Cortisol is commonly referred to as “the stress hormone.” The hormone is mostly secreted by the adrenal glands and released into the bloodstream as a “fight or flight response” to stress, although cortisol is also produced in the hypothalamus of the brain and the pituitary glands. The highest quantities of cortisol are supposed to be produced in the early morning hours with production slowly tapering off throughout the day, but this largely depends on a person’s daily activity patterns. On average, cortisol levels rise and fall throughout the day, especially when a person is faced with a lot of stress or the levels of their other hormones are thrown into disarray. In addition to stress and a lack of hormone balance, other factors can also trigger increased cortisol production and cortisol release, such as exercise, excitement, and low blood sugar.
If you’re interested in chronic stress treatment, please call (213) 320-3626 or contact us online.
Understanding the Natural Stress Response
Unfortunately, many of us live stressful lives and experience heightened stress levels for extended periods of time. This constant state of alarm is also known as chronic stress, and it can oftentimes lead to a variety of symptoms resulting from an excess of cortisol production. In some cases, high cortisol levels inhibit the production of insulin, a hormone responsible for metabolic functions and the regulation of blood sugar levels.
While some stress is normal and not a medical concern, chronic stress can be caused by a larger, overlying condition. As doctors and medical professionals learn more about the body’s natural fight-or-flight response, imbalanced hormones have emerged as the primary cause of chronic stress.
The three hormones that control your body’s stress levels are:
- Cortisol: Created by the adrenal glands, cortisol regulates your blood pressure, blood sugar and is useful in prioritizing what process your body needs during a stressful time.
- Adrenaline: This hormone controls your immediate, physical reactions to stress. That includes the tightening of muscles, increased blood flow and a quicker heart rate.
- Norepinephrine: This hormone regulates your level of focus and alertness during stressful times.
The largely gender-specific hormones of estrogen and testosterone also play a role in stress. When any of these hormones is either under-produced or overproduced it can lead to chronic stress and a number of frightening side-effects.
Chronic Stress Symptoms
In addition to general discomfort and an uneasy mind, excess of the stress hormones along with the resulting chronic stress can cause debilitating symptoms that include:
- Weight gain / Obesity
- Thinning skin that is more susceptible to bruising
- Pink or purple stretch marks
- High blood pressure / Hypertension
- Decreased bone density / Osteoporosis
- Decreased muscle mass
- Heart attack
- Low libido
For men, Cushing’s syndrome can also lead to the following symptoms:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased fertility
- Decreased sex drive
If you’re seeing any combination of these conditions, you need to get help immediately. Chronic stress may seem like a side-effect of a difficult life, but it can be dangerous and even fatal if it goes untreated.
Treatment for Chronic Stress
As chronic stress is largely the result of hormonal imbalance, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, is the best method of treatment available. BHRT seeks to correct your body’s natural stress hormone levels.
This is done with natural hormones, such as cortisol, estrogen and testosterone, as opposed to the synthetic recreations used in conventional hormone replacement therapy. These bio-identical hormones can relieve chronic stress via a variety of delivery options including:
- Injected pellets
Each of these is a viable method for BHRT delivery. The only way to discover which method is right for you is to call (213) 320-3626 or contact us online. Your doctor will also likely recommend a number of lifestyle changes to help with your chronic stress problem, including:
- Improved diet
- Increased exercise
- Relaxation techniques
- Vitamin and supplement programs
Don’t Ignore Chronic Stress
Chronic stress shouldn’t be ignored. It’s likely a sign of hormonal imbalance, and may have fatal consequences. If you’re interested in a de-stressed, happier life through bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, please call (213) 320-3626 or contact us online.