How Does Stress Impact Your Thyroid?
In today’s fast-paced world, stress finds its way into our lives in different ways. Chronic stress can not only hamper our productivity and health, but it can also hurt the functioning of the thyroid gland.
There are different ways in which stress can impact the thyroid gland and its functions.
Stress can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headache, difficulty in falling asleep, mood swings and so on. Many of these symptoms are similar to those caused by hypothyroidism. Further, stress reduces the conversion of the T4 hormone to its active form i.e. T3. It also causes thyroid hormone resistance.
Chronic stress can also lead to the development of a thyroid condition such as hypothyroidism. The normal response of the human body to stress is to fight it using its adrenal system. The body releases these adrenal hormones as a part of its ‘fight or flight system. However, when the stress becomes prolonged and chronic, the adrenal glands can no longer handle this stress by themselves. This leads to a state of adrenal fatigue. Once adrenal fatigue sets in, the body begins to slow down. Since the thyroid gland is the cornerstone of metabolism control in the human body, it also slows down, leading to hypothyroidism.
Stress can exacerbate symptoms if you have an existing thyroid disorder. It can interfere not only with the production of thyroid hormones but also with the thyroid gland to release lower amounts of hormones. In patients suffering from hypothyroidism, stress can exaggerate symptoms such as weight gain, sleep and lack of energy. This can cause a vicious cycle that decelerates your health and slows down your metabolism.
In patients with hyperthyroidism, stress is even more dangerous. Patients with hyperthyroidism often have elevated heart rates. In such cases, stress can worsen symptoms of increased heart rate, often known as thyroid storm.
Stress relief tips
You can help your overall stress levels and thyroid health by making some simple changes in your daily life.
- Eat right
Plan to eat three well-balanced meals full of fruits, vegetables, and protein each day. Make sure to take the time to sit and enjoy a meal, which will help your body digest food better. While this may seem tough to do in your busy lifestyle, your body and thyroid will thank you for it.
- Think about vitamins
You may want to consider adding thyroid-supporting vitamins and minerals to your daily routine. Add essential vitamins and minerals, such as:
- vitamins A, B, C, and E
Talk to your doctor before starting these supplements.
- Sleep well
Try adopting a strict bedtime and avoid technology in the hours before bed. Slowing down before you sleep allows the adrenal glands to lower the stress response and rest.
Taking time to reflect or meditate can help the body relax. In turn, relaxation leads to reduced stress and less impact on your thyroid.
You may not be able to remove all the stress from your life, but supporting your body with healthy foods, adding vitamins and minerals, sleeping properly, and trying some relaxation techniques can help you balance your overall health as well as your thyroid.