Revised 2015

People with thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer and thyroid eye disease can often experience emotional and psychological symptoms as well as physical symptoms.

Emotional symptoms - over-activity

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Emotional symptoms - under-activity

  • Depression, low mood
  • Tearfulness
  • Difficulty enjoying things
  • Loss of appetite

Either over-activity or under-activity

  • Mood swings
  • Sleeping difficulties

Mental health symptoms (most often with thyroid under-activity)

  • Difficulties with concentration
  • Short-term memory lapses
  • Lack of interest and mental alertness

These symptoms are not specific to thyroid disorders, and can commonly occur in other medical conditions. Your doctor will need to carry out appropriate tests, including thyroid function tests, to confirm the diagnosis.


  • Abnormal thyroid hormone levels
  • Rapid changes in thyroid hormone levels
  • Treatment for side-effects: steroids and beta blockers
  • Stress in other areas of life
  • Changes in appearance caused by the thyroid disorder
  • Irregular taking of thyroid medication
  • Other illnesses


  • Rapid treatment to stabilise the thyroid disorder if present
  • Professional help for physical symptoms
  • Relaxation
  • Short-term psychotherapy
  • Occasionally anti-depressants are prescribed
  • Professional help from a doctor with expertise in psychological problems associated with a long-term physical illness

Long term outlook

  • Symptoms may take some time to settle initially
  • Most people recover fully and lead normal lives if a thyroid disorder is the cause

It is well recognised that thyroid problems often run in families and if family members are unwell they should be encouraged to discuss with their own GP whether thyroid testing is warranted.

If you have questions or concerns about your thyroid disorder, you should talk to your doctor or specialist as they will be best placed to advise you. You may also contact the British Thyroid Foundation for further information and support, or if you have any comments about the information contained in this leaflet.

The British Thyroid Foundation
The British Thyroid Foundation is a registered charity: England and Wales No 1006391, Scotland SC046037

Membership Information
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Endorsed by:

The British Thyroid Association - medical professionals encouraging the highest standards in patient care and research

The British Association of Endocrine and Thyroid Surgeons - the representative body of British surgeons who have a specialist interest in surgery of the endocrine glands (thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal)

First issued: 2008
Revised: 2011, 2015
Our literature is reviewed every two years and revised if necessary.

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