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Could Holiday Stress Impact Your Health?

Life gets complicated around the holidays; we tend to overbook our social schedules to squeeze in as many events as possible. Although it is intended to be fun, sometimes there is an underlying pressure to create the perfect holiday ambiance, which can cause more stress than enjoyment. sb10067060j-001

Stress can upset your thyroid gland in complicated and profound ways. New research shows that the effects of stress on your thyroid can be long-lasting and hinder your resilience (your ability to recover from trauma).

One study found that women who had experienced severe childhood trauma such as sexual abuse or exposure to violence were more likely than normal to have a low FT3/T4 ratio. This ratio is an indicator of how effectively the body is able to convert T4, the inactive form of thyroid, to T3, the active form. A low ratio may be due to decreased ability to convert to T3, which could explain low temperatures and low thyroid symptoms. This type of thyroid problem is not detected in the usual screening test, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).

Another study found that animals subjected to chronic, mild stress had widespread decreases in thyroid hormone receptor (alpha-1 mRNA) levels in their brains. This is the most abundant thyroid hormone receptor in the brain, and could cause localized deficiency of active thyroid hormone in brain cells. This, too, is a situation where the usual thyroid test, TSH, would not detect a problem.

And a third experiment found that induced hypothyroidism changed the way animals reacted to stress. It caused enhanced fear memory, delayed memory extinction and exacerbated spontaneous recovery of fear memory. Hypothyroidism caused them to experience more stress.

These research findings suggest that the interaction of low thyroid hormone function and stress can make both ailments worse.

If you are stressed out and having a hard time recovering from it, don’t simply wait and hope your body gets back to normal. Instead, take your body temperature. For complete directions on how to do this correctly, see How are Body Temperatures Measured? If it’s low (consistently below 98.5, or 36.94 C. but typically lower than 97.8 F, or 36.56 C), there is a good chance you have low metabolism due to low thyroid hormone function. You may have this despite normal TSH levels, and even if you are taking Synthroid or some other brand of T4. This condition is known as Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome.

You can help your body get back to normal by taking supplemental T3. This will normalize metabolism and body temperature and may help you recover from stress. It will help you produce the brain neurotransmitters you need to think clearly and stabilize mood. It can also help antidepressants work better. Your doctor can call us at 800.420.5801 to get more information about how to use T3, along with nutritional and herbal support for both thyroid and adrenal problems, and to discuss your individual case. Or you can use our Find a Practitioner search function to locate a WTS doctor in your area.


Montero-Pedrazuela A, Fernandez-Lamo I, Alieva M, et al. Adult-onset
hypothyroidism enhances fear memory and upregulates mineralocorticoid
and glucocorticoid receptors in the amygdala. PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26582.

Sinai C, Hirvikoski T, Nordström AL, et al. Hypothalamic pituitary thyroid
axis and exposure to interpersonal violence in childhood among women
with borderline personality disorder. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2014 May

Stein EJ, da Silveira Filho NG, Machado DC, et al. Chronic mild stress
induces widespread decreases in thyroid hormone alpha1 receptor mRNA
levels in brain–reversal by imipramine. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2009

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