The author enjoys writing on various topics, including mental illness, wellness, bipolar and tips for recovery..
Medication: Yes or No?
What are some of the most common reasons for not taking my thyroid medication, you may ask? Some of the reasons why I don't want to take medication may be the same reasons you don't want to take your thyroid medication, either.
I have hypothyroidism, and I go through stages when I feel like taking the medication is useless and unproductive. I base this article on my own experiences with hypothyroidism, medications, doctors, and general maintenance of medication compliance. This is not to be used as a guide or medical opinion of any kind.
First, hypothyroidism means your thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It makes hormones that control the way your body uses energy. It is not uncommon for hypothyroidism to be present for a number of years before it is recognized and treated.
If you have hypothyroidism and are not taking your thyroid hormone replacement medication (which might include Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid, Thyrolar, or Armour thyroid), then the untreated condition may cause a huge number of health problems for you. Seeing a doctor is better than making guesses or self-diagnosing.
Consult Your Doctor
Always consult your physician or health professional when making decisions about your medications. Adjusting or stopping your medication should be done only under a doctor's guidance.
Some symptoms of hypothyroidism you might experience can include:
- Low body temperature
- Intolerance to cold
- Up and down blood pressure
- Problems with remembering things
- Weight gain or loss
- Severe changes in your menstrual cycle
- Hair loss
- Increased goiter
Hypothyroidism can often be diagnosed with a simple blood test. If you have a low level of thyroxine and high levels of TSH, this can indicate an underactive thyroid. That's because your pituitary produces more TSH in an effort to stimulate your thyroid gland into producing more thyroid hormone. The TSH test is one of the best screening tools; your doctor will likely check TSH first and follow with a thyroid hormone test if needed.
Now onto the reasons why I sometimes prefer not to take my thyroid medication. This thyroid disease has touched me, my four siblings, and my mother and father. My sister has come close to dying on several occasions after stopping her medications. She has a more serious thyroid condition than I do. She has taken anywhere from 50 mcg of Synthroid to 400 mcg since she was 10 years old.
Her doctor says this dosage is very rarely prescribed. I am in no way recommending you stop taking your medication. This article is written solely from my perspective and is not a recommendation for you to stop or tweak your thyroid medication. Every person is diagnosed and medicated for their own particular needs. I am writing about what I have experienced with my thyroid condition and my prescribed medications.
Do Not Stop Your Meds Without Doctor Approval
This article is written solely from my perspective and is not a recommendation for you to stop or tweak your thyroid medication. I am writing about what I have experienced with my thyroid condition and my prescribed medications.
Some Reasons I Stopped Taking Thyroid Medications
- I don't feel any different or any better, so what is the point, I ask myself?
- I don't like taking any more medications than I have to. Believe me, a handful or more is quite enough. And yes, one more pill is always one too many for me.
- I have side effects I don't like when I take thyroid medication. They can be rather bothersome, depending on the dosage I am taking.
- I can't remember to take it every day. When taking multiple meds, it can sometimes be a problem.
- It costs too much. Sometimes finding money for an expensive medication can be difficult.
- I can't keep track of all my medications. Yes, this can be confusing if you take medications for various things.
This Is My Personal Decision
I don't always like taking the Synthroid because I do not always see the difference when I take it. Which doesn't always mean that I don't need it. Because I do need it. But by not taking it, am I causing damage to myself? Because I need the proper amount of hormone in my body to function properly. I think this is the biggest reason I don't want to take thyroid medicine. I don't see a difference, either way, I don't feel any worse or any better, so I question whether to take it.
Read More From Patientslounge
My brother and sisters take it and lose weight and feel better right off the bat. Me? Nothing happens. It doesn't make me feel better mentally either. So I am led to believe that I am not better off either way. So my research begins. I do take it when I feel I need to. I do, however, keep up on my blood work and monitor myself. If I am out of whack, then taking the medication is probably the better choice than not.
I take medication for bipolar disorder, and adding another medication only aggravates my situation. Now to clarify, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder long before I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition. So the two are very separate conditions. I hear people say, "what's one more medication?"
