3. You’re losing your hair or your weight is fluctuating a lot. Stress can definitely contribute to thyroid problems, and, according to Svetlana Kogan, MD, the opposite is also true: a thyroid condition can cause mental health issues. “Thyroid hormones are essential for proper mental functioning and emotional wellness,” instructs Dr. Kogan, explaining that when a thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism), patients could gain weight or notice their hair is thinning, as well as suffer from depression. By the same token, she says, people with overactive thyroids (hyperthyroidism), who often experience weight loss and massive appetite, exhibit some degree of psychosis. “Everyone with these thyroid-related conditions should be screened for mental illness,” Dr. Kogan encourages.
4. You’re sick ALL the time. We hope you’ve never been this overextended, but if you havesuffered from extreme stress, you may have gotten a headache, felt nauseated, or just had super-low energy. But did you know the stress you experience may actually be breaking down your immune system? “Recent research has shown that chronic stress is associated with the body having difficulty regulating the inflammatory response,” notes Linda Sacco, PhD, a licensed clinical social worker and VP of behavioral health services at Talkspace. “Inflammation is partly regulated by cortisol and if cortisol is unable to serve its function, it can’t assist in controlling the inflammation. The immune system can then become immune to cortisol, and various illnesses — such as frequent colds and infections — develop more frequently.” So Emergen-C and hand sanitizer may not be the answer when you find yourself getting hit with cold after cold. After you’ve been checked out by a doc, Dr. Sacco recommends setting up an appointment with a therapist: “Therapy can help to uncover and address the underlying causes of the distress, which may decrease the frequent illnesses.”