Is It Your Adrenals, Thyroid, or Both?

Today, in the article below and in the podcast, I’m talking about the similarities and differences between thyroid and adrenal problems, and give you tools to help you figure out which might be  affecting you.

Is It Your Adrenals? Thyroid? Or Both?

You’re tired. You’re stressed out and overwhelmed. You’ve been noticing you have some brain fog – your thinking, memory, and focus just aren’t as clear as you feel they should be. Your hormones are out of whack, and maybe you’ve gained some weight, seemingly out of nowhere, and no matter how much you diet and exercise, you can’t drop that weight – especially around your middle. You’ve read about the adrenal glands and thyroid, and know that imbalances in either can cause these exact symptoms. You’re wondering if you have a problem in one, the other, or both. Fatigue, weight gain, poor sleep, brain fog and more are common symptoms of both hypothyroid and adrenal depletion which raises the question for many women: How do I know which I have? Is it my thyroid? Adrenals? Or both.

This question is answered in depth in my new book, The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. I wrote this book not because I intended to focus my practice so much on endocrinology, but just because I’ve heard the struggles and the needs of women across so many life cycles: stories of miscarriage, heavy and painful periods, PCOS, sleep problems, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, heart disease, and more – and their relationship to the thyroid and adrenal glands – or more accurately, the whole stress response system.

When I started to take a deep dive into what connects all of these women who experience what we call the western cluster, I discovered that along with the millions of women who have been diagnosed with a slow functioning thyroid or Hashimoto’s, even more are undiagnosed or under diagnosed or misdiagnosed. A lot of women are living in survival overdrive. So how do you know? There are two simple answers: your symptom picture and the right testing.

Differentiating Adrenal and Hypothyroid Symptoms

Because your adrenal glands and your thyroid both contribute to your body’s ability to regulate energy and metabolism, your hormones, and cognitive function (memory and focus), the symptoms can be quite similar when you’re experiencing adrenal imbalances, especially adrenal depletion, and hypothyroidism. However, there are also some differentiating symptoms. Because they are on a continuum, you can also have adrenal overdrive and adrenal depletion at the same time, usually one being more predominant than the other.

The table below, though not an exhaustive list of all of the symptoms of adrenal and thyroid problems, helps to clarify the main similarities and differences, and will help you to sort out your symptoms at a glance.

You can also click here for my FREE Adrenal/Thyroid Mini Quiz, previews to the comprehensive ones you'll find in the book, but enough to get you started on your healing journey. These will be available here for FREE for a limited time as a preview to the The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution which comes out in  January, 2017, at which time you’ll find the comprehensive versions in the book.

Getting the Right Testing for You

When it comes to thyroid health, my motto is “test, don’t guess.” For the tests you need to assess thyroid health and find out if you have Hashimoto’s, head over here.

The Adrenal-Thyroid Connection

The adrenal and thyroid glands are intimately connected – when your stress response system is chronically activated, it tells your thyroid to slow down to conserve energy. So it wouldn’t be surprising if you score high in both systems if you have thyroid symptoms. To learn more about the adrenal-thyroid connection in depth, read this article. Cortisol testing can be done with a 24 -hour salivary cortisol test – however, it is not necessary – if you have symptoms, you can actually begin to support and nourish your adrenal health with increased rest, improving your sleep, and using natural support in the form of adaptogens and other supplements to support adrenal health.

You can Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud

 Show Notes:

  • What are the adrenals, thyroid, and what do they do
  • What happens when the stress response system is always on
  • How to know if you have an adrenal or thyroid problem
  • The difference between adrenal overdrive and adrenal exhaustion
  • What do the symptoms of thyroid look like
  • Why it’s important to test for thyroid problems
  • The kind of transformations that I want to help people have
  • What adrenal and thyroid problems make us do
  • How we have the potential for a health revolution

Links Mentioned:


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Read or leave comments 24 Comment

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Thanks Aviva! Taking things a bit easy here amidst all the stress (does that make sense at all?) But I do notice your posts, and they make a difference. Affirmations to take care of myself better! love, Gill P.S. I became a certified health coach, and then started to want to publicise functional medicine, because although it seems popular to those of us who look out for it, there are huge swathes of professionals and the public who don't know about it. So I'd like to work with communications & functional health/health coaching, but it is tough to get the ball rolling while still in Sweden (we're hoping to relocate soonish).

