Shiftwork and hypothyroidism

  1. Hi all! First of all, I'm not a nurse so I hope you don't mind me using your forums. I work in the law enforcement field and we currently work 12 hours shifts, 4 on, 4 off and we rotate 4 shifts of days then 4 shifts of nights. I will spare you all how hard I find it to work shift because I'm sure you all have your own experiences and can relate. Actually, a 12 hour day works out to more like an 18 hour day, if you take into account the time I wake up to the time I go back to sleep.

    I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism and my doctor has me on levothyroxin (synthroid). (I might also have some problems with depression but my doctor wants to straighten out my thyroid levels first before going on to other potential issues). What I would like to know is; have any of you ever dealt with problems of low thyroid levels or depression while working shiftwork? How did you deal with it?

    Its well documented the negative impact shiftwork has on the human body and I'm at an even bigger disadvantage having low thyroid levels. To be honest, I would really like to quit my job because I really don't have any interest in this field anymore and I can't stand the long hours and forcing myself to stay awake. My days off are a waste because I'm either sleeping or too tired to do anything. I've only been on my meds for a few weeks and I know this isn't the time to make a life changing decision like quitting my job but I really can't do this for the next 30 years! The money is good but what good is money if you're lying in a hospital bed when you're older?! I used to think money was important but now I realize that personal well being is more important.

    I'm sure there are plenty of nurses out there who have seen first hand the effects of low thyroid levels and negative effect it can have on a person (ie. depression, fatigue, etc). The side effects of my synthroid are also have some negative effects on me (eg, panic attacks, anxiety, etc).

    Anyway, I think I've taken up enough of your time. Any general comments, suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated. I feel like I'm coming to a crossroads in my life and I want to make sure I'm making the right decision.

    Thanks for your time!
    Last edit by Daedalus on Mar 27, '05
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    About Daedalus

    Joined: Dec '02; Posts: 6
    Police officer


  3. by   letina
    Hi, sorry to hear you're feeling this way. I'm replying to your post, not as a nurse (although I am one) but as a fellow sufferer. I had hyperthyroidism a long time ago which didn't respond to treatment so I had a thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid gland) followed by radio-active iodine treatment. This left me with hypothyroidism and I now take Thyroxine every day and will continue to take this permanently. I just wanted to say that the way you are feeling now is pretty much to be expected, it can take a while until your thyroid levels reach normal limits. As a nurse, I too have worked shifts for many years and yes it was tough when I was not feeling my best. A thyroid imbalance affects pretty much your total well being but I can say to you - don't despair, you will improve and you will start to feel better soon. I'm sure you are being monitered closely by your health care provider, I still have regular blood tests after 12 years and provided I take my meds regular, I can say that I feel as well as the next person. My best advice to you would be to not make any major decisions about your job at the moment, especially if you enjoy what you do. Wait a while, get yourself back to a good health status, and take it from there. I promise, you WILL feel better, all in good time.

    Good luck, take care, and if there is anything else we can do to reassure you, let us know.
  4. by   akcarmean
    i also suffer from hypothyroism and manic depression. (right now other health prob. on top of those wont go into detail) but before the other problems when your medication gets to the normal levels your body will start to respond and you will get to feeling like you did before. but also make sure that your dr. knows that you are having problems with the anxiety. there are also medication to treat that. make sure after you get your levels into the normal range that every 4-6 months you have your levels rechecked. it is very important to keep your levels up and have them checked.

    from a fellow sufferer and nurse i wish you the best of luck and it does get better. try to hang in there.

  5. by   landonsles
    I, too, have hypothyroidism, and take Synthroid. I found a lot of info on the web about drug-drug and drug-food interactions while taking Synthroid that I was never told by my MD. I would advise you to learn all you can about this drug so you can get the best possible benefit from taking it. Good Luck!!
  6. by   Daedalus
    Thank you all for your responses! I definately have the support of my family and friends but sometimes I still feel like I'm battling this alone. Someone without this condition would just think I'm being lazy but that is definately not the case. I HATE being like this and I definately want to get better but sometimes I'm just not motivated to do anything. Its sad to know that other people have this condition but its also good to know that I'm not alone in my struggle.

    The depression and deep despair have decreased a little. The problem right now seems to be my anxiety. Once I get a thought into my head, I can't stop obsessing about it. Sometimes I don't even know why I'm nervous. I go back to nightshift in a few days and that will be the real challenge. I almost walked out of work during my last nightshift a few weeks ago because the anxiety got so bad. I think the key to beating this is to keep busy but its hard to try and keep busy when I have no determination to do anything.

    If anyone is interested in chatting or needs some support, feel free to leave me a private message and we can chat on msn/icq/aim/email. I'm a very good listener.

    Thanks again for the responses and take care. My mom is also a nurse and I know how hard you all work and how caring nurses are. Take care!