How Your Body Responds To Stress and The Symptoms Of High Cortisol
Dr. Richard Hagmeyer is a holistic health care physician specializing in Natural treatment For Adrenal burnout, High cortisol problems, Low Cortisol problems, and chronic fatigue.
High Cortisol and adrenal burnout is a major problem in todays world. When a stressor occurs, something that we need to respond to, our adrenals kick into action releasing cortisol.
The adrenals are small, walnut sized glands that sit on top of each kidney. They secrete (let out) powerful hormones that control your body’s response to these stressors, or forces.
This is our “fight or flight” response. It was designed to mobilize the necessary resources in our bodies to save our lives. The stress response causes our bodies to use carbohydrates and fats for instant energy to meet the challenge.
The part of our nervous system that increases our heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure gets activated. This also slows down our digestion….. who needs to digest food when you have a crisis on hand? All our energy gets rerouted to survival and resolving the crisis quickly, therefore all normal functioning gets temporarily “put on hold” until that happens. One of the hormones the adrenals secrete is cortisol. Cortisol controls our daily rhythm ~ our circadian rhythm.
Cortisol energizes our bodies to meet the day’s needs and maintains our blood sugar while we sleep, which is when our bodies need energy to repair and grow. Therefore, our adrenals vary the amount of cortisol they secrete throughout the day. It is typically lowest between midnight and 4am and gradually increases until 8am so you can wake and meet the day.
After 8am, it gradually declines throughout the day to prepare you for sleep. This normal pattern continues until you need to respond to a stressor. The adrenals increase the cortisol they release to meet the need and then it gradually returns to normal. These changes, which allow us to respond to situations quickly, can be very valuable. It allows us to slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident, to prepare and give a presentation or to grab a toddler running into the street. The problem with our lives today is that we are constantly being bombarded with stressors and our adrenals get less and less time to slow down to normal.
Symptoms of High Cortisol
These excessively increased levels of cortisol can cause serious health issues. When our bodies are continually responding to stress, normal functioning gets put aside, leading to health issues such as
- · Impaired healing and cell repair
- · Decreased resistance to infection
- Disrupted digestion, mental functioning and metabolism
- Hormonal imbalances such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA
- Loss of muscle and bone
- Mood swings and depression
- Hair and skin problems
- Thyroid imbalances
- Low libido (sex drive)
- Weight gain, especially around the waist/abdomen
This should make perfect sense! When your body is locked in this fight or flight response, your body is not concerned about your libido, your hair or your digestion, instead it is focused on how it needs to mobilize energy for the immediate stressor.
Continuous Stress is Damaging To The Body
It is well documented that over 80%, and as high as 90%, of all visits to primary care physicians are related to the negative effects of stress. It is clear that this sustained stress response weakens the immune system, as well as elevating blood pressure and accelerating the rate at which our bodies and brains age.
affects on the Cardiovascular system
There is increasing evidence that cortisol contributes to cardiovascular risk, not only in Cushing’s syndrome, but more generally. Hypertension, truncal obesity, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia are all important in this regard-
Vasc Health Risk Manag.2005 December; 1(4): 291–299.
Cortisol levels and emotional memory formation
“In both depressed men and women, cortisol’s effects on hippocampal function were positively correlated with its effects on recall performance assessed days later. Our data provide evidence that in depressed compared to healthy women, cortisol’s effects on hippocampal function are altered. Our data also show that in both depressed men and women, cortisol’s effects on emotional memory formation and hippocampal function are related”
J Psychiatr Res. 2011 Jan;45(1):15-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.10.005.
Watch Dr Hagmeyers video explaining a common cause behind Anxiety
So how do we know if our cortisol levels are abnormal?
Standard blood work, typically a one-time blood draw for cortisol, can’t show you how your adrenals are functioning since they normally vary the amount of cortisol they secrete over the course of a day. A salivary cortisol test, which also measures another important hormone called DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), performed at 4 specific times during the day will give a better picture of how your adrenals are functioning.
Treatment for Adrenal Fatigue
If you feel that your response to stress is affecting your health, call Dr. Hagmeyer to go over an Adrenal Stress Index Panel to determine a course of action, which includes lifestyle changes, to heal your adrenals today.
The Personal and Individualized Stress and Recovery Program is a Natural Treatment for men and woman who suffer with fatigue, anxiety, sleeping problems, adrenal fatigue, chronic pain.
Our office utilizes nutritional supplements, Dietary modifications, Nutritional Counseling, Advanced Testing, Hormone and endocrine support formula, Dietary assessment, and lifestyle guidance.
Our Personal Fatigue, Stress and Anxiety Recovery Program is Customized to the Individual. We don’t have a cookie cutter approach to your health problem. We believe that each person develops sickness and disease for a variety of different reasons. This is why our approach not only tests each person based on their case history, but our treatment is then customized to the individual.
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