Can Stress cause thyroid imbalance?

Managing stress is a must for Healthy Thyroid!

Expert's View Thyroid

Thyroid disorder has increasingly become a common health disorder. Apart from genetic and lifestyle factors, many other factors may increase an individual’s risk of developing thyroid, one being stress.

Our thyroid works in tandem with our adrenal glands. The adrenal glands, above our kidneys, can handle small amounts of stress well. When we encounter stress, they release cortisol. So, when we are stressed, the body produces an increased amount of cortisol, which increases the adrenaline.

These hormones can cause hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and related disorders. The most common thyroid disorders are autoimmune disorders where the body attacks its tissue, in this case, the thyroid gland. There are two types: Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Graves’ disease causes the thyroid to be overactive, while Hashimoto’s causes it to be underactive. Stress alone will not cause a thyroid disorder but can worsen the condition.

How does stress impact our thyroid functioning? 

The impact of stress on the thyroid occurs by slowing our body’s metabolism. This is another way that stress and weight gain are linked. When thyroid function slows during stress, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormone levels fall. Also, the conversion of T4 hormone to T3 may not occur, leading to a higher level of reverse T3.

Insulin resistance and issues balancing blood sugar often occur alongside hypothyroidism. Increased levels of glucocorticoids lower the levels of TSH in the blood. A delicate balance between stress hormones and cortisol must exist for proper thyroid function. If this benign balance changes, our thyroid symptoms may increase.

Chronic stress can cause problems in our body for years before lab tests can detect a problem. Therefore, one must manage stress levels to ensure good thyroid health, as prolonged stress may crop up as depression or anxiety.

Tips to Manage Stress

One can manage stress levels and maintain good thyroid health by making simple daily changes.

  • Eat right: A healthy, balanced diet looks different for everyone. Generally, one must plan to eat three well-balanced meals full of fruits, vegetables, and protein daily. One must start their day with a good breakfast, low in sugar but high in protein and fiber. Reducing alcohol, caffeine, and sugar in our diet will help us have good energy levels. One must take the time to sit and enjoy a meal and eat the meal slowly. This will help our body digest food better. While this may seem challenging in our busy lifestyle, we must implement it as it can substantially help our overall and thyroid health.

  • Ensure vitamin intake: One must consider adding thyroid-supporting vitamins and minerals to the daily routine in consultation with the doctor. An iodine deficiency may be a cause of hypothyroidism. In addition to iodine, consider adding other essential vitamins and minerals, such as selenium, zinc, iron, copper, vitamins A, B, C, and E. 

  • Sufficient sleep well: Sleeping enough at night can be challenging with hypothyroidism. Stress makes getting a good night’s sleep tough, too. But aiming for a good night’s rest can have a huge impact on our thyroid health. 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.

  • Rest well: Meditating or pausing for a while can help the body relax. In turn, relaxation reduces stress and has less impact on our thyroid. There are many ways to relax. For some people, making crafts helps to calm. Additionally, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or simply being outside can help soothe an individual.

We may not be able to remove all the stress from our lives, but supporting our bodies with healthy foods, adding vitamins and minerals, sleeping sufficiently, and trying some relaxation techniques can help us balance our overall and thyroid health.