You probably know that your thyroid gland manufactures hormones, and you likely are aware that stress affects hormone production. So, you may be wondering if there is a connection between stress and the thyroid. Let’s find out how stress impacts the thyroid and how the thyroid impacts stress.
As Dr. Stefano Guandalini explains here, “Stress increases production of the hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol can inhibit secretion of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) from the pituitary gland, leading to partial suppression of thyroxine, the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland.”
So, if you have an existing thyroid condition, yes, experiencing stress could make your symptoms more pronounced.
Could stress lead you to develop a thyroid condition? No one knows for sure, but we do not have strong data to suggest that at this time.
Alas, stress and the thyroid can interact in a vicious cycle, with the thyroid also making stress worse. Dr. Guandalini says, “When you have either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, you become more sensitive to both mental and physical stresses, as the excessively high or low levels of thyroid hormones affect how the whole body reacts to stress.”
So, someone with a thyroid condition may struggle more with stress than someone without one, all other things being equal. Indeed, the condition itself can be a source of additional stress, so that also factors in.
Regardless of whether you have a thyroid condition, it is important to take steps to keep stress in check. Here are a few recommendations:
Now you know how stress and the thyroid interact. Evidence at this time does not point toward stress causing thyroid conditions. But stress can flare symptoms in those who have those conditions already, and having a thyroid condition can increase stress. For everyone, managing stress is important for thyroid and full body health.
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