The Thyroid Tango Gone Out of Tune – Finding Harmony in the Face of Stress(Adrenaline)

January 13, 2024by Dr. S. F. Czar0

Case Study: 

Patient: Maria, a 28-year-old marketing professional experiencing fatigue, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating despite adequate sleep and a healthy diet.

Presenting Symptoms:
  • Persistent fatigue and low energy, interfere with daily tasks.
  • Unexplained weight gain despite unchanged dietary habits.
  • Difficulty concentrating and retaining information at work.
  • Increased anxiety and mood swings, particularly during periods of high stress.
  • Intolerance to cold, often feeling chilly indoors.
  • Dry skin and hair, suggesting possible hormonal imbalance.
Medical History:
  • No previous diagnoses of thyroid or other chronic conditions.
  • Family history of autoimmune disorders, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Self-reported high levels of work-related stress and anxiety.
Physical Examination:
  • Slightly elevated heart rate despite being at rest.
  • Mild dry skin and hair.
Laboratory Tests:
  • Baseline TSH: Slightly elevated, suggesting possible thyroid dysfunction.
  • Free T4: Within normal range.
  • Free T3: Significantly below the normal range.
  • TSH receptor antibodies: Negative, ruling out Graves’ disease as a cause.
  • Cortisol (morning): Slightly elevated, suggestive of chronic stress response.
  • Electrolytes and blood sugar: Within normal range.

Subclinical hypothyroidism with possible stress-induced T3 suppression.

  • Initial focus on stress management techniques, including mindfulness meditation and yoga, to address the elevated cortisol levels and potentially reduce T3 suppression.
  • Regular monitoring of thyroid hormone levels (TSH, free T4, free T3) and cortisol levels to assess response to stress management and evaluate the need for further intervention.
  • Dietary adjustments to support thyroid function, including adequate intake of iodine, selenium, and zinc.
  • Regular exercise promotes overall well-being and potentially improves thyroid hormone sensitivity.
  • Consideration of low-dose T3 medication if stress management and lifestyle modifications prove insufficient to alleviate symptoms and restore optimal thyroid function.
Recommended Tests:
  • Adrenaline levels: Measuring adrenaline levels could provide further insight into the role of stress in suppressing T3 production.
  • Thyroid ultrasound: Although negative for antibodies, an ultrasound could rule out any structural abnormalities in the thyroid gland.
  • Comprehensive stress assessment: A more detailed evaluation of stress levels and coping mechanisms could personalize the stress management approach.


Maria’s case exemplifies the complex interplay between stress, adrenaline, and thyroid hormones. While her TSH levels suggest subclinical hypothyroidism, the low free T3 and elevated cortisol point towards a stress-induced suppression of T3 conversion. The case highlights the importance of considering both thyroid function and stress levels when evaluating symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating. By focusing on stress management, lifestyle modifications, and personalized treatment options, Maria can potentially restore hormonal balance and reclaim her energy and cognitive well-being.

Note: This case study is for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis.

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