Well, that adds up, doesn't it? It is easier to take seven medications than it is to take 17. I worry a lot about what all these medications are doing to the inside of my body. My liver, my kidneys, and so on. How good are these thyroid medications? Do the research on all your meds.
I suppose this might be a lazy way out of having to not take it. In a logically sound argument, what is one more little tiny pill? And Synthroid is really just a tiny pill. When I look at it in realistic terms, one more small pill is not entirely a really good excuse. If it is really going to make a difference in how I feel. If my readings are low, and I take the medication, and it doesn't make me feel better, but my readings are normal, what do I do? Take the medication? More than likely, yes.
I worry about the side effects. So far, there aren't any that I can actually pinpoint. As I mentioned, I take medications for bipolar, and I have side effects from those. So that is really not an excuse for me to stop taking the thyroid medication. I already have side effects, so not taking it is not a workable excuse for the most part. If, for some reason, you have a serious enough side effect, tell your doctor; they may be able to try another form of medication that may be better for you.
As far as forgetting to take it—well, that doesn't really work all that well for me either. I have all my medications set up in a pill container that I take at a scheduled time. So one more should not be a problem as far as remembering. There are many ways to remember to take your prescribed thyroid medication.
An alarm clock, a schedule on the fridge, a pillbox, or an alarm on your watch or cell phone will do the trick very well. Taking the pill at the same time each day will also help you to remember to take it. Make it a habit. Believe it or not, I do forget to take my medications on an occasion. Not often, but there are days when I am rushing to get out the door and forget to grab the pill container. But otherwise, I am on a very strict medication schedule. For some people, it can be an ongoing uphill battle keeping track of everything.
So the above reasons are not really good excuses for me. I actually have no reason not to take the thyroid medication. I have a bunch of illegitimate reasons to avoid taking another medication. A medication that I know I need. So my dilemma is, do I or don't I take my thyroid medication? For now, I don't see why I should take it because I don't see or feel a difference.
I feel good; my levels are coming back a tad low. The doctor says as long as I feel okay and levels remain steady, I can stop taking the thyroid medicine for now. I am not advocating that anyone else not take their prescribed medication. Everyone has a different diagnosis. So please follow your doctor's instructions. You and your doctor are the ones who need to decide what is best for you. It is not something you decide to do on a whim.
As far as cost goes, I have an insurance plan with a low co-pay, so that really isn't much of a problem for me right now. However, it is a problem for some people. Thyroid medication is not all that expensive. But if you are on a limited budget, it can still be unaffordable for you. There are programs for you if you need them. Contact your prescription label company for discounts, NeedyMeds, or search for patient assistance programs for further help with your medications.
I take medications for bipolar as well, and sometimes it gets overwhelming trying to keep them all in order. Adding something else just adds to my anxiety about taking medications. But like I said previously, organizing them into a pill container can help with that. You can do it weekly or monthly. This is a very good way to make sure you are taking all of the meds you should be taking without missing an important dose. Keeping a list also helps keep the medications in proper order.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on December 05, 2013:
Thank you for taking the time to read my hub on thyroid medication. it is such a complex issue to say the least. I am finding there are many opinions on taking or not taking medications. Thank you for your sincere comments. they are greatly appreciated.
guAmpcemwerce on November 19, 2013:
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Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on June 11, 2013:
I would find another doctor that possibly understands thyroid issues better. This doctor is way off base. He is not recognizing you have options and choices for your medical care. He should be looking into why you feel lie you do. For a doctor to tell you your're fine when you know you are not is not acceptable. Please consider finding a doctor that will work with your value's and help you find a proper dosage of medicine. You deserve to feel healthy and a doctor should be helping you, not ignoring you when you have concerns.
SwooshVolley on June 03, 2013:
What I am having problems with is my lab values are all over the place, but yet within normal limits. I talked to my primary care doctor and he said he cannot step on my other doctor's toes. Let me back track, I had thyroid cancer and they took my entire thyroid out. When I had a thyroid, I was fit and motivated. After the full thyroid lobectomy, I am unmotivated, depressed, and have gained a great amount of weight. It weighs heavily on my mind.
