Graves Disease And Stress

Last Updated on December 3, 2023 by Anna Baumann

Graves Disease and Stress

Autoimmune Disease occurs when our immune system produces antibodies that attack our body’s tissue. It’s not always clear what causes the immune system to misfire. But there seems to be a direct correlation between Graves Disease and stress.

When I look back over the five or so years before noticing my Graves Disease symptoms, I see a pattern of stressful events that, I think, may have triggered it.

A miscarriage

I got married in my early twenties. When we decided we were ready to start a family, we tried to get pregnant. After about three years, we figured something might be wrong. We made some appointments and I had every test that my OBGYN and Reproductive Endocrinologist could think of. Neither of them was able to find anything wrong with me, so we didn’t do any medical intervention.

When I was 28 I finally got pregnant. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage when I was almost 4 months along. At the time, I was told that isn’t uncommon for first pregnancies. And, that there was no reason why I wouldn’t do just fine the next time. I was almost 41 when the next time happened, so it came as more of a shock than anything else. Then, just as the shock wore off and I started believing I’d really be a Mom, I had another miscarriage.

So we didn’t get children, but we did get a great marriage. We always wanted a big family. But we both agree that even though things didn’t work out the way we planned, we’ve had a wonderful life together. For better or worse, I’m a lucky lady because I married my best friend.

Miscarriage mindfulness

A car accident

About a year after that last miscarriage I was at my desk at the dental office. I was just about to clock out for lunch when the phone rang. The person calling asked for me by my first and last name. Which was odd because our patients would only know me by my first name. But the caller wasn’t a patient. It was a chaplain at a nearby hospital, telling me that I needed to get to the ER right away because my husband was in a car crash.

I was told that Jim (my husband) fainted while driving on the highway. He was going about 55 MPH in the right lane. After he lost conciousness, he crossed three lanes of traffic and hit the cement median wall. Thank God, he survived with a fractured lower back and a totaled care.

After a week in the Critical Care Unit, they were unable to determine the reason for his temporary loss of consciousness. But they suspected it had something to do with his heart. Before releasing him, they implanted a small loop recorder to monitor him. And, they made a custom brace for his back injury.

At our first follow-up visit, his Cardiologist interrogated the loop recorder device and found a significant period of Atrial Fibrillation. This is most likely what happened on the day of the accident, and definitely what caused him to faint. The Cardiologist gave him several medications and said he couldn’t drive for at least six months. Which was okay because the Neurosurgeon kept him in his back brace for over nine months. Then there was physical therapy to get him moving without the brace. Overall he was home healing for almost two years.

It’s a miracle that Jim survived this. What he went through while he was healing was hard and horrible. But we got through it and he’s doing well! I’m just so thankful it’s behind us and that he made it through.


The death of a family member

Lucy was my Sister’s puppy. They got her when my newphews were 1 year old and 3 years old. From the day I met her, I felt an instant connection with her. I’ve always loved dogs. But with Lucy it was almost like we recognized each other. I can’t describe it any other way, but I know she felt it too.

Having a puppy plus two toddlers was way more than my Sister and Brother-in-law bargained for. Plus, Lucy was having trouble with potty training and anxiety. It wasn’t long before they felt they had to give her up. Since I adored her, I was the first person they asked about taking her. Jim wasn’t keen on having a dog. Mainly because we both work full time and aren’t home enough to care for one. But I couldn’t fathom her leaving my life completely, so he agreed that we could take her.

In her first week with us, we found out she had a Urinary Tract Infection. She was treated for it and was OK for a couple of weeks. But then she got another one. And then another. Eventually, our Vet diagnosed her with Kidney Dysplasia. Her kidneys never fully developed and this affected her whole body. Throughout her short life, she was prone to UTIs and Pancreatitis.

We managed her symptoms fairly well. She took several medications regularly and had a very strict diet, and going out routine. Her Vet bills were ever-present but she was the most loving, silly, adorable pup in the world, and Jim and I both fell completely in love with her.

Then one day her back legs stopped working and she wasn’t able to get food into her mouth or swallow. It was like her muscles stopped working. I took her to our vet and was sent to see a specialist. They told us she had Myesthenia Gravis and Megaesophagus. After three months of giving her Mestinon and trying to keep food and water down her, we lost her. She was just 2 1/2 years old.

Lucy’s death broke my heart. But even though I lost her, I wouldn’t trade one second of the time I got to spend with her. I was so blessed to get to have her in my life.


Tips for Living with Graves Disease and Stress

Each of those situations on its own was stressful. But since they all happened within the same three-year time span, I feel justified in saying that stress may have been a factor in triggering my Graves Disease. I believe we can only handle so much emotion before it affects us physically. The amazing thing is I didn’t realize how stressful it all was until I took the time to reflect back on it. While it happened, I just plowed right through.

Stress seems to be the main thing I struggle with in life. It’s a sneaky thing because most of the time, I don’t even realize it’s affecting me. Graves Disease is just one of several strange health conditions I’ve developed over the years. And, stress is a known trigger for all of them. 

I try to do things differently now so I don’t unknowingly build up stress that will resurface later in another way. Some of the things I do to manage life’s stress are below. I also do my best to keep my home and work lives organized so that I don’t unknowingly create my own stressful situations.

Physical self-care

  • Drink tea
  • Do yoga
  • Take walks
  • Sleep
  • Eat healthily
  • Plan and take a trip

Take care of your body so it has an easier time taking care of you.


  • Organizes our thoughts
  • Gives us something to reflect back on
  • A private place to vent and purge

And you reap all of the benefits of journaling even if you only write a few bullet points a day.


  • Gives your brain a rest by re-directing your thoughts
  • Offers an escape from where you are when you can’t physically leave
  • Sparks new ideas that help us in our real lives
  • Can be incredibly entertaining or an opportunity to learn something new
  • Forces us to sit and be quiet

Books are an amazing stress reducer. Even if you’ve never been big on reading, give it a try. Look for things you think you’ll enjoy and give yourself a half-hour a day to get started. It’s a very worthwhile hobby!

Think back to the years just before your first Graves Disease symptoms started and see what you can remember. Do you think a stressful event, or a series of stressful events, triggered the onset of your disease? Feel free to comment here so we can chat about it.

If you’d like to learn more about how chronic stress affects the thyroid, this is a great site to visit: Natural Endocrine Solutions

You can also join my FACEBOOK GROUP to 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.

Graves Disease Journals and Planners.

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  1. I lost my Dad and my very best friend over the course of 1.5yrs. My Dad passed away then 6mths later my friend began her cancer battle. She was only 41 when she died a year later. I started grieving her before she died, and was, and still am grieving my Dad. I was diagnosed with Graves in February of that year and my best friend died in June. Do you think these things triggered mine?

    1. Hi Ashley, I am so very sorry for your losses. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say for certain if the stress you’ve experienced caused you to get Graves Disease. But I would be very surprised if it wasn’t a factor. I hope you’re finding ways to cope with your grief and manage your stress. Take good care of yourself and God Bless You.

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