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The Connection of Stress and Cortisol

I continue on discussing how STRESS impacts our body. In my previous video, I explained how stress affects the gut and brain. Today I will talk about how stress affects our hormones, specifically cortisol. In the hormone stress response, our brain and adrenal glands play a major role, which is called the HPA axis or the hypothalamus, Pituitary Adrenal Axis. A coordination of hormone response to stress.

First let’s take a step back. How our body responds to a stressor.

When a stressor or a threat is perceived, our amygdala in the brain will sense danger and signal our hypothalamus (command center) to activate the autonomic nervous system and signal our adrenal glands (right on top of our kidneys) to produce adrenaline. We use adrenaline hormones of epinephrine and norepinephrine during acute phase stressors to rev up the heart rate, increase breathing, heighten hearing and vision, release glucose and fat to use for energy.

Now if the threat or stressor remains, production of cortisol continues until the stressor is no longer perceives as a threat.

The HPA Axis uses a negative feedback loop. When a stressor is resolved, cortisol will send a signal back to the hypothalamus, alerting the brain all is fine and the body can return to a parasympathetic, relaxation mode.

NOW, if we are chronically stressed, an overproduction of cortisol will occur and this process causes the feedback loop to be desensitized. Too much cortisol can have a negative impact to the body that develop into illness and disease.

In my next video, I will discuss the concerns of chronic stress and cortisol production on our body and

Managing stress and your hormones are crucial to your body. You may have heard of "adrenal fatigue” which occurs when your cortisol is no longer effective or producing enough to properly assist in the daily body’s functioning. In functional medicine, we assess for symptoms of cortisol dysfunction, review lifestyle concerns, test hormone imbalance and develop a plan towards a return to health and wellness. DM if for a free discovery call or have questions.

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