I have discussed this issue with my doctor. I want to go holistic because I don't feel "right" with my levothyroxine. I have verbalized this more than once. However I met with,"you're fine. Your lab values are within normal limits." The normal limit scale is .1-5. My lab values differ from month to month. It is not within MY normal limit. I am fed up playing these reindeer games with my doctor. I just want to feel "normal" again.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on March 11, 2013:
Well thank you Stellar Phoenix, your review most appreciated.
Stellar Phoenix Review on February 22, 2013:
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aricabutto on March 02, 2012:
I'm diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease. I take Levothyroxine.
I can tell you what is happening: you're taking overdose of medication. Even if your doctor prescribed. Let me explain something:
There will be times when the medication dosage will need to be adjusted up or down. You HAVE to go to your doctor and tell him/her. The doctor will adjust the dosage. This panic attacks and palpitations are symptom of over dosage (too much levothyroxine).
Then, when you talked about why you stop taking your medication, you sound depressed. If you stopped taking your pills, you will be.
If you are a thyroid patient, you will be, more likely, for life. Forever. Get use to it. Is not a dead sentence, is only a condition and you can live very well with.
Now, your doctor must tell you, but you'll need the blood test every four-six months to check how your hormone levels are. Then, you MUST check closely your overall diary of "how do I feel today?". This things can help your doctor to adjust dosages of levothyroxine. Also, the dosage is not "the one": you will be needing adjustments every now and then.
I urge you not to treat badly your body. If your organism needs the hormone to work properly, do not play with it. You can damage even your brain, your heart... Be careful and take care of your health. Good luck!
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on February 04, 2012:
I don't think he would be angry. Just tell him why you stopped and I am sure he will order some blood work and set you back up with the proper dose. If your panic attack went away after stopping the med, that is something he needs to know, so he can perhaps try something that works better.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on February 04, 2012:
Hi Ann, Any new med can cause a great deal of side effects, I would definitely get with your doctor.
Taylor on February 03, 2012:
I got diagnosed with Hypothyroidism when I was thirteen. I took the medication for a while, but it started to give me panic attacks. I hated it. I stopped taking it for almost a full year, and now I'm worried that I should be taking it, because when I did get diagnosed, it was very severe.
I tried to re-order my meds, but it is expired and I am in panic mode that the doctor won't put me back on because he'll be angry. Could he do that, or will he put me back on? I'm freaking out. :*(
my name is ann on January 22, 2012:
hey i been taking my new medication could it make u spot for two days and stop or could it be i meant be pregnant could any one help me tell me what it could be
Jan on January 18, 2012:
I have Graves Disease which is hypo with auto antibodies and kicked off about 12 years ago with full blown thyroid eye disease. I take 100mg a day now since my TSH levels shot up to 17 and I felt like death though now a bit better. I've thought a few times about 'what's the point' of taking thyroxine but realise with my problems I'd be a lot worse off without them plus I'd put on weight without them. My advice to anyone with thyroid problems - take each day as it comes, keep on keeping on and always remember there's someone out there a lot worse off than you - hopefully.
Mrs. B on January 11, 2012:
I stopped taking thyroid meds called "Thyroid" because I got this irregular heartbeat. All thyroid meds have this side effect. I have tried them all. Now I am taking Thytrophin PMG and one drop of supplemental iodine each day. My irregular beat has not completely gone away but it is just worse in the early morning. I realize I have to go back on the meds eventually but would like to give th Thytrophin a chance. I have to find a better doctor. He is not helping me with my main issues. Will keep you posted on the Thytrophin PMG.
