The Link Between Hashimoto's Disease And Anxiety

Many people are unaware of how frequently anxiety occurs with Hashimoto's. Studies have found a strong link between Hashimoto's disease, depression, and anxiety.¹ Even a slight reduction in thyroid hormone levels may also affect mood and mental health.

Have you considered clinical trials for Hashimoto's disease?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Hashimoto's disease, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

What is Hashimoto's disease?

Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks healthy tissues and cells. In the case of Hashimoto's disease, your immune system makes antibodies that attack your thyroid gland.

The thyroid gland is vital because it produces hormones that control how your body uses energy. Thyroid hormones help regulate your body's metabolic functions and keep it functioning normally.

Your thyroid and the hormones it makes affect nearly every organ and cell in your body and control many of your body's most critical functions.

Hashimoto's disease, also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis,² causes swelling and inflammation of the thyroid gland. White blood cells are a part of the immune system, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis causes large amounts of white blood cells to build up in the thyroid.

The build-up of white blood cells damages the thyroid and affects thyroid hormone production.

Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism

Hashimoto's thyroiditis can lead to an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism.

When your thyroid gland reduces the production of hormones below the normal level, your metabolism and many of your body's functions slow down. The decrease in levels of thyroid hormones affects nearly every organ in your body and can affect many body functions, including breathing, heart rate, weight, digestion, and mood.

Hypothyroidism often has no signs at first, but as the disease progresses, it's common for symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and joint or muscle pain to appear gradually.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is characterized by feelings of tension, worry, nervousness, or unease, often concerning something with an uncertain outcome.

Anxiety is beneficial in some situations as it can alert us to dangers, increase our situational awareness and help us prepare. A certain amount of anxiety about events to come is normal and a part of everyday life.

However, anxiety disorders differ from normal fear or anxiety. People with anxiety disorders usually experience intense feelings of nervousness or anxiousness.

In addition, anxiety disorders often cause people to have excessive and persistent recurring thoughts of worry and fear about everyday situations.

Anxiety disorders can cause feelings of anxiety and panic that are difficult to control and out of proportion to the actual situation. These feelings can be so intense that they interfere with daily activities, causing you to avoid certain places or situations out of worry.

Often, anxiety disorders involve recurring episodes of intense anxiety and fear or terror known as panic attacks. These episodes typically start suddenly and reach a peak within minutes.

Anxiety may also cause several physical symptoms, including rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, or dizziness.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, and they are the most common type of mental disorder, affecting around 30% of adults during their lifetime.³

The most common type is generalized anxiety disorder. While people with generalized anxiety disorder worry about everyday issues, such as health, money, and family, their worries are excessive and constant almost every day for at least six months.

Can you develop anxiety when you have Hashimoto's disease?

Hashimoto's disease is a slowly progressing condition, often with no noticeable signs or symptoms in the earlier stages. Still, as the disease progresses, the decline in thyroid hormone production can result in overt hypothyroidism, with more prominent manifestations.

Studies show a higher prevalence of anxiety and depression among patients with hypothyroidism.⁴

Thyroid diseases, including Hashimoto's disease, can affect your mood and mental health, often causing anxiety or depression. It is possible that the more severe your thyroid disease, and the further it progresses, the more extreme the mood changes.

Research has found that a person with hypothyroidism is over twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder as healthy individuals.

Data also found that symptoms of depression were 3.5 times higher among patients with hypothyroidism compared with healthy people.¹

Diagnosing and treating anxiety associated with Hashimoto's disease

In many cases, the hypothyroidism and anxiety caused by Hashimoto's disease need to be treated together. However, the treatment of the low thyroid hormone levels may ease the mental health symptoms.

Often, people with Hashimoto's disease take medication to treat hypothyroidism. When the hormone balance is restored, anxiety symptoms subside in some cases.

However, in persistent and severe cases of anxiety, your doctor may recommend therapy or medication.

Diagnosing anxiety with Hashimoto's disease starts by discussing your symptoms with your doctor. They may order blood tests to check the levels of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream and, in some cases, recommend that you see a mental health specialist.

If your symptoms are severe, a mental health professional may recommend medication. However, with mild to moderate symptoms, they can provide counseling and the appropriate self-care tools to control symptoms.

When should you see a doctor?

Hashimoto's disease can cause a wide range of symptoms, and anxiety can cause significant issues in many areas of life. For example, anxiety can interfere with daily life and social interactions such as school or work.

Anxiety disorders can cause various symptoms, but some signs of a generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Feelings of restlessness, or being on edge

  • Getting tired easily

  • Difficulty concentrating or your mind suddenly goes blank

  • Being irritable

  • Muscle tension

  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry concerning everyday things

  • Sleep issues, such as restlessness and difficulty falling or staying asleep

If you have Hashimoto's and begin noticing these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about them as soon as possible. In addition, if you have both hypothyroidism and anxiety, it's vital to work with your doctor to monitor both conditions.

The lowdown

Research suggests a strong association between Hashimoto's disease and an increased risk of depression or anxiety disorders.

Hashimoto's disease and anxiety disorders are associated closely enough that researchers suggest people diagnosed with either condition receive screening for the other.¹ This type of testing can lead to early treatment of anxiety and enable patients to understand their condition better.

Have you considered clinical trials for Hashimoto's disease?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Hashimoto's disease, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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