The Emotional Impact of Thyroid Disorders: Coping with depression and anxiety

The Emotional Impact of Thyroid Disorders: Coping with depression and anxiety

A person sharing reasons for anxiety and depression in a therapy session
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The thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped organ at the base of your neck, plays a vital role in regulating your body’s metabolism. Thyroid conditions, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, do not only affect the physical aspects of health but also have a significant impact on emotional well-being. 

Various factors contribute to and exacerbate the mental health symptoms of thyroid disorders, some of which include stress, learning about the disease, keeping up with medications and appointments, and changes in physical appearance. In order to promote optimal health, an individual’s thyroid treatment plan should be all-encompassing, touching on mental health and emotional well-being as much as physical health.

This article explores the relationship between thyroid health and emotional well-being, the importance of getting timely help, and some coping mechanisms for depression and anxiety.


What’s the Link between Thyroid Disease and Depression and Anxiety?

Research shows a strong link between thyroid health, mental health, and emotional health. Generally, individuals with abnormal thyroid hormone levels may experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, mood changes, and sleep disturbances, among others.

A study published in the Journal of Nepal Health Research Council in 2020 reported a high prevalence of anxiety and depression among thyroid patients, especially in the female population. Based on the findings of the study, the researchers suggested that treatment of thyroid diseases should include addressing mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Here’s how hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can significantly affect your mood and emotional well-being.:

1. Hypothyroidism and Depression

When the thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones, your body slows down. This can lead to fatigue, weight gain, and feeling constantly cold

Hypothyroidism can also disrupt your sleep patterns, leading to excessive sleepiness (hypersomnia), making it hard to stay awake during the day. The sluggishness and fatigue associated with hypothyroidism can zap your motivation and make daily tasks feel overwhelming. This lack of motivation can easily spiral into feelings of hopelessness and decreased self-esteem, further fueling depression.

Additionally, changes in brain chemicals like serotonin, which contribute to mood regulation, can be affected by low thyroid hormone levels. The slowdown caused by hypothyroidism can also cloud your thinking and make it hard to focus. This is known as thyroid brain fog, and can be incredibly frustrating. 

2. Hyperthyroidism and Anxiety

An overactive thyroid produces too much hormone, causing your body to go into overdrive. Symptoms include weight loss and anxiety. 

Restlessness, racing thoughts, rapid heartbeat, and irritability are all indicative of anxiety linked to an overactive thyroid. This constant physical agitation can make it hard to relax, contribute to feelings of nervousness and worry, and make you prone to outbursts. These mood swings can hurt your relationships and may fuel social anxiety.

Just like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism can also disrupt sleep. Having difficulty sleeping (insomnia), is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism, which can worsen anxiety and make it harder to cope with stress.


No, It’s Not Just in Your Head
The Importance of Getting Help

Because many symptoms of thyroid problems overlap with depression and anxiety, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis. By performing thyroid function tests, your healthcare provider can determine if an imbalance in your thyroid hormone levels is responsible for your symptoms. 

The good news is that both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are treatable. Medications can effectively regulate your thyroid hormone levels, and with proper treatment, many people experience significant improvement in both their physical and mental health.

The right diagnosis certainly paves the way for the most effective treatment. Whether it’s thyroid medication or therapy for mental health, getting to the root cause can significantly improve your energy levels, mood, and overall well-being.


Coping Strategies for Emotional Well-being

Here are some tips for managing depression and anxiety alongside a thyroid condition:

1. Prioritize Treatment

Taking your thyroid medication as prescribed is essential. It is also important to have regular check-ups with your doctor to ensure your dosage is optimized for both physical and mental health. Once your thyroid levels are normal, you may see a significant improvement in your mood.

2. Seek Mental Health Support

Do not hesitate to talk to a therapist or counselor. Therapy can be a valuable tool to address the emotional impact of thyroid disease. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the most researched form of psychotherapy, can equip you with strategies to manage stress, negative thoughts, and anxiety.

3. Build a Strong Support System

Seeking emotional support from friends, family, or support groups can be very helpful as it gives you an outlet to share experiences and feelings related to your thyroid condition. Connecting with others who particularly understand the challenges of thyroid disease can be a source of strength and encouragement. Look for online or in-person support groups in your area. ThyForLife has an anonymous online community you can also benefit from.

4. Practice Self-Care

Prioritize self-care routines, including stress management techniques, adequate sleep, healthy eating, and enjoyable activities, to nurture your overall well-being. Practicing mindfulness and meditation, for instance, can be effective in reducing stress, calming the mind, and alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Low impact exercises such as yoga and progressive muscle relaxation also help manage stress levels and promote emotional well-being. You can also take some time to enjoy natural environments. Spending time (at least 2 hours a week) in nature has been reported to boost overall well-being.


You’re not alone. Don’t suffer in silence. If you suspect a thyroid issue or are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a world of difference in regaining control of your physical,  mental, and emotional health.

Key takeaways

  • Thyroid hormones influence brain function and neurotransmitter (serotonin) activity, directly impacting mood regulation.
  • Hypothyroidism, characterized by low thyroid hormone levels, is often associated with symptoms of depression, while hyperthyroidism, marked by excessive thyroid hormones, can lead to heightened anxiety. 
  • It is essential to approach these challenges with a multidimensional perspective, embracing both physical and emotional well-being in the journey toward optimal health.
  • By combining medical interventions with lifestyle adjustments, stress management, and emotional support, individuals can effectively cope with depression and anxiety associated with thyroid disorders. 


At ThyForLife, we do our utmost to provide accurate information. For detailed medical information regarding diagnosis, treatment, and general practices please consult your healthcare professional. Always listen to the advice of your healthcare provider.
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