You've put on a few pounds, you're always feeling cold and, most days, you're exhausted. As if that's not enough, now you're getting forgetful and depressed. While you're trying to wrap your head around all of these changes due to your hypothyroidism, now you're wondering what your friends and family must be thinking. Trying to explain your condition and symptoms to others is not such an easy task. But knowing that others understand what you're going through and are there to support you can help. They may even be able to offer assistance with daily activities, words of encouragement or ideas about how to cope and live with hypothyroidism that you never thought of. For example, if you have a tendency to isolate yourself when you're depressed, it can help to talk with a loved one or friend to explain why you've been out of touch, or just to have someone who can listen to what you've been going through. Here are some ways you can connect with those who love you about your underactive thyroid: 1. Inform. Start by explaining what hypothyroidism is—an underactive thyroid, or condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain important hormones—and how it affects everyone differently. Tell them about the symptoms you have been experiencing and what you are doing about them. Once they understand that your symptoms are actual physical effects of the condition, and not just complaints, stress or "all in your head," they may be more likely to offer help and encouragement. 2. Refer. Direct them to websites or pamphlets you received from your doctor to learn more and find out what they can do to help, such as researching alternative treatments that may help with your symptoms. 3. Encourage. Because thyroid disease runs in families, it's also important to encourage relatives to get a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test, a simple blood test to check their hormone levels. Even if the results are normal, they should get retested every five years, or if they begin showing symptoms. Many of the symptoms are often confused with those of other health conditions, but they include: Dry skin Swelling or puffiness in the face (especially around the eyes), hands, ankles and feet Weight gain (and trouble losing weight) Constipation Feeling cold Fatigue or less energy Depression Drier, coarser, more brittle hair 4. Prepare. Be sure someone close to you has your doctor's name and contact information, as well as the name and dosage of any medication you're taking, in case of emergency. 5. Ask. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You may need an extra pair of hands to help with chores and activities that are more difficult for you at this time. With proper treatment you won't need to depend on others for too long, so accept others' generosity. Also, you may want a close friend or relative to accompany you to doctor appointments. It can be helpful to have another set of ears, as well as someone else who can ask questions and just offer support when you seek treatment. 6. Be patient—with yourself and with those going through this with you. It can take weeks or months before your treatment begins working and you start feeling better. But once it does, the efforts from you and your loved ones will be worth it.