Thyroid eye disease (TED) is a condition closely linked to Graves’ disease and some other thyroid conditions. With TED, your immune system begins to attack tissue and fat around your eyes and your thyroid. This results in many symptoms that can be bothersome, painful, and appearance-altering.

TED can impact your quality of life and result in rapid mood changes, anxiety, and depression. It’s important to manage both physical and mental health symptoms if you have TED.

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms of TED may include eye-related changes, such as:

  • pain
  • redness
  • swelling
  • dryness
  • watering
  • itching
  • blurred, reduced, or double vision
  • light sensitivity
  • retraction of the eyelids
  • bulging

Mental health symptoms

TED can impact your mental well-being. This may be due to the signs and symptoms of TED or fluctuating hormones caused by a thyroid condition.

You may experience:

  • Mood changes, including feeling irritated, snappy, or even hyperactive at times.
  • Anxiety, which is stress and nervousness that dominates the way you think and feel.
  • Depression, which is a low mood that lasts for 2 weeks or longer.

Limitations can occur if you have TED that impact your outlook, such as:

  • inability to work
  • difficulty completing daily activities
  • low self-esteem from changes in appearance
  • changes to your social life

A 2021 study of 100 people with TED found that 42% of participants had anxiety, depression, or both. A larger number had anxiety (34%) than depression (28%), though both were prevalent.

This study also found that anxiety and depression were more frequent in participants who experienced a lower quality of life with TED.

Contributing factors included the inability to work, having to see a significant number of doctors during treatment, needing surgery, and experiencing chronic symptoms, including pain, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and double vision.

TED may not be the only condition you have contributing to feelings of anxiety or depression. Other thyroid conditions that often occur with TED can result in changes to your mental health, including Graves’ disease, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism.

When TED occurs in cases of hyperthyroidism, it’s typically a result of Graves’ disease.

These can cause your thyroid to work too hard or not hard enough. This results in changes to your metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature, as well as hormones that affect your mood.

It is not always possible to predict how long you will have TED symptoms. This can alter how you feel. Sometimes, TED will resolve after treatment of your initial flare. Other times, you may have symptoms for a longer period of time that get worse and prolong treatment.

Treatments can take several months to several years. They can include self-management, medications, and even corrective surgery.

Sometimes certain medications or recovery from surgery can affect your mental health, so make sure to address any changes in outlook with your doctor.

You can manage your mental health with TED in several ways. Often, a combination of these strategies can help you cope.

Talk with your doctor

Have an open conversation with your doctor about your TED symptoms, including physical and mental symptoms. Ask them about what mental health screenings and resources may be available to you as you cope with the condition.

Acknowledge your feelings

Receiving a diagnosis of TED with or without other thyroid conditions can alter your feelings and outlook. Make sure to give yourself time to process the news.

Get the right treatment

Seek medical treatment for TED, other thyroid conditions, and your mental health. Ignoring signs and symptoms will only delay treatment. This can cause your mental health to decline as symptoms persist. There are many treatments available for both TED and mental health conditions.

Lessen TED symptoms at home

You can make modifications at home to help manage TED symptoms. These could improve your outlook. Wear sunglasses to help with light sensitivity, or use eye drops to moisten your eyes.

Elevate your head when you sleep to lessen eye pressure and get more rest. Get glasses with prisms to reduce double vision.

Find a counselor or therapist, support group, or loved one

Find a counselor or therapist to talk through your feelings and obstacles you experience with TED, or locate a support group for those with similar conditions either in person or online. Family members and friends may also be able to provide you with moral support.

Keep up with healthy habits

Look for ways to manage mental health challenges outside of the clinical setting by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. These include exercising, eating a balanced diet, getting the right amount of sleep, engaging in relaxing hobbies, and trying meditation.

TED is a condition that can affect not only your eyes but your mental well-being. You may find yourself experiencing rapid mood changes, anxiety, or depression while you cope with and treat TED.

There are many strategies you can adopt to improve your outlook. These include talking with your doctor, seeking treatment for your physical and mental well-being, and finding the right supports at home.