We are exposed to stress constantly. Our lives are busier and the world is more complex than ever. Being constantly in touch with cell phones and email has its advantages, but it also adds to the stress in our daily lives (remember, any interruption is a small stress). Other stressors to our body include pollution, foods with poor nutrition content, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and many of the medications we take (especially when they cause side effects).
Stress causes actual changes in our hormone levels. Different people respond to stress in different ways. Short bursts of stress often lead to temporary hormone disturbances from which we recover. Longer continuous, exposure to stress leads to more profound hormone alterations in multiple hormone systems and many of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Anxiety or Irritability
- Abdominal Weight Gain
- Foggy Thinking and Disorganization
- Feeling Tired All of the Time
- Menstrual Period Changes
Stress can target hormone imbalances in your thyroid, adrenal, and reproductive hormones that ultimately lead to depression and anxiety disorders, chronic fatigue, memory problems, and obesity. Many medications for depression or sleeping pills do not treat the underlying hormonal imbalance that is causing the symptoms and will sometimes make the symptoms worse by further exaggerating the imbalance.
More about stress and Cortisol
However, when stress continues for an extended period of time, or when other hormone systems in our body are unbalanced, the adrenal gland becomes unable to produce enough cortisol to respond to even the smallest stress. The result is called adrenal fatigue. These people now have foggy thinking, irritability, and are tired most of the day, but have trouble sleeping at night. They will often get uncontrollably drowsy at breaks during the day, or while driving home from work. If you need caffeine throughout the day just to function, then you could have adrenal fatigue. Once the adrenal gland is in fatigue, frequent doses of caffeine are craved just to get a tiny burst of energy from your depleted adrenals. Up to 60% of Americans may have some sort of Adrenal Fatigue.
How do you know if you’re the level of functioning of your adrenals? The answer lies in your individual testing. With super-sensitive