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EndocrineWeb Community Advice

Does hyperthyroidism cause emotional instability?

From: Mario Fox - 5 years 34 weeks ago

Hello, all. My friend has hyperthyroidism. I'm a male and I've known her for close to a year. We've quasi-dated during this time. I'm interested in her, but she constantly flip-flops about me. Everything will be great, but once we reach a certain level of intimacy she will will decide that she is not interested in me romantically. She also becomes severely socially withdrawn. There will be times when I won't hear from her for weeks or up to a month. There have been times where we've made plans and she'll completely blow me off. After the periods of social withdrawal she will reach out to me as if nothing ever happened. Needless to say, it leaves me very confused and feeling hurt.
She takes medication for the disease, but I really don't think it's helping her. She frequently complains of symptoms like sore/hot throat, lack of sleep, anxiety, etc.

It's almost as if I'm dealing with two separate people: one is sweet, loving, caring, and fun while the other is inconsiderate, irritable, irrational, and rude. I should add that she has had trauma in her life due to a string of nasty love interests, including a narcissistic Ex who physically and emotionally abused her.

I'm getting the impression from my parents that they would prefer if I stopped spending time with her. However, I don't want to do that. I care about her very much and feel like I'm falling in love with her. I can't tell her that, though, because I know she can't handle it emotionally. I'm trying to decipher how much of her behavior is part of the disorder. I get mad at her when she treats me poorly, but I'm not sure if I should be mad at HER or at the DISEASE. I'm also trying to figure out how much of her behavior is due to her past trauma, and if the disease contributes to it or vice versa. When she's at baseline she's the ideal woman.

I would appreciate if somebody could help me understand the following questions:

-Is indecisiveness part of the disorder? For instance, the fact that she will invite me to a romantic place one day and then tell me there's no "spark" (almost literally) the next. I've also noticed her flip-flop in other areas like possible careers.
-Is the social withdrawal common?
-Is it possible to cycle between hyper and hypo symptoms?
-Is over-sensitivity part of the disorder?
-How should I address my concerns with her?
-Should I set boundaries of some kind to protect myself emotionally?

Thank you, anybody who takes the time to read and reply. It's greatly appreciated.

Do you find this discussion helpful?

2 Responses

Is this good advice?

Hey Mario, I have recently experienced something similar to your situation with someone I was seeing long distance. We had a very bad falling out during my last visit to see her over the holidays. I came to this forum to make a similar post to what you have posted here and found yours. I will watch this post and hopefully we will get some answers. If there is any way that you and I can communicate privately to exchange our stories this may also help us to find the answers.

Prior to my last visit, the girl I was seeing had suddenly started a job working on nightshift and began smoking a lot shortly thereafter. I don't think either of these are good for someone with hyperthyroid. Can somebody clarify that just two weeks on nightshift would make her moody, irrational, and anxious etc. I do recall that she was not sure if she should take the position because of the schedule and mentioned that it would/could mess up her condition, which was stable up to this point. Unfortunately, she lives in an area where there are not a lot of jobs and I really don't think she had much choice. The smoking worsens the condition as well, yes? If I had known what to expect I would have been better equipped to handle the situation that I walked into, unfortunately it was not until after that I began to think about it. She was quite cruel with me, and a complete opposite of the awesome girl that I knew prior. Any help would be great thanks.

Is this good advice?

Hi there, Mario - It's great that you are trying to get answers rather than judge your significant others emotional roller coaster. We need more understanding and patient people like you to understand.
I am not hyperthyroid, but hypo. Been so for 35 years now. However, I have experienced both extremes of hypo and hyper as my medication has sent me into hyperthyroidism for long periods of time. It’s a roller coaster ride most times. And going between hypo or hyper symptoms are not fun rides, either, for the one with the disease, or even those love ones around them.

As a significant other, it can be tough to give the support needed. For example, being hyper may cause a person to go into rages & emotional crying spells that can be difficult to stop; possibly lasting for hours. It can be tough not to take those times personally; to not think that the person is a mental case. And yes to your question, when a person is hyperactive [or hypo (meaning her TSH, T3, T4 levels are outside their optimal ranges)], a person can indeed be indecisive & withdraw socially. This is because, one day you feel okay, the next the whole world goes into a shadow. (The closest analogy I can give to a person who doesn't have this disorder - think of how you feel with a hangover after a night of drinking fun, the worse one you could ever have - but even more so) And if a person has been this way for years, they definitely know how people will react during the times they are not feeling well as it can be painful to see people withdraw or walk on tippy toes around you. In fact, being around someone who has an abusive tendency of reacting can make a person worse with withdrawing from others. This happened to me, as well, so I understand what you are saying about your significant other.

People with thyroid disorders need partners who are caring and patient people; who are secure with themselves & understand what they are up against. I believe it is healthy to keep boundaries with anyone, especially a person with this type of disorder. I also think it is important to help the person with the disorder to understand & know how to also set boundaries, too, if they don’t already. Since your significant other has aligned herself before with someone who reacted abusively, I am thinking she doesn’t understand what boundaries. If this is the case, I would recommend this book on that:

Just a note: the book is Christian based, however, I have found it to be one of the best books on what boundaries are and how to set them. The authors also have additional books that may be helpful as well.

Another thing to be aware of. It has recently been acknowledged that thyroid disorders can "mimic" mental disorders:

In fact, bi-polar disorder has been recently associated with thyroid issues -

This may be helpful for both you and your significant other to know as well & might answer some of your questions. However, if there is a background of abuse (either physical or emotional), a person also may have additional personal issues that a thyroid condition will only exaggerate. It will be important, then, that the person have some counseling, especially in learning about boundary setting. I have done this and it has helped me a great deal.

Other things someone with a thyroid disorder & a partner needs to be aware of is having a good diet and exercising. There are many books and blogs out there that go over this as well for people with thyroid disorders. For myself, I have found that it can help, especially feeling my best in the optimal range. But I have also had it where I was dieting and exercising & I still went out of range & felt awful. I am hypo, though, so it may be different with hyper.

Another thing I have found. I think each person is different with the disorder. Though labs may give what a normal range is supposed to be, it isn’t always so for every individual. There may be an occasional outlier. Other people with thyroid conditions may not have as much trouble (go with what the labs say) & can often not understand why others are complaining so much. However, doctors have only recently been understanding how important the thyroid is & are more and more treating a person based on how they feel, despite the lab results. I would recommend a doctor or endocrinologist that does this. Also, I would recommend if you do see differences in personality, to have your significant other see a doctor and have her levels checked. Changes in personality can relate to thyroid levels changing.

If you would like any additional information, I would also recommend this book: The Thyroid Solution by Ridha Arem -

I went almost twenty years not understanding that many of the things I had going on was because of my disorder. That is, until I read this book. It was a huge light in a dark tunnel in understanding.

I hope all this is helpful to you in understanding your significant others challenges & how best to help her. Good luck!