I want to briefly touch on the difference between low thyroid (Hypothyroidism) and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I say briefly because I feel like a lot of people coming to this page will already be familiar with these. Afterwards we will look at some of the ways low thyroid can cause anxiety and lastly what we can do about it.
Hypothyroidism vs Hashimoto’s – Are they the same?
The simple answer is no.
(Hypo)thyroidism is low thyroid function in the body, usually because your thyroid gland isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone for the cells in your body. There can be many reasons for this.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease and it is the primary cause of hypothyroidism. The immune system identifies the thyroid gland as a foreign invader and attacks it. The resulting inflammation damages the thyroid until it results in hypothyroidism. However, in addition to hypothyroidism, a person with Hashimoto’s can also have periods of normal thyroid function alternating with hyperthyroidism.
There is so, so very much more information on these two conditions but for the sake of not overwhelming, I want to stick to the topic of our article… Can Low Thyroid Cause Anxiety?
Establishing a connection – What the Experts Say
Since autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT), (one example is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) can be a cause of hypothyroidism I am including information from a study that links AIT to anxiety and depression.
This is a direct quote from an article on Jama Psychiatry, published in 2018, “In this systematic review and meta-analysis of 20 studies comprising 43,388 participants, patients with AIT showed significantly higher depression and anxiety disorder scores compared with healthy controls.”
You can see from the quote above that the link has been established between autoimmune thyroiditis and anxiety. There is at least one AIT that causes hyperthyroidism, (overproduction of thyroid hormone) called Graves disease, so since we want to confirm the link between hypothyroidism I’m including the quote below.
Izabella Wentz, PharmD, author of Hashimoto’s Protocol is one of the experts that was featured on the docuseries Broken Brain, hosted by Dr. Mark Hyman. She was wrongly diagnosed with anxiety and chronic fatigue for nearly 10 years before she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism.
She said, “There are things commonly misdiagnosed as seizure disorders, panic attacks, and anxiety attacks. All these things can stem from thyroid disease and can be reversed when you get proper thyroid treatment.” She also talks about the 5 stages of Hashimoto’s and that anxiety is likely a symptom in the early stages of the disease. This is good news because it can still be treated in the early stages.
How Low Thyroid Causes Anxiety
Thyroid hormone is directly involved in the release and regulation of our neurotransmitters so simply put, low levels of thyroid hormone can lead to low neurotransmitters. This is so important because neurotransmitters are used by the neurons in our brains to communicate with each other. If they can’t communicate properly this can create anxiety as well as a host of other problems.
The symptoms of low thyroid, such as your hair falling out, dry skin and fatigue can also cause anxiety! I think for me it really is more to do with the neurotransmitters because the treatment below works.
What to do
Obviously, if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis you need to get treatment. If you have not been diagnosed yet but suspect you have one, or both, of these you need to get diagnosed. Our thyroid is too important to ignore and there can be serious consequences if we don’t pay attention and treat these different disorders. So definitely go to your doctor and get the proper tests done. Hopefully, just confirming that your anxiety can be caused by low thyroid is helpful and now you can take the next steps of doing more research and confirming a diagnosis.
In the meantime, what can you do for the anxiety? That’s the question. Because as we are getting treated for anything we also have to deal with the symptoms along the way.
When my daughter was being treated for Lyme disease she had terrible anxiety and the amino acids, especially Gaba, helped her get through it.
Neurotransmitters. Learning about neurotransmitters for the first time was so exciting to me especially since I learned how to supplement with amino acids to balance my brain chemistry and substantially decrease my anxiety.
I have had great success using this Chart of Amino Acid Deficiency Symptoms to determine which amino acids to supplement with. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to share this will all of you. Please leave me a comment when you’ve had a chance to use it and let me know what you think. At my house, I have each of the amino acids on hand but I only take them as necessary and I take certain ones more than others so I really don’t go through them very fast.
Using the Chart and Recommendations for Quality Amino Acids
As I was treating my own anxiety, I had done so much research and found an abundance of helpful information but I had to compile it in a way that I could find quickly and easily during an episode of anxiety or a panic attack. It was not the time to try to read the fine print and try to figure out what to do, that would have just made my anxiety worse!
Each column has a list of symptoms and at the top, it shows what you might be low in if you are experiencing those symptoms. Under that, you will see which amino acid to supplement with. I like to print out several copies and grab one when I’m feeling sad, anxious, angry, having cravings, or whatever the case may be. Of course, you could have a copy on your phone or tablet and just quickly scan to see what might help you at the moment.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please use this Amino Acid Notes: Warnings along with the chart. I created it because it contains information about each amino acid and it has some warnings as well. For example, you need to be careful about taking Tyrosine if you have migraines or high blood pressure. As with everything start low and slow to see how you react to everything.
You don’t need to take all of these at once. Use the chart, start with the one you need most, try to keep all of them in your toolbox for when the need arises.
Make sure to get high-quality L-Tryptophan. I recommend Lidtke (link below) I like these because they are only 100 mg. So you can start with one as a low dose. I keep them on my nightstand and take one if I’m having trouble falling asleep. Update: I only take 1/2 now because they knock me out.
High-Quality Amino Acids –
(Links will take you to Thorne and Amazon and they will open on a new page)
Thorne Thyroid Test – Thyroid imbalance is more common than you might think. This at-home blood test provides insights about thyroid function by measuring key hormone levels. Results include a personalized health plan.
Source Naturals Serene Science GABA Calm – I find that GABA works fast. When I’m having acute anxiety… (for example I have a condition called misophonia and the sound of my cat cleaning herself drives me instantly insane) I take 1-3 of these. In fact, when I’m on the amino acids and the Pyroluria Treatment Protocol the sound doesn’t even bother me, I think she’s cute. It’s a night and day change.
Lidtke L-Tryptophan Chewable – Natural building block of serotonin, important for mood, appetite, normal sleep patterns, and nervous system function.
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