimer though, just because people might have some of these symptoms, doesn’t mean they have a Thyroid problem. Similarly, just because someone may have a Thyroid problem, doesn’t mean all of these symptoms will surface.

When overactive and producing too many Hormones, the Thyroid Gland is now considered to be in a HyperThyroid State. HyperThyroidism, then, is the diagnosis given to someone having an overactive Thyroid. It can cause one to be less tolerant of the heat; to sweat more; to significantly lose weight in what may be considered an unhealthy way; to have warm, moist skin; to have fine hair or thinning hair; to have visual changes; increased bowel movements; to burn through food more often; to be more hyperactive or restless or anxious than usual; or to have sleeping issues. We can also see increased Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, Palpitations, and breathing issues, along with a decline in sexual drive and possible complications for Fertility. For women in particular, HyperThyroidism can sometimes lead to Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

On the other hand, when underactive and not producing enough Hormones, the Thyroid Gland is sometimes considered to be “failing” and in a HypoThyroid state. Rather than think of it as “failing,” I like to believe that the Thyroid Gland has some room for improvement! As such, supplementation and a little help with Synthetic Thyroid Medications can go a long way to supporting an underactive Thyroid. HypoThyroidism—or the condition of having an underactive Thyroid—presents with distinct features. Some symptoms include being intolerant of the cold; sweating less; gaining weight; feeling bloated or retaining more water; being constipated; having dry, cool skin; having coarse and/or brittle hair that may come with some loss of hair; or having wrist pain. Also, this may come with feelings of fatigue, low energy or lethargy, Depression, Low Heart Rate, and breathing issues. Similar to HyperThyroidism, decreased sexual drive and complications of Infertility are possible. Women also may have Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Should you have a number of these that have developed recently, it may be helpful to see your Health Provider for a wellness screening and to ask more about Thyroid issues. The big picture here is that this can be an overwhelming list of changes to your body that also blend into the realm of Mental Health. Understandably, Anxiety or Depression can creep into these conditions and affect one’s Overall Health.

Depression is one of the most typical Mental Health Conditions linked to Thyroid difficulties. Depression is more common in people with HypoThyroidism than in people without Thyroid problems. In fact, studies have found that up to 60% of HypoThyroidism sufferers exhibit Depressive symptoms. This is so because an imbalance in the Thyroid Hormones, which are involved in controlling mood, might result in Depressed symptoms.

Another Psychological Disorder that is frequently linked to Thyroid Issues is Anxiety. As we know now, Anxiety, Agitation and restlessness are all possible symptoms of HyperThyroidism. These symptoms may be incapacitating as they can dramatically and abruptly interfere with a person's daily life.

So, what can be done to enhance the quality of life for people who have Thyroid and Mental Health problems? Take a look at some of these suggestions:

• Engage in self-care: Taking care of your Physical and Mental Health is essential when managing Thyroid issues. Practice relaxation-based exercises like Yoga or Meditation for Stress Management. To enhance General Health, consume a balanced diet and engage in frequent exercise.

• Attend a support group: Meeting people who are going through the same things as you can give you a sense of camaraderie and support. Thyroid sufferers and anyone struggling with Mental Health difficulties can find a wide variety of online support groups. One Thyroid support group on Facebook is called, “Thyroid Support Group.”

• Seek Medical Attention: It's crucial to get help if you think you might have a Thyroid Issue or are having Mental Health issues. Your doctor can do tests to see if you have a Thyroid problem and can suggest appropriate treatments. Careful monitoring of Thyroid Function is essential because there are Complex Autoimmune Conditions that can start as HyperThyroidism and then progress to HypoThyroidism. Catching this early may help with long-term management of these diseases.

• Take Medication as directed: It's critical to follow directions when taking any Medication, whether for Thyroid or Mental Health. Without contacting your doctor, skipping doses or quitting Medicines might suddenly make symptoms worse.

• Think about Therapy: Managing the symptoms of Mental Illness can benefit greatly from Therapy. A Therapist can give you coping mechanisms and a secure environment in which to discuss your difficulties. This can go a long way in bolstering that Mental Strength!

In summation, Thyroid issues can cause Mental Health Decline and decrease one’s quality of life significantly. Seemingly, and without explanation, the Thyroid can change its course and so monitoring Thyroid Function is essential. Moreso, just understanding the nature of Thyroid problems can take the pressure off. Suggestions for improving your Mental Strength to overcome Thyroid changes include practicing self-care, venting to others in a safe setting (like a support group), taking Medications or Supplements as recommended by a Healthcare Professional, and adhering to follow-up appointments with Health Providers, including a Therapist if that sounds comfortable.

That’s it for now. Signing off!

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