Mandy on January 01, 2012:
Ok at 14 i was diagnosed with bipolar type 2 and hypothyroidism while in a psychiatric hospital for depression(having to do with many family problems in my childhood), at 16 i got pregnant and stopped taking my bipolar meds (Abilify) and in all honesty really have been fine since, I'm 19 now if that gives you any indication of how fine i've been since then, seriously no mania or extreme depression. As for my hypothyroidism i stopped taking my levothyroxine 0.125 mcg once daily and half on weekends? like my doctor had told me to over 2 months ago. I feel the same as i did while on it and i haven't had a blood test since last spring. I maintain normal weight i don't eat overly healthy, i don't really exercise too much more than chasing my daughter around and playing at the park every couple days. I'm just not seeing the point of taking it or getting blood tests and what not if i'm feeling the exact same. I have lost all baby weight and i'm back to my normal weight of 125 and i stay pretty close to that again i don't diet. my hands are usually cold but it's winter, i smoke, and i don't put the heat higher than 60 in most rooms of the house. I have chipped nails and i can peel off pieces of them at times but i work with machinery and high water pressure sinks at my job which i would assume breaks anyones nails. If i see things getting out of whack i will go back to my doctor but until then...i am good as ever i guess. I don't think it's gone or anything just wondering, how could not taking levo. affect me in the long run if taking it hasn't helped either?
Jaime on December 30, 2011:
Ive been on meds since June. My levels were 65. They started me out at .25. I'm up to 125 and it's still not at the right level. I'm so frustrated. They move my meds so slow. If the doctor felt how I felt they wouldn't just drag their butts! I sleep during the night. I can't function without a 3 hour nap during the day. I never have any energy, mood swings, foggy memory, bowel trouble, extreme weight gain. I'm so tired! I'm beginning to think my dr doesn't know what they are doing! I feel worse than when I first started meds!
octapussyprime on December 20, 2011:
im only freaking 12 and i have active thyroids and ADHD and i give alot of people a hard time because they force me to do things that help me and hurt me and my family at the same time.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on December 19, 2011:
Taking a thyroid medication doesn't always mean you will lose weight. Check out hypothyroidism at the Mayo Clinic website. excellent source of information.You may get lucky with the Vitamin D and have good results on your next blood draw. A low dose of medication may do the trick for you with weight loss. My advice is good communication with your doctor, know your results and what you are taking. Hope this helps some.
Eric_7 on December 17, 2011:
I am on a low dose of synthroid for subclinical hypothyroidism. The only time I don't take it is when I want to go out drinking. I skip it for a day or two and avoid the awful hangover that synthroid seems to cause. If I don't skip it, then I get bad hangovers even with very little alcohol consumption (e.g. 2 glasses of wine).
nikkimiller on December 14, 2011:
I'm a 24 year old female who was just diagnosed with borderline hypothyroidism. About 5 years ago I came off of Yaz birth control and since then my hair has continually fallen out to the point where I've lost about 80% of my once thick, beautiful hair. I believe the birth control pills may have contributed to the change in my thyroid. Last week I just had blood work done and came to find out that I am extremely deficient in Vitamin D (14 out of 60) and my doctor believes this may be the reason I am showing a TSH level of 6.35 instead of the normal range of 2. My doctor has me prescribed to 50,000 units of Vitamin D 1x per week for 3 months and then wants to do another blood test to check both my Vitamin D and thyroid levels. If my thyroid is still too low then she says she will want to put me on a low dose of a thyroid medication, but I'm not sure which one yet. One of my concerns is that I am only 100lbs. @ 5'4" and cannot gain weight, but the thyroid medications may cause me to lose more weight which I cannot afford to lose. Is this a possibility? I'm very much unfamiliar with the way hypothyroidism works, and hopefully someone can help fill me in with some information. Thanks so much in advance.
