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© 2018 by Nisha Jackson

*this degree is from an unaccredited college and is not approved for use in Oregon

  • Nisha Jackson, PhD

High Stress and Thyroid Health

We all deal with stress every day. Whether we’re constantly running late, taking care of loved ones, facing an important work deadline, running on fumes because of little sleep, or simply trying to get through a to-do list that never ends, we are all dealing with stress on some level. But all this rushing around can be bad news for your thyroid—a delicate gland that can sense when our bodies are out of whack.


While there’s no definitive proof that stress causes thyroid problems, the two definitely go hand in hand, and stress often appears to be the culprit behind low thyroid output and the reason behind why we are often dragging ourselves around, exhausted and barely getting through the day. Stress may also exacerbate any existing thyroid conditions, tipping a thyroid on the edge of normal functioning into the low-functioning state.


In an emergency, stress can save your life. When you are faced with a threatening situation, your body recognizes the danger and pours stress hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones drive up your heart rate and blood pressure, giving you the extra boost of energy and strength you need to survive each threatening situation (even if you’re just running late to a meeting).


The connection between the thyroid gland and stress lies in the fact that the thyroid gland controls how quickly your body uses energy, makes proteins, and responds to other hormones. So, if you are making demands on your body by constantly calling for stress hormones (as most busy people do), then the response from the thyroid is to attempt to keep up with the energy demands until it just can’t do it anymore. Like driving a car pedal to the metal all the time—eventually it will break down. Then, all you can do is shift into the lowest possible gear and try to make it to the shop. The same thing happens to your body. If you push your thyroid too far, your body begins to feel broken down.



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