I apologize in advance for this being so long, but I want to get my full story across in case anyone can relate. I have not been feeling well for almost a year now. Last June, I went through a bout of severe anxiety that quickly morphed into depression. At the same time, I was going through severe emotional trauma (loss of three close family members and dealing with end of life decisions). Unable to handle the depression any longer, I saw my primary care physician who ran a full blood workup (including a thyroid panel) in October, assured me everything was normal and suggested I begin antidepressant treatment. Out of sheer desperation I agreed. It's now almost a year later and I'm feeling no better. The antidepressant didn't touch my depression, and in fact, I'm feeling slightly BETTER since I tapered myself off it five weeks ago. So I've recently been reading up on hypothyroidism and I have many of the symptoms: depression, fatigue, cold hands, drier hair (although no hair loss that I can notice), low heart rate (often 56-58 resting, but I'm in pretty good aerobic shape), lack of appetite yet I haven't dropped a single pound despite less eating, hip pain (which interestingly enough only bothers me at night when I'm in bed but wakes me often), digestive problems (but I've been written off as having IBS that's aggravated by stress), no constipation of yet but a lot of excess gas, limited sweating.
I guess my question is this. Even though my thyroid levels were (supposedly) normal in October, would you recommend that I have them retested? I read somewhere that stress (like I was going through at the time) can actually lower your thyroid readings. If that's the case, then is it possible I had normal readings when under normal circumstances they would have been high? Would you recommend I seek out an endocrinologist this time around as opposed to my PCP? How does one find a reputable endo? I'm in a very rural area with limited choices in my insurance plan. Thanks in advance for the advice.
By any chance can you get or do you have the test results? If you have them post them with the ranges for us. If you don't call you PCP and get the results with the ranges. Many drs will call your thyroid results "normal" when they are in range. But, being in range does not mean all is fine. The range with thyroid is a gauge and where in that gauge your level is makes a world of difference.
Stress can affect the thyroid. You have many symptoms that can be associated with thryoid. We can tell you more though if we see the test results.
Unfortunately, I do not have the exact numbers. What I do know is that my values fell within the "normal" range (I spoke to my doctor about this on the phone). But I also just checked my lab paperwork and only my TSH and Thyroxine (T4) Free, Direct was checked. Would these two values be enough to rule out problems?
Last edited by anxiousagain; 04-30-2007 at 04:15 PM.
The two lab tests you mentioned will be helpful, but no, they alone probably will not conclusively rule out possible hypothyroidism. You most likely need a TSH, an FT4, and an FT3 test. I was formally diagnosed as hypothyroid a bit over 4 years ago, and likely was hypo but undiagnosed for a quite while prior to that. I am no expert, but have plenty of experience with my own personal thyroid journey.
I would recommend that you do as much research as you possibly can about thyroid disorders. The more knowledge you have the better you can make decisions about your health care. Start at your public library for any books, professional medical journals etc. that you can find about thyroid disorders. Since you are in a rural area your library selections may be limited, but it is certainly worth a try. If you are unable to get any information from a library, many of us here recommend the book "Thyroid for Dummies" as a starting place to begin learning all you can. You can purchase it at most of the large chain bookstores, or if you do not have any of those near you, I am certain it can purchased on-line.
You have a right to know what your lab results were. And recieve copies of them. So as not to make my doctor seem like I am checking up on him, I usually tell him I keep a file for each member of the family with any medical results in case of emergency, thus may I please have a copy for my records.
Actually I do keep medical records for each family member, but not that detailed... Once you have the actual results you can post here and many of the real experts of the board can help you to interpret them.
Finding a doctor is always difficult. I'd stick with your PCP for now, unless he is not able to help you. Many endos are no better at treating thyroid disorders that a PCP is. If you are able to communicate clearly, and express your needs comfortably to your PCP, I'd continue that route for now. If you have difficulty getting treatment from your PCP, then it may be time to make a change.