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LR Dougan

Hi Aviva! Hashimoto's/Adrenal Fatigue here. I have been managing my adrenal fatigue successfully through my research and guidance by my naturopath for two years. I use adaptogens to boost low morning cortisol and lower spiking nighttime cortisol. I look forward to broadening my knowledge through your book and blog/podcasts. ~Linda

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Hi Aviva, I went through the chart of symptoms you've posted because I'm curious but I don't really fit those descriptions entirely. The main problem I have is fat just sticks and is so hard to lose. In addition, it looks bad because my stomach muscles separated in my pregnancies, just below my ribs they opened up and never went back to the normal position (hernia risk). I also have a couple toes that have gone numb in the last month and really dark circles under my eyes. I've never been skinny but rather curvy (actually I was skinny a couple times in my life). Found out in 2010 that I'm gluten intolerant and milk intolerant. Now i feel strong when i exercise, and i do feel stressed because of antisemitic harrassment and harrassment, but i just want to lose the stubborn fat!! The nordic winters contributed to the weight gain in a big way - only just got used to them at all. I'm 35 - how likely is it I will lose 15-20 lbs, in the next six months? I might want a third child but would like to get into better condition and a lower weight before conceiving. I know you have limited ability to answer my issues via email but just nice to get my concerns down! love, Gill

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    Megan Liebmann

    Hi Gill, Thank you for your comment and for sharing your experience. Seriously, Aviva loves hearing from all of you as it gives her fuel for what to bring to this tribe that she loves and adores so much. Stay tuned for more of what Aviva will be bringing in the very near future through FB live sessions and through podcasts and blogs. You are going to love what is up and coming. Warmly, Megan-Aviva Romm’s Executive Assistant and Online Nutrition Expert

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Dr. Aviva, I took the questionnaires and ended up high in all three sections. My daughter, who has Hashimoto's, keeps telling me to get my thyroid tested, but I never thought I had a problem since I am not tired or overweight. My main problems are with digestion and anxiety. I have always been a worrywart though, even in my childhood, so would this still be relevant? Also, I have had plantar faciitis for 3 years. Could you explain how this is connected with adrenal/thyroid? I have been greatly enjoying your informative podcasts! Thank you so much.

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    Megan Liebmann

    Hi Shelley, Stay tuned for Aviva's book and for up and coming FB live sessions as well os podcasts and blogs where Aviva will be diving into your questions. Warmly, Megan- Aviva Romm’s Executive Assistant and Online Nutrition Expert

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Thank you!!! You are so correct, most doctors dismiss me when I mention that, "could it be my adrenals or thyroid?" I have begun my journey into supporting my adrenals naturally but your information has made it so much easier. I can't wait for your book!! As a busy busy midwife, I do find myself in adrenal fatigue. In the meantime thank you for your blog and resources. N

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Thank you, Aviva! I live in Mexico and am about to graduate from a CNC program and planning to start a womens health practice. So much to learn from you! I hope to meet you in person some time. Dana

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Annalynn Ballachino

Thank you for your latest blog about Adrenals and Thyroid. I was brought to tears & feel such gratitude for your passion to reach out and help so many women who struggle with these problems. Over the last five years I have been trying to figure out what was happening to my body. What started out as postpartum depression gradually blurred into adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues. I have felt like something has been taking over my mind and body for so long and was no longer "me". I have seen conventional doctors, Naturopaths, and other alternative healing. It continues to be a struggle to find the right health-caregivers and a lot of the time I'm piecing together information through people like yourself. Thanks for putting this out there! I'd love to see a list or suggestions on how to find the right doctor.

