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Effects of Stress on Thyroid – Everything U Need to Know

Dr Subhash K Wangnoo

M.D. DM (Endo.), FRCP (London), FACE (USA)

3 min read


Modern life and stress go side by side. Be it adults, children or old, everyone is susceptible to the ugly forms of stress. Studies say that the top three reasons of stress include poor health, work and money. Also, the constant obsession for perfection, competition, social standards leads to stress. This affects personal health.

When we are stressed, our heart beats faster, and the nervous system releases cortisol, noradrenaline, and adrenaline—the stress hormones. The stress hormones affect respiratory, immune, endocrine, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems. Our muscles get stiffened up. The shoulder joints, neck joints and head undergo an ache.

Stress worsens thyroid disorders. While stress alone does not cause thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, it worsens the underlying problems. Stress makes the thyroid gland to work even harder. The extra cortisol created under stress pushes the thyroid gland to produce more amounts of thyroid hormone.

Stress causes the thyroid gland to undergo a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune thyroid condition which causes chronic inflammation in the thyroid. The stress compels the thyroid gland to produce low T3, T4, and TSH hormones responsible for metabolic activities. The stress can increase the steroid level in the body which also directly impacts the thyroid function. Stress impairs the carbohydrate metabolism due to the increased insulin resistance.

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Stress can be brought down by adopting changes in lifestyle. The change in lifestyle includes altering the way we eat, exercise, sleep, recreate, and study.


“The top three reasons for stress include poor health, work, and money. Deal with, and manage these aspects of UR life in healthy ways.”


Though the gamut is large, here are some of the basic ways we can inculcate to reduce stress.

Concentrate on the stretches: Different parts of the body undergo tension during stress. Doing joint stretches and strength-building exercises helps to gain back control on the body and lessen the stress.

Train to gain balance: Balance training is all about controlling the movement and create a stable body posture. Doing yoga, pilates are a part of balance training. Regular practice of these activities prevent falls, injuries. The balance in body enables stress-reduction.

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Go for a balanced diet: A balanced diet is the solid foundation to improve well-being. Eating healthy lowers the negative effects of stress. Try inculcating a combination of nuts, fruits, high fiber cereals to cut down the levels of stress hormones in the body.

Be consistent with your sleep schedule: The internal clock of the body is connected to the sleep schedules. Maintaining a regular time to wake up and sleep helps set a circadian rhythm and minimize stress levels.

The side-effects of stress also include hormonal imbalance and weight gain. The hormones work closely with the way we feel. Depression and stress effects the endocrine system that releases the hormones. Therefore, it is possible that a stress can influence PMS, menopause, perimenopause and other menstruation-related problems.

Stress also causes to gain weight. When the body is under stress, it causes cravings for unhealthy food. The increase in appetite and decrease in metabolism effects the rate of fat burning. Over the time, the fat deposits result in excess of weight.

It is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that has an umbrella of wellness initiatives such as positive thinking, yoga, meditation, walking, and a healthy diet. Practice these habits to overcome mental stress.