Lisa on November 30, 2011:
I too take levrothyroxine for hyprothryoid (Hashimotos), however on the weekend, I use Mode 3 on my Q1000 low level laser on my thyroid in lieu of taking my thyroid medication and I feel great. There are many success stories with use of a low level laser. See:
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on November 18, 2011:
scribblecoach-Thank you so much for sharing your trials with thyroid disease. I know it doesn't help when you have bipolar and thyroid condition. I am very concerned about meds, it is important to keep healthy, which I try to do with healthy food and exercise. I am happy that you are on the right path. I am so glad you posted, I feel less alone :)
levothyroxin-The moral of your story hits it right on. As I've mentioned before, finding the right doctor as well is so important. And vigilance is a good thing. Thank you for sharing, it does help others.
levothyroxine on November 17, 2011:
got diagnosed 20 years ago after Losing my voice and sore throughts for a few years. I was a dancer so everyone thought that i was not eating. my behaviour got very high and had nurses that i taught their children think i was taking illegal drugs. I started to hum and rock all the time. then when driving to a workplace that was an hour away became unable to keep alert to drive. the littlest thing made me exhausted the goiter started to grow - i started teaching dance by sitting on the floor.... lost all work and many friends. Had my thyroid radiated took a liquid and had radiation treatments done. I then lost most of my hair and eylashes. felt crazy with anxiety and angry that i lost what i loved to do.
became very depressed and then started gaining wieght; skin issues - large pox all over body and all kinds of other rashes for a few years. very ugly and total opposite from what i had looked like before. Family now thought i was a drug attic and bi-polar....lost touch with them.
kept away and tried to get back to normal - was put on every anti-depressant around but they didn't work almost felt like i stared at the wall for seven years. took a while till i got leveled out with the right dose then was able to work out and slowly my brain started to function again. i went back to school and then was out there working. had to have some lazer treatment to contact the acne scars but now that they are faded look more like my old self. felt great normal weight but can never workout to the extreme or do anything to extreme- eating - only can have a drink- need to watch what i eat and have to sleep. when there is stress and i dont eat -it all starts over again and i have to get back on track. now in CBT to deal with all the garbage of misconception from family and friends and my tainted self esteem. But dose was too high this last year for one year and didn't sleep for three days in a row till slept, paranoida and anxiety took a while till released my dose was off.
moral to my story. have to really work at getting the right dose and then stick to a very balanced life with the right amount of exercise and the right food. Just have to care about keeping your self on the right track AND now ive realized that i need help from others to keep me so that i will follow a regiment. hope this helps others.
scribblecoach123 on November 16, 2011:
i never post to anyones forum. but i can relate to you, i also am bipolar, and have a generalized anxiety disorder.one has nothing to do with the other, maybe like you i had it when i was a child. one month i spent in bed and wasn't able to be with my grandbabies because i had no energy and was very weak. at first i thought maybe i was depressed, but i felt like all the energy was sucked out of me. i waited like this until mothers day of this year. after my son took me to see my mom up by philly, i said to him on the way back home drop me off at the emergency room. It was there that i learn that i had a very low thyroid. so i follow up with the Dr. n they did more bloodtest and then put me on the synthroid. i too, dont see any difference and its been like 6 months already. he says in 3 more months after blood test he might increase it. just like u i already take all these other meds for the bipolar n GAD. and i hate taken pills. even for headaches, but i also see myself laying around letting life pass me by and cant do anything about it because of lack of energy due to the thyroid. but i raised 4 gorgeous boys, and have 5 beautiful g.babies that are like my own.i am still young i shouldn"t be feeling like this. That is what makes me take that extra pill. what else can i loose. not taking care of your thyroid can be dangerous, not to mention the ugliest part, The Goiter. I just had to send u my comment cause when i read it, i could swear u were me. good luck to you
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on November 15, 2011:
Hi Martina- I know it is frustrating when your doctor blows you off. I went through a few before I found someone who actually listens and explains my thyroid numbers to me and adjusts accordingly. Sometimes if you take to much you will feel like crap and if not enough you get the same result. That is why it important to find someone who will listen and TRY to find answers for you. It sounds like a different doctor might help, as yours doesn't seem to be listening.
Martina on November 10, 2011:
One more thing, I also used to have problems with heavy bleedig like a month long and have a polyp, they put in coil which helped a bit, now it's out as I want to get pregnant.
