Last Updated on September 24, 2023 by Anna Baumann
It’s been my experience that Graves Disease and Anxiety go hand in hand. But most doctors don’t prepare us for it or even acknowledge it as a symptom of Graves Disease. It’s the old, “Your levels are in the normal range, so Graves can’t be causing it” thing. That frustrates me to no end! 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’re sure our symptoms aren’t Graves-related. I won’t rant on that here, because I rant on that here.
There are many symptoms of Anxiety, but some seem to be more common in people who have Graves.
Similar Symptoms of Graves Disease and Anxiety
We’re easily frightened.
For example, I’m afraid of things like quick movements, loud noises, and wind. Sometimes us Gravesters are accused of being overly dramatic because of how we react (or overreact) to things. As annoying as it is to other people, we get annoyed with ourselves. We know it doesn’t make sense, 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 cooperate. Our hearts race, our hands tremble, we sweat a lot and 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. On 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.
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 feel anxious!
What do we do about it?
Talk to your Doctor.
A lot of Graves patients take anti-anxiety medications along with their thyroid medications. Talk to your doctor and make the best decision for you. It’s sad that there’s still a stigma around taking medication for anxiety. Don’t let it stop you from feeling good.
‘Sometimes the strongest thing you can do is ask for help.’
Find your triggers and create your peace.
- I limit caffeine and sugar because being jittery makes me anxious.
- Herbal tea, long walks, and reading calm my mind.
- Pleasant scents and soft music without words soothe me.
- I went from working for a big corporation to a small family-sized office.
These things have helped me more than I can say. It takes some trial and error to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. You’ve got to be willing to do some honest self-reflection to identify what triggers your anxious feelings. Then take the time to find what calms your mind, and gives you peace. Do whatever you have to do to make them a permanent part of your life.
“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” ~Christopher Reeves
We don’t look sick. Graves and anxiety aren’t always visible. People might think we’re faking, or making more of it than it is. But we aren’t pretending. We’re not crazy and we’re not making it up. We are wonderful, beautiful people whose insides often feel like a towel being tossed around in a dryer. So try not to let words hurt you. People aren’t always being malicious. They just haven’t walked in our shoes, so they can’t know how we feel. 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.