How Are Inflamed Thyroid Glands Linked With Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety is rapidly becoming a health concern for many developed counties across the world. It has been estimated that about 35% of people between the age of 25 and 60 have anxiety disorder. This mood disorder can have a significant impact on daily life of the person. It makes it very tough for the individual to focus on work, maintain relationships, attend social gatherings, and lead a normal life. Moreover, anxiolytics are not always helpful in decreasing the symptoms. Anxiety is the body’s response to stressful conditions in which the outcome is not known [1, 2, 3].

While in some people, anxiety is fleeting and comes only when under stress, there are many cases where people are persistently anxious and are under constant fear of something untoward happening to them. This is what is termed as an anxiety disorder. Treatment for this aside from counseling and psychotherapy are anti-anxiety medicines but they do not have a long lasting effect [1, 2, 3].

As of now, the management for anxiety is based on the notion that this disorder is caused due to problems with the nervous system. However, various researches have suggested that along with the nervous system, the endocrine system may also have a role to play in the development of anxiety disorders [1, 2, 3].

The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that are necessary to carry out various metabolic processes in the body. It also helps in regulating, heart, digestive, and muscle function. The thyroid hormones also play an important role in brain development in children. The thyroid gland gets inflamed mainly because of an autoimmune disorder in which the antibodies of the body mistakenly attack the thyroid gland causing inflammation [1, 2, 3].

Recent research suggests that anxiety disorder may have an association with thyroid disorder [1, 2, 3]. The article below highlights the link between inflamed thyroid gland and anxiety disorder.

How Are Inflamed Thyroid Glands Linked With Anxiety Disorders?

Latest research points out that anxiety disorder may also stem from a dysfunctional endocrine system. The results of the study show that inflammation of the thyroid gland at times can cause anxiety. It is well-known that an underactive thyroid results in depression but the relationship between anxiety and thyroid inflammation is something that is quite new. This latest finding increases the possibility of opening new avenues for treatment of anxiety disorder [3].

The findings of the research were presented at the European and International Conference on Obesity in September last year. The research was led by Juliya Onofriichuk, from Kyiv City Clinical Hospital in Ukraine. She states that the findings of their research suggest that the endocrine system of the body plays a major role in development of anxiety disorder and physicians should look for thyroid problems along with a complete checkup of the endocrine system when examining a person with anxiety disorder [3].

The thyroid gland produces two hormones namely T3 and T4. These hormones are responsible for regulating body temperature function of the heart, digestion, and even bone health. These two hormones also are known to help in producing adrenaline and dopamine, the two hormones that are activated when an individual is anxious or is under stress [3].

Thyroid inflammation occurs when the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland causing it to get inflamed. To establish the connection, the researchers closely studied 29 males and 27 females of average age 33 years and 31 years respectively. These participants of the study already had a known diagnosis of anxiety disorder. The thyroid glands of these participants were then examined via ultrasound. The T3 and T4 levels were also checked [3].

The results of the study showed that all the participants showed some signs of thyroid inflammation. There was also presence of thyroid antibodies in these individuals.

What researchers also observed was that even though the thyroid gland of the participants was inflamed the gland itself was functioning normally. In fact, the T3 and T4 levels were also within the normal range [3].

For the inflammation, the participants were given a course of antiinflammatories for a period of two weeks. This significantly reduced the inflammation. Once the inflammation resolved, the participants mentioned lower levels of anxiety. However, what the researchers admit they did not consider during the study was the role of gender and adrenal gland hormones. However, there are other studies that have suggested a possible link between adrenal gland hormones and anxiety disorder [3].

The researchers are nevertheless optimistic about their findings and are confident that their study will open up new avenues for treatment of patients with anxiety. The treatment of anxiety becomes that much more effective when the endocrine system is taken into account, especially thyroid inflammation and it has been clearly established that anxiety is not a problem exclusively of the nervous system [3].

It should be noted here that this research has not been subjected to a peer review and has not featured in a medical journal. The sample size of the research was also very small and thus a large scale study needs to be done to come to any conclusions regarding the findings of the research [3].

The researchers are now gearing up for a much wider investigation of the role of the endocrine system in anxiety disorder and are planning to include both gender and the adrenal gland hormones to include estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, and progesterone which all play a role in anxiety disorders, especially in people with known anxiety and inflammation of thyroid gland [3].

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