Anyway, I am also aneamic, and taking iron is just taking another pill, which I hate as iron causes stomach cramps but it helps when taken with orange juice. I find it hard to stick to iron for some reason. The doc says it's my fault I feel tired as she attributes it to lack of iron. Again, the doctors are not helpful and I am feeling awful. I don't know what to do.
Martina on November 10, 2011:
I've been on Levothyroxin for 3+ years and like others saying it doesn't make difference. I still feel tired with or without, only now when I don't take it I feel worse within a few days. I usually take it regularly unless I run out and have to wait several days to have my prescription filled. The tiredness, fog, loss of memory etc. is really awful. No weight loss either. Have gained a few pounds but nothing dramatic. I went back to doctors but they just do a test and say the result was ok, and that's where it ends. However I do feel tired and lightheaded, can't concentrate, and remember. I got me a pill box because I also take warfarin and take meds every morning. I wonder if there is a light in the end of the tunnel. Also understand co-workers etc, don't see broken arm therefore they think you are fine. It's not fair they make you feel worse just for going to doctors.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on November 10, 2011:
Hi Patricia- Thank you for sharing your thyroid experience. I find it does help others possibly understand their thyroid condition just a little bit more. Thanks for the links, and I wish you the best success with your testing. It is always a good idea I believe to research all methods of treatment.
Patricia on November 09, 2011:
I want to first say Thank You to all of you for educating me by telling your stories. I was just recently diagnosed for possible/positive Hurthle Cell blah blah from the FNA biopsy and I spent days visiting sites that will tell me I don't need to completely remove my thyroid. Well, after meeting with the endocrinologist this past Monday, he strong suggests I have the surgery immediately because the nodule is 3/7 ct and I only just discovered it in Sept. Blood work negative. So, I found information about a clinic in SanFrancisco that will do an extensive molecular Gene Expression (dna testing) to accurately diagnose if cancer or not (or at least 95% accurately). The company is Veracyte and test is Afirma Thyroid FNA Analysis. I know that a lot of you no longer have your thyroid and the problems to live without it. I truly searched for an alternative and found www.ncrf.org and watched the video from Fred Eichhorn. It is not just for cancer patients. I also went to www.celect.org and ordered the supplements. I don't want to be afraid of having this removed or living without my thyroid and thanks again for your honesty and stories. You helped me.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on November 07, 2011:
Thank you Kalina for your input about bipolar and thyroid disease. Yes I agree doctors throw a prescription around like candy and it is annoying to say the least.
Kalina on November 05, 2011:
I once was diagnosed bipolar, then I found out they were feeding me all these medications and I wasn't even bipolar (I had celiac disease). I think doctors diagnose people bipolar automatically without truly attempting to find the real problem. I also have thyroid disease, I would suggest taking an organic thyroid medication because synthroid doesn't work for me either.
frommumbai on November 01, 2011:
For treating the symptoms, I have found that accupuncture based on SUJOK KI therapy is the best as it reduces the symptoms one by one.Not many are aware about the efficacy of SUJOK KI treatment on various ailments for which we regularly pop antacids/nsaid unknowingly.
frommumbai on November 01, 2011:
This thing about the effectiveness of thyroid medications ALLOPATHIC/HERBALis all made up by the pharma companies.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on October 25, 2011:
Hi Steph, Thank you for your input. I see a GP, never been to an endo as of yet. But I would imagine some people need more than just a GP. But your input is appreciated.
Steph on October 25, 2011:
Why don't y'all just go to a regular GP doc than messing with endocrinologists? I've never been to one myself in the 12 years I've been dx'd hypo. I just make sure to find one that will prescribe Armour thyroid and look at how you feel and not just lab numbers(you can search thyroid top docs and find a list). Once you're on it most other doctors won't take you off of it. (I've had to "shop around" and fire a few uncooperative doctors lol).
I can call my GP and more than likely get into to see her that day or the next.
Maybe I'm just biased against endocrinologists? *shrugs* I've never really heard that must good about them. From what I heard most only prescribe Synthroid/Levoxyl and are very attached to labs. I guess I just don't see the point.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on October 17, 2011:
nen some people take mere handfuls of pills, so t