Graves Disease and Anxiety

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It’s been my experience that Graves Disease and Anxiety go hand in hand. Most doctors don’t prepare us for this or even acknowledge it. It’s the old, ‘Your levels are normal so Graves can’t be causing it’ thing. That always confuses me. They tell us that even when we get our levels under control or have our thyroid removed or radiated, we’ll have Graves Disease for the rest of our lives. Yet when we complain of something that can’t be measured by a blood draw, they tell us our symptoms must be related to something else. Makes no sense!

While tons of people are effected by anxiety, there are some aspects of it that seem to be more common in people who have Graves.

We fear random things that are not at all scary.

For example, I fear things like quick movements, loud music and wind. Sometimes us Gravesters are accused of being overly dramatic because of how we react to things. As annoying as it is to other people, we get annoyed with ourselves because we know we shouldn’t be so easily frightened. But we really can’t help it.

Our physical symptoms mimic anxiety.

Even when our thyroid hormone levels are ‘in the normal range’, our bodies don’t always cooperate. Our hearts race, our hands tremble, we sweat a lot and we can’t sleep. These are all Graves symptoms that are also physical signs of anxiety. Because of Graves, our fight or flight hormones are always flowing. So our physical state causes us to feel emotionally anxious.

Our anxiety is mistaken for impatience and irritability.

We always feel like something is just off. Some days all of our joints ache. Other days we’re nauseous from a nervous stomach, even though we have no idea what we’re nervous about. Feeling anxious and sick all the time is exhausting. We’re just so done with it that we don’t think before we speak. We’ll just say the first things that pop into our heads before it’s gone through our ‘nice filter’. We don’t mean to be mean, but it does come out that way.

So why does this happen?

When we’re first diagnosed, we’re put on anti-thyroid drugs to slow things down. It usually works at least a little but it’s hard to regulate. The hope is that we’ll go into remission, but that doesn’t always happen. And even if it does, sometimes it doesn’t last very long.

Once our thyroid is gone or radiated, we’re put on drugs to speed things back up. Doctors claim it’s easier to manage these. But good luck finding the perfect dose. We’re either back to trembling with a racing heart or falling asleep standing up.

The thyroid affects every single cell and system in our body. So it makes sense that everything goes completely haywire when it’s either under attack or gone altogether. It’s really no wonder that we’re feeling anxious!

So what do we do about it?

Talk to your Doctor.

A lot of Graves patients take anti-anxiety medications along with their thyroid medications. Ask your doctor if this would be the best thing for you.

‘Sometimes the strongest thing you can do, is ask for help.’

Embrace the things that give you peace and lose the things that don’t.

I dropped caffeine and reduced sugar. Herbal tea, long walks, and reading are some of my most favorite things. Pleasant scents soothe me. I went from working in a big corporate office to a small family sized one. All of these things help me feel less anxious. Find the things that give you peace, and do whatever you have to do, to make them a permanent part of your every day life.

‘Once you choose hope, anything is possible.’ ~Christopher Reeves

Don’t listen to the haters.

We don’t look sick. So sometimes people don’t believe that we truly feel sick. We might be told that we’re imagining things or that we’re lazy. Or, ‘If you just stop thinking about it you’ll feel better.’ But Graves isn’t a pretend disease. We’re not lazy and we’re not crazy. We are wonderful, beautiful people. So try not to let words hurt you. People aren’t always being malicious. They just haven’t walked in our shoes so they don’t know any better.

‘The greatest prison people live in, is the fear of what other people think.’

Are you living with Graves Disease and anxiety? Comment below if you’d like to share your experience. You can also join my FACEBOOK GROUP to get support and chat with fellow Gravesters.

 

Disclaimer: This post is based on my own personal experience. It is not intended as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or medical condition.

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