If you are suddenly experiencing anxiety when you never have before, it may be due to thyroid dysfunction. Conversely, if you’ve already been diagnosed with underactive or overactive thyroid function, don’t be surprised if you begin having bouts of anxiety.
While anxiety is widely known as a mental health disease, when it comes on suddenly without any history of anxiety, it may be caused by a physiological issue such as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
The thyroid gland acts as the control center for your body. Thyroid hormones produced in the thyroid gland communicate with your brain, heart and other organs, as well as your muscles, to use energy properly.
If your thyroid gland is underactive, it doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, resulting in a slower metabolism. This is called hypothyroidism. If your thyroid gland is overactive, it produces too much thyroid hormone, which causes your metabolism to be excessively fast. This is called hyperthyroidism.
Both types of thyroid dysfunction are more common in women than men. Hypothyroidism tends to develop with age, although it can also be due to an autoimmune disease that can be present since birth.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition in which the immune system makes antibodies that destroy thyroid cells and stop them from making the thyroid hormone.
The most common form of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, in which your body produces an antibody that overstimulates your thyroid gland.
The Thyroid/Energy Link
Any dysfunction of the thyroid can cause anxiety, but most often the culprit is hyperthyroidism. And although hypothyroidism is commonly associated with depression, it can also cause anxiety.
The thyroid hormone is pivotal to the creation and regulation of neurotransmitters like serotonin. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, and mood. When your thyroid is not functioning properly, these neurotransmitters become erratic, potentially causing anxiety and panic attacks. Anxious feelings can be made even worse after discovering you have a thyroid disorder, because now you’re worried about your health. But don’t worry—we can help!
If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder and are experiencing unexplained anxiety, or if you suspect a thyroid disorder, the experts at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic can help identify the issue and administer treatment to get your levels back on track.
Dr. Jennifer Breazeale is a board-certified OB/GYN specialist at Kelsey-Seybold’s The Woodlands Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health. Her clinical interests include general and high-risk obstetric care, female permanent sterilization, endometrial ablation and hysteroscopy, minimally invasive surgery, treatment of menstrual problems, contraceptive options, infertility, and hormone treatment of menopausal concerns.