Note: The text below is a transcription from the video above. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
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“Can Hashimoto’s cause anxiety?” Oh, yeah. Hashimoto’s and anxiety are like this.
It’s my position, I practice functional neurology. I’ve been in functional medicine practically from the beginning of functional medicine. That, anxiety is not a mental disorder. Now everybody’s talking about the HPA axis and the over-firing of the amygdala. That’s great. We’ve been talking about it for 30 years or whatever it is in the functional neurology world. Basically, anxiety is a fear response. It’s actually a survival response.
Without crossing philosophical or spiritual or religious lines or something, there was a point in time where we know that cavemen, for example, were out there in the wild and this was their brain stem, reptile brain, original brain, brainstem response was they saw something that was a bear, they had to run from it. This is the response that developed in the fear center of your brain. It’s called the fight-flight syndrome. You’re very familiar with it, I’m sure. You’re either going to fight or you’re going to flee. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s not designed to be engaged 24 hours a day. It’s designed to only be engaged occasionally. But anxiety, there’s a lot of things that bring our threshold down, especially in this society, down to where that threshold is so low for us to set it off. A lot of it’s physiological, some of it’s lifestyle. It’s just a lot hitting our brains very consistently or hitting our physiology very consistently that brings it down.
That’s the setup. When I refer to physiology that can affect your brain and cause anxiety, Hashimoto’s is right up there. Blood sugar’s a big one, probably bigger. But, if somebody tells me they have anxiety, my brain’s like, “Check your thyroid.” “Oh no, no, I don’t have a thyroid problem.” Like, “Check your frigging thyroid, will you?” Because, I rarely… Now, I have a unique patient population granted, but I rarely have someone who come in here who doesn’t have anxiety. I treat chronic pain. I treat chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic gut problems. That’s what I treat.
At least 70 to 75% of those patients have autoimmune thyroid disease. And, they all have anxiety. So, I’m not saying it’s the only thing that causes it, but here’s what happens. Thyroid has what’s called receptor sites in every single cell in your body, everyone, trillions of cells. It’s the only thing… Well, it’s not the only one, but it’s the most sensitive one that has all these receptor sites in every single cell in your body.
It controls your energy. If you have good thyroid, you have good energy. If you have low thyroid, you’re going to have low energy. There are other things that can contribute to this, but you have low thyroid. You’re going to have low energy. If you have hyperthyroid, you’re going to have hyper energy because the thyroid hormone is one of the major factors that controls that. It has some effects on your temperature as well, cold hands and feet if your thyroids low and so on and so forth.
The point is, it also has that same effect on your brain. If you have low thyroid, it’s going to contribute to depression. If you have high thyroid, it’s going to contribute to anxiety. How does it do that, in many different ways. If you get Hashimoto’s, and you have Hashimoto’s and you get an attack on your thyroid, many things can happen depending on what’s being attacked. If the thyroid enzyme that makes your thyroid hormone gets attacked, you start making more thyroid hormone from that mechanism. If your thyroid tissue is getting attacked, then your thyroid tissue starts dumping out thyroid hormone T3 and T4 into your bloodstream. That’s too much into your bloodstream.
And, if both of them get attacked, you’re getting anxiety. And how that works is, you have this fight-flight mechanism and one of the things that the fight-flight mechanism… Well, a couple of things that the fight-flight mechanism needs to be strong and only occur when you are in danger, it needs proper blood sugar, not blood sugar going like this. It needs proper oxygen for those of you who are like… your sleep apnea. You have COPD or things of that nature. You’re not getting enough oxygen there. It needs proper essential fatty acids, the fish oils. But, it needs no inflammation, like no, none.
Well, when you get this attack on your thyroid, some of you will even get an increase where your thyroid will grow, and it’ll get tender to the touch. But even before it gets to that, you’re creating massive inflammation. Your thyroid completely annihilates your frontal lobe and now they’re saying most of your brain. They’re now starting to say the inflammation from thyroid is what’s actually causing many of these inner ear problems that are BPPV and these inflammatory diseases that hit the inside mechanisms of your ear. And, they look in there and can’t see anything. It floods your whole brain.
When that anxiety goes up, your threshold for your brain to be able to stop the fight-flight mechanism goes way down. The other thing it does, I just said it, it decreases blood supply to your brain. So, it increases inflammation, decreases blood supply. And, in a normal brain, you see something that’s dangerous, slightly dangerous, mildly dangerous, or something like that and maybe get some butterflies or maybe go, “Man, that person over there doesn’t look too safe to me. Maybe I should start going in the other direction.” Maybe, you get a little butterflies and you walk about a block and it goes away.
But when your threshold is here, your fear center, the amygdala is supposed to be getting shut down by two parts of your brain. This frontal lobe that I just mentioned and cerebellum, both of them are massively affected by too much thyroid hormone. The threshold goes down. The fail save mechanisms that are supposed to shut it off don’t work. Next thing you know, boom, anxiety, and I’ll even take it one further panic attacks.
So, Hashimoto’s can be a huge player, by my observations in my patient population, it’s a huge player in at least 70, 75% of people who come in. Now again, I have a special patient population, so I don’t know how to compute that to a wider patient population who doesn’t have autoimmune thyroid disease or autoimmune disease in general or chronic conditions. But, my guess is it’s probably way up there. It’s probably in the 35, 40, 45, 50% range.
Again, when somebody tells me, “I have anxiety,’ it’s like, “Check your thyroid, check your thyroid, find out if you have autoimmune thyroid disease because if you have that and you’re trying Xanax and you’re trying Prozac, and you’re doing all this other stuff, you’re going to be taking that stuff forever. When the problem is actually to figure out how to get your immune response against your thyroid under control.” So, the answer is, “yes,” autoimmune thyroid disease can be a huge, huge… If it’s there, you’re going to have anxiety. Let’s just put it that way. If you have autoimmune thyroid disease, you’re going to have anxiety to a certain degree. So, yeah, it’s definitely connected.