How Stress Effects Your Thyroid (And Vice Versa)

Image: Jose Martin Stress is a killer.

In our culture it's fairly common to see signs of burn out and exhaustion everywhere, and we also face an influx of harmful chemicals on a day-to-day basis that put our physical self under massive amounts of stress.

There's been lots of buzz in the media about the deeper implications of stress, especially when it comes to diseases like cancer. But one impact of stress that doesn't get a lot of air time is its effect on your thyroid.

How the Thyroid Works

The thyroid is one of the most important glands in the body when it comes to regulating our overall health. It takes iodine from food and converts it to hormones called T3 and T4.

T3 and T4 are then released into the bloodstream, where they control the conversion of oxygen and calories into energy.

Every single cell in your body requires T3 and T4 to create enough energy to survive.

Ergo, a malfunctioning thyroid can effect every cell in your body - and do a number on your overall health.


Stress and Your Thyroid

We experience stress every day in some form, but chronic stress (when we don't have a break from stimulus to rest and relax) floods the body with too much of a hormone called cortisol.

Too much cortisol can interfere with thyroid hormone production: it can stimulate the thyroid to work harder to create enough T3 and T4, ultimately fatiguing the gland.

This kind of chronic stress can also increase the likelihood of thyroid conditions that run in your family: if you're prone to hypo- or hyperthyroidism and you're not able to rest and rejuvenate often enough, these conditions will most likely flare up.

Finally, under stress your immune system isn't as effective, making you more prone to auto-immune thyroid disorders.

In short, chronic stress for long periods of time has the ability to weaken one of the most important glands in your body.

Stress, Your Thyroid, Eggs and Chicken

There's a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario that often happens with a weakened thryoid and chronic stress: the fatigue from a thyroid condition may slow you down and create stress in your life, as you're unable to carry on at your normal speed.

Then, the stress of letting balls drop in your day-to-day life will impact your thyroid further, causing even more exhaustion and preventing you from healing.

Conversely, you may be dealing with chronic stress, develop a thyroid condition, which generates more stress, and then makes your thyroid worse.

But it doesn't have to be a lose-lose scenario!


Beating Stress

Luckily, there are many, many resources for decreasing stress in our lives.

Start by identifying its cause: if you're not stressed out about work or personal matters, it may be that your diet is stressing out your body. Lifestyle changes can have a huge impact.

If you know it's work or something personal, you can pay more attention to diet.

Meditation and mindfulness exercises are incredibly useful for reducing stress, especially when they become habitual.

And, in general, visiting a Naturopathic Doctor or an MD will give you a slew of options unique to your symptoms and health history.

You don't need to suffer through exhaustion, moodiness, unwanted weight gain and other physical ailments.

Regulate your stress level to regulate your hormones, and your whole world can change.