I have also lost family members in a very close time frame. I lost both of my parents within 6 months of each other, and my father-in-law just 18 months later. All on top of having a newborn to care for, moving to a new home, and being the main breadwinner for my family. (my husband was in the start-up period of his own business at the time). It's a long time ago now, but not an experience I would recommend to anyone. Though it is years behind me now, I would never again want to deal with the stress involved, the sadness, anxiety, depression; and for me, the overwhelming sense of inadequacy in my inability to stop it. I know now it's just not "getting over it" and "you just need to get on with your life". It's offensive when people (and doctors) treat you like your just "going through a tough time", "this too will pass" etc. etc etc. blah, blah, blah.
I did seek grief counseling for about a 6 month period of time and it really helped. I didn't realize all the things I was grieving about, and how my emotions were layered one on top of another until I was an emotional mess. The counselor helped me to sort out each of my feelings, allow time to recognize/understand/grieve each emotion, and helped me to move on from grief to healing. I had some problems with feeling guilty if I wasn't grieving, I felt gulity for trying to be happy again. The counselor helpe me to understand that I was feeling that if I stopped grieving, I would "loose" them all over again. Subconsciously, I felt that if I stopped being sad I would loose them all over again. The sadness I had was all I had left. Within about 6 months I no longer needed the counseling, and though I missed my loved ones, I was able to let go of the sadness.
I don't know if your situation is anything at all like mine. But thought I would share my experiences with you just in case it could help you. I would encourage you to continue to seeking answers to possible thyroid problems; along with seeking help with emotional health following the loss of loved ones. The burdens of making decisions you probably would never voluntarily make, the stress of resolving legal issues following a death, sorting through belongings, etc. sucks the life right out of you. Both a thyroid disorder and the emotional stress you have recently experienced will exacerbate each other. My heart goes out to you, you've had your share of challenges!
Best of luck to you as you try to find health again. Please keep us posted. We really do care on this board. You've found friends!
I would suggest you also get antibody testing done. If your levels are falling within normal range but you have symptoms then you may have thyroid antibodies.
Keep in mind a TSH above 2 with symptoms is suspect for a thyroid problem. So if by chance you remember what your TSH was that may tell a bit.
i definitely would request another blood test. I went through a very similar experience. I lost my sister to cancer and i was emotionally a wreck, depressed, anxiety, neck was hurting me, etc... i kept going to the dr with my symptoms, blood kept coming up fine, he gave me xanax and a phone number for a therapist. I suffered for quiet a while just thinking it was all anxiety. Finally a few months later i had another blood test and this time i tested positive for antibodies, tsh of 79. Endo put me on meds and i have not needed a xanax since. What a relief. So keep asking for blood tests every few months. I heard some times it doesn't show in your blood for a while.
I just wanted to thank everyone who took the time to reply to me (especially those who shared similar losses as to what I've been going through--I will post individual responses to all of you when I have more time.) I know I have situational issues that could be causing some of my symptoms and I have considered counseling as well. However, my depression problems were beginning before the emotional upheaval began and there is no plausible explanation for going almost a year averaging about 1100 calories per day and not losing any weight. Last time I didn't eat well, I lost 20 pounds in a few months' time.
In any event, some of you asked about my lab numbers. I don't have the ones from October yet (and will probably just get them retested since I think my stress levels probably skewed them anyway) but I did find my labwork from 5 years ago. At the time, my TSH was 0.77 (quite in the low normal range). So I have a new question. If my levels have risen since then (even if they are still normal), would that be an indication that my thyroid is starting to malfunction?
At the time, my TSH was 0.77 (quite in the low normal range). So I have a new question. If my levels have risen since then (even if they are still normal), would that be an indication that my thyroid is starting to malfunction?
I'd say if your TSH is now above 2 then there is a good chance, with the symptoms, that your thyroid may not be functioning fully. The numbers that would tell the most would be the Free levels and antibody testing.