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Love this and I remember that commercial so clearly! :)

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Meaghin Kennedy

Good morning Aviva, I recently read your Natural Pregnancy Book and thoroughly enjoyed the book. I'm 24 weeks pregnant, and a vegetarian who uses non-iodized salt in cooking. Your section on iodine deficiency raised a red flag: is this something I should be seeking out in a supplemental form? I purchased a bottle of kelp pills with 400 mcg per pill. I'm unsure if this dosage is too much to take daily and would be curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks, Meaghin Kennedy

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Hi Aviva! I'm listening to the thyroid/adrenal podcast right now. Are the questionnaires online yet for self-diagnosing? Thank you!

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    They sure are!

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Amber Hamilton

Hi Aviva, I just spoke to my Dr. this morning. She will only run a TSH, Free T3 and Free T4 tests. She will not do the Reverse T3 or the antibodies. She will do a celiac disease test. I came home from my appointment and just cried for 15 minutes. I really hope that I can finally figure out what is wrong with me. I want to be a better mother and wife and right now I'm just constantly irritable and so tired. I lay on the couch most days with my eyes closed and just can't get up. My sweet boys ask me to get down on the floor or go outside and play with them and I just can't do it. I want to, I'm just so tired. I can't seem to force myself to do it no matter how much I want to. What if all of those tests come back in what she feels is a normal range and I still don't know what is wrong? Can we set-up an appointment to talk to you on the phone? I live in Spokane, WA so there really is no way for me to come to your clinic. I tried seeing an integrative med doc a year ago and he said I had leaky gut but he refused to run a full thyroid panel or do celiac testing and said nothing about adrenals. He just told me to buy his expensive powders and pills, take them for 6 weeks and I would be fine. Well, I did that and I am not fine. I just feel so helpless. I REALLY APPRECIATE ALL OF YOUR BLOGS AND NATURAL MD RADIO AND FACEBOOK LIVE AND TELESEMINARS. THANK YOU FOR CARING! I just don't know how to get the proper support from a local physician.

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    Megan Liebmann

    Hi Amber, Thank you for writing in and sharing your story. I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. I know how hard it can be especially because you want to have energy to be your best and enjoy your sweet little boys. Know that you are a wonderful mama and know that there is a lot you can do to heal. Aviva recommends looking on the website of the Institute for Functional Medicine ( for a practitioner in your community. Warm wishes, Megan- Aviva Romm’s Executive Assistant and Online Nutrition Expert

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I've been trying to get your questionnaire for the thyroid and adrenals but it isn't showing up in my inbox. Is there any other way to get it, or am I doing something wrong? Thank you!

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    Hi Hollie, The questionnaire was discontinued as it is now available in my book The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution.

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I cannot thank you enough for this! I recently moved to CA because my life needed a change. I was stuck in a funk with work, I had season disorders, binge eating, anxiety and depression. I needed to get outside and have time for myself again! I transferred over to the all natural side since being here. After years of high sugar, I elliminated that and processed food in full force motivation to heal my gut. But I still having issues, I listened to this and it all clicked for me. So many of the symptoms for adrenal I just said YES. Finally something I can continue to educate myself on, something that makes sense instead of guessing or going with what society says is right or wrong. On a search for your other blogs and podcasts alike to start healing. Thank you thank you!

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    Aviva Romm

    <3 You're so welcome! Thank you for writing in!!!

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Carol Pearson

Hi I have your book, but I can't access all the things you have said will be on the site. This example is "copies of the Quesstionaires" reference on Page 94 of The Adrenal Thyroid revolution. Can you please tell me where I need to go to find them. Thank you Kind Regards Carol

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    Tracy Romm

    Hi Carol. You'll find them here -