Anxiety and Depression

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board

When you have thyroid eye disease (TED), some symptoms might be invisible and affect your mental health. Pain, vision problems, and changes in physical appearance can all impact your emotional well-being. Knowing how TED can affect your mental health can help you better navigate the care you need.1

Coexisting conditions and TED

TED can occur with other conditions. Coexisting conditions are known as comorbidities. Comorbid illnesses can interact in ways that worsen both.

Anxiety and depression are common in those with TED. One study found that 36 percent of those with TED self-reported anxiety or depression. This number is likely much higher. Many people do not report mental health symptoms because of the stigma of mental illness.2

Anxiety and depression

Both anxiety disorders and depression interfere with daily life. Feeling anxious at times is normal. However, persistent, overwhelming, and uncontrolled worry or irrational dread describes anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States.3

Depression is also a common condition. Symptoms of depression include feeling:4

  • Sad
  • Hopeless
  • Discouraged
  • Disinterested
  • Unmotivated in life

Depression symptoms occur for more than 2 weeks. Research shows that 264 million people worldwide live with depression.4

Like anxiety, there are different types of depression disorders. However, depression and anxiety are not the same. People with depression might have symptoms similar to an anxiety disorder, such as:4

  • Problems sleeping
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability

Symptoms of both anxiety and depression often overlap, and treatment can be the same for many types.

How TED impacts mental health

TED is a disfiguring, long-term condition that affects your mental and physical health. One German study found that nearly half of the more than 100 people with TED surveyed reported emotional distress. Of those, 1 in 4 reported anxiety, and more than 2 in 10 reported depression.1

This finding is not unusual. For many people with TED, appearance changes greatly interfere with mental and social health. In another study, more than half reported a loss of self-confidence because of TED.1

The reality is, your face and eyes are usually the first features others notice. When TED changes the look of your eyes and face, your self-confidence can take a hit. This can ultimately lead to social isolation, anxiety, and depression.

Managing anxiety and depression

Managing anxiety and depression symptoms can help with your daily living and overall quality of life. Talk to your doctor or TED specialist about medicine and therapy options.

Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. You may find you need to try more than 1 thing to best treat your symptoms. In general, your mental health team may include different people or groups, including:1

  • General doctor
  • TED specialist
  • Endocrinologist, if you have thyroid problems
  • Mental health therapist or doctor
  • Support groups
  • Online communities or forums

Consider setting some daily goals. These can be as simple as finishing a household chore or sticking to a routine. Working toward a goal can help you live your best life while managing TED and mental health challenges. Once you get more confidence, you can start setting longer-term goals.

Eating a nutritious diet and exercising can help you achieve wellness. Diet and exercise do not cure depression or anxiety. However, eating healthy and moving more can promote a healthy lifestyle. This might help you better manage stress and anxiety.

Your mental wellness is a priority. Talk to your doctors about your mental health concerns just like you would mention physical symptoms. You and your doctor are a great team. Together, you can help find solutions to manage your symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

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