Sensitivity and the Thyroid

One of the very first things my doctor informed me of was that over 90% of her patients with an autoimmune condition were highly sensitive. That comment stuck with me for a long time and encouraged me to dig a little more and do some of my own research.

It turned out that I too was a highly sensitive person. To be honest I kind of always knew but had never correlated this with my health before and found it intriguing, but first for those who have never pondered the idea that you too might be a HSP let me discuss a little more some of the common traits that I and others have to varying levels.

My ability to pick up on others moods and emotions and be affected by them is a big one for me! (I have since learned to observe not absorb!) I can even pick up on moods, emotions and intentions on social media just by scrolling through a news feed, which I find can be draining more often than not. Feeling uneasy or overwhelmed in busy or overcrowded places. Sensitive to bright lights or noise, fabrics and strong smells. Easily rattled when I have a lot to do in a short space of time. Avoiding violent movies, news programs etc.

These are just a few of the traits of a HSP and that I recognised in myself. My ability to feel at a deeper level and to see subtleties that others may not even register, in any given environment was another one. Is this you too? In school, you wanted to be in the clique, but you could not tolerate endless small talks or shallow relationships. Even as an adult small talk feels so false and intolerable.  

At work, you want the authorities to recognise you, but your soul does not compromise on depth, authenticity and connections. You are most likely a deep thinker, an intuitive feeler, and an extraordinary observer. You are prone to existential depression and anxiety, but you also know beauty and rapture. When art or music moves you, you are flooded with waves of joy and ecstasy. As a natural empath, you have a gift. Being sensitive and intense is not an illness- in fact, it often points to intelligence, talents or creativity.So how does this link to the thyroid and/or autoimmune disorders?

Harvard developmental psychologist Jerome Kagan was amongst the first scholars to examine sensitivity as a brain difference. In Kagan’s studies of infants, he found that a group of infants are more aroused and distressed by novel stimuli— a stranger coming into the room, a noxious smell. To these cautious infants, any new situation is a potential threat. 

On closer examination, sensitive infants have different biochemical reactions when exposed to stress. Their system secretes higher levels of norepinephrine (our brain’s version of adrenaline) and stress hormones like cortisol. In other words, they have a fear system that is more active than most.

Since the regions of the brain that receive signals for potential threats are extra reactive, these children are not geared to process a wide range of sensations at a single moment. Even as adults, they are more vulnerable to stress-related disease, chronic pain and fatigue, migraine headaches, and environmental stimuli ranging from smell, sight, sound to electromagnetic influences.

We are easily overwhelmed by our surroundings, the accumulation of toxins, bacteria or viruses, chemical irritants, emotional, environmental irritants and daily stress trigger hypersensitivity of the immune system, leaving us more susceptible to develop a disease than the rest of the population.

Many autoimmune disorders appear due to emotions that overwhelm the nervous-sensory system. Unresolved emotions have the power to trigger chemical responses in the body, which impact our immune systems.

This is why it is so important when it comes to healing that we face these unresolved traumas and or grievances in our lives in order to free ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally from these trapped emotions.

“Sometimes I think, I need a spare heart to feel all the things I feel.” Sanger Khan


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