Updated on 14. November 2021 from ÁYIO-Q Redaktion
Reading time: approx. 4 minutes
We have known for a long time that hormones have a strong influence on the human mind (psyche). Among other things, hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy or menopause are often associated with psychological changes, including mood swings, anxiety or depression.1
In the last part of the series of articles on hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, we look at the effects of the thyroid hormones Triiodothyronine (T3) and Tetraiodothyronine (T4) on our psyche.
The life-sustaining power of metabolism
Metabolism is the driving force in our organism. On the one hand, it converts all the nutrients that our cells need to build and grow (anabolic metabolism). In addition, it provides the energy for all processes of life (catabolic metabolism). In a healthy person, there is a balance between the anabolic and catabolic metabolism.2
Four hormones are involved in metabolic regulation: somatotropin and anabolic peptides on the anabolic side; cortisol as well as the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 on the catabolic side. This concept is called basic regulation. It was first published in 1985 by Professor Dr Jürgen Schole and Dr Wolfgang Lutz. The scientists were able to show that regulation of the metabolism is only possible if sufficient amounts of all four hormones are present in our body cells.3
In hyperthyroidism, catabolic energy metabolism predominates, while in hypothyroidism the balance is shifted to the anabolic side towards build-up and storage.
Can excessive stress cause thyroid disease?
In the course of evolution, stress has proven to be beneficial because it ensures our survival. In danger, the heartbeat accelerates, the pupils become larger and the muscles tense up. These processes are instinctive and cannot be influenced by our will.
While in earlier times stress reactions were triggered by hard work, hostile attacks, cold or hunger, the situation today is completely different. Due to sensory overload, pressure to perform, lack of time as well as frequent conflicts in the professional and private environment, many people find themselves in a state of permanent stress.4
The body constantly releases stress hormones such as cortisol and the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, so that a catabolic metabolic state predominates. As a result of the chronic overload, the thyroid’s efficiency decreases.
Scientists have suspected a connection between stress and thyroid diseases for years. In particular, the development of hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis seems to be favoured by excessive stress.5
In a 2018 animal study, Chinese researchers demonstrated for the first time the effects of chronic stress on the thyroid gland: A 10-day period of uninterrupted stress led to a significant reduction in T3 and T4 in the blood of the rodents studied.6
How are hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis related to anxiety and depression?
Sometimes the psychological symptoms of thyroid disorders are in the foreground. Sometimes the underlying thyroid dysfunction is overlooked and depression is diagnosed instead. If psychological symptoms are present, the family doctor should always also check the laboratory values of the thyroid hormones.7
Scientists from the University of Greifswald conducted a clinical study with 2142 participants in 2015 and came to the following conclusion: “Our results prove that diagnosed untreated hypothyroidism is related to depression and anxiety, and diagnosed untreated hyperthyroidism is related to depression”8.
The situation is similar with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. A recent meta-analysis shows that Hashimoto’s patients have an increased risk of developing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
According to a research team from Nepal, treatment for thyroid disease should therefore include therapy for anxiety and depression.10
How a 97-year-old achieves top sporting performances with the power of his mind despite hypothyroidism and prostate cancer
A study from 2006 shows what incredible power the human mind has over the body. The subject of the research was a 97-year-old man suffering from hormonal dysfunction of the gonads (hypogonadism), prostate cancer, thrombosis and hypothyroidism. Despite his severe pre-existing conditions, he rides his bicycle about 5,000 kilometres a year and is also much fitter mentally than many middle-aged men.
How can someone with a disturbed hormone status and cancer achieve top athletic performance at this age? Scientists at the University of Shanghai investigated this question and examined the man thoroughly. They did not find a conclusive explanation for the enormous performance and attributed the phenomenon to the active lifestyle, a healthy microbiome in the gut and the extensive social contacts.11
It is much more likely, however, that the 97-year-old believes in himself and his ability. This enables him to trigger a placebo effect, which in turn influences the thyroid gland and metabolism.
What does this mean for you? Positive emotions such as life affirmation, contentment and feelings of happiness increase your health potential. On the other hand, if you doubt your physical and mental performance, this also worsens the starting situation for the thyroid gland.
For this reason, it is important to take personal responsibility. If you get existing anxiety disorders, depression and stress under control, this will also increase the likelihood of curing hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Further articles on hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s – The most common thyroid diseases.
- Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s – Causes and treatments.
- Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s – Minerals and vitamins support our thyroid.
 Hormone und Psyche, auf https://www.jens-keisinger.de, Access date 15.09.2021
 Ursinus L. The metabolism – The driving and life-sustaining force of the body. Paracelsus Magazine: Issue 4/2018, Access date 15.09.2021
 Regulation of cell metabolism in diagnostics and therapy of chronic diseases, at https://docplayer.org, Access date 15.09.2021
 Stress, auf https://www.internisten-im-netz.de, Access date 15.09.2021
 Stress und Schilddrüse, auf https://www.forum-schilddruese.de, Access date 15.09.2021
 Zhang J et al. Thyroid Dysfunction, Neurological Disorder and Immunosuppression as the Consequences of Long-term Combined Stress. Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 14;8(1):4552.
 The thyroid can make the soul sick, at https://biosyn.de, Access date 15.09.2021
 Ittermann T et al. Diagnosed thyroid disorders are associated with depression and anxiety. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2015 Sep;50(9):1417-25.
 Siegmann EM et al. Association of Depression and Anxiety Disorders With Autoimmune Thyroiditis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 Jun 1;75(6):577-584.
 Gorkhali B et al. Anxiety and Depression among Patients with Thyroid Function Disorders. J Nepal Health Res Counc. 2020 Nov 13;18(3):373-378.
 Cheng S et al. What Makes a 97-Year-Old Man Cycle 5,000 km a Year? Gerontology 2016;62(5):508-12.