Is undiagnosed PTSD causing your chronic stress or fatigue with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism?

PTSD and high or low cortisol

PTSD high and low cortisolAre you chronically stressed out, chronically fatigued, or both? Are you careful about your diet and lifestyle but nothing works? You may want to consider whether post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) plays a role in your poor stress-handling ability. Untreated PTSD sets into motion metabolic consequences that raise the risk for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s.

Studies show PTSD alters the body’s ability to regulate cortisol, our primary stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. People with poor adrenal function suffer from usually either low cortisol or high cortisol.

Altered cortisol levels increase the risk for developing chronic conditions such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, chronic pain, or chronic inflammation.

More women suffer from PTSD than men

Not just war veterans suffer from PTSD. In fact, more women than men suffer from PTSD. Perhaps this is one reason significantly more women than men suffer from autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s as well.

Why? For one, more girls than boys suffer sexual abuse as children, predisposing women to more severe reactions to traumas later in life. Researchers also found that sexual trauma causes more emotional suffering and is more likely to contribute to a PTSD than other types of trauma.

Women are also biologically more prone to PTSD than men.

Are your stress hormones to high or too low?

Low cortisol causes low blood sugar, blacking out when standing up, weakness and fatigue, waking up at 3 or 4 a.m., depression, hypersensitivity, and an inability to cope with stress.

High cortisol causes symptoms of insomnia, not feeling rested after sleep, weight gain around the abdomen, anxiety, chronic stress, and hormonal imbalances.

Supporting adrenal function is fundamental to good health. The first place to start is with diet, as many cases of low or high cortisol are simply a matter of too much sugar and too many processed carbohydrates.

Undiagnosed immune reactions to foods, such as gluten, dairy, egg, and soy can trigger adrenal issues an autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s.

An undiagnosed and chronic parasitic, viral, or bacterial infection can take their toll on the body’s stress handling abilities and cause low or high cortisol.

And, of course, lifestyle factors affect adrenal function. Over exercising, over working, not getting enough sleep, or being in a stressful job or relationship can certainly tax your adrenals and lead to altered cortisol. All of these factors also contribute to autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

But if you have been addressed all those and been treated for your low thyroid function and low or high cortisol and Hashimoto’s symptoms persist, it’s time to investigate whether PTSD is a contributing factor.

Past traumas and even your parents’ traumas can cause poor adrenal function

Studies have shown that PTSD can cause low or high cortisol. An interesting finding is that people tend to have low cortisol if both parents suffer from PTSD. This is likely due to both the biological effects of PTSD as well as the child’s environment growing up.

Research has also found that low cortisol is more often associated with the PTSD symptoms of avoidance, withdrawal, and isolation, while high cortisol is associated with hyper arousal and re-experiencing traumatic events.

Cortisol plays a significant role in your ability to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. If you suspect you may have PTSD, it’s important to seek non-pharmaceutical treatments. Fortunately, PTSD is much studied these days and many treatment options exist. Contact me to learn more.

Joni Labbe

About Joni Labbe

Dr. Joni Labbe is a board-certified clinical nutritionist specializing in science-based nutrition with a focus on women's health issues. She has successfully helped pre-menopausal and menopausal women regain and maintain their health since 1995. Dr. Labbe is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Thyroid & Menopause Madness and It’s Not Just Menopause: It’s Your Thyroid. She is also a professional speaker, radio personality, fitness expert, and former host of “Healthier Way With Dr. Labbe.” Dr. Labbe is one of the country’s leading authorities on thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. Dr. Labbe has also authored numerous articles and blogs on health, nutrition, and thyroid health, as seen in Naturally Savvy, Thyroid Nation, and Fox News. She is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Doctor of Chiropractic, and has post graduate training in Functional Neurology, Functional Endocrinology, Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis, and earned a Diplomate and Fellow in Nutrition from the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

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