Being diagnosed with hypothyroidism usually requires a rather steep learning curve for the patients, and it can also create one for friends and family members as well. If you know someone who is dealing with thyroid disease, they will need your support more than you know.
Thyroid disease affects so many functions of a person’s body and also their mind. Even though it’s not a disease you can see, it’s very real and can present many challenges to the patient. Your love and support can make an enormous difference in helping patients cope with their symptoms on a daily basis.
Every patient’s experience will be different. But having a friendly and understanding ear to listen, and a helping hand when it’s needed, can help to give your loved ones the support they need.
5 things friends & family need to know about hypothyroidism
1. It’s Not All in Their Head
A common myth about hypothyroidism is that it’s all in the patient’s head or they’re just being lazy. They just need to snap out of it and get back to normal. This is simply not true.
Most patients probably wish it were that easy though. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are very real and affect many aspects of a person’s life on a daily basis.
In addition to physical symptoms such as fatigue, joint and muscle pain, and weight gain, there are a host of mental and mood issues that can affect thyroid patients as well. Symptoms such as brain fog, anxiety, and depression are very common.
Symptoms can vary from person to person and there’s no set formula that will help everyone. But there is hope and it’s possible to recover and feel well again. Having the support of friends and family is a key component in that recovery. Listening when they need to talk or helping when they need a hand can go a long way in helping thyroid patients heal.
2. Thyroid Disease is Not Always Easy to Treat
Many times, a doctor will prescribe medicine based on an incomplete blood test and think that will solve all of the patient’s problems. In most cases, it won’t. Medicine can often be just the first step in feeling better again. Once a patient finds the medication that helps her, she will probably need to focus on a few other areas until she starts to feel even better.
Nutrition can play a key role in helping a thyroid patient to recover. Many times, nutritional deficiencies and food intolerances will have developed along with thyroid problems. Whether working with a nutritionist or figuring it out on her own, it will take time for your loved one to find the best foods for her health.
Finding the right doctor is also a key to getting well. If your loved one’s doctor doesn’t listen to her or dismisses her concerns, she likely won’t get better very quickly. Finding a thyroid doctor or program where they treat the person and not just the numbers on the thyroid lab results is key.
3. There Will Be Good and Bad Days
Many factors go into how a person with thyroid disease feels from day-to-day. Even when you do everything right and work to keep things in balance, surprises can pop up at any time.
Stress or lack of sleep can cause bad days. Even when you try to keep stress low, it can sneak up on you at any time.
Nutrition typically plays a key role in thyroid health and can determine how a person will feel each day. If a healthy diet rich in the nutrients needed for thyroid health is followed, it can make a world of difference.
4. Don’t Take It Personally If They Withdraw at Times
For many reasons, socializing may become more difficult for thyroid patients. People may withdraw more frequently from previous activities due to feeling tired or possibly feeling uncomfortable in a crowd.
Anxiety and depression can play a part in this, as well as nutrition. When a thyroid patient is working toward recovery, she will need to eat healthy and possibly avoid common foods, making it difficult to eat out at restaurants.
You shouldn’t take it personally or feel they are rejecting you if they decide to stay home more than in the past. They may need to simply for their health and well-being.
5. Thyroid Patients Need Hope and Encouragement
Getting diagnosed with hypothyroidism changes a person’s life in profound ways. In addition to finding good care, they need support from friends and family. Being there to listen or spending time with them to get their mind off things for a few hours can be a tremendous help.
Thyroid patients often feel misunderstood or not heard. And to be fair, until you or someone close to you is diagnosed, it can be a difficult disease to understand. But it’s very real and needs real attention. And if the patient gets good treatment plus compassionate care and support from loved ones, that will go a long way to helping her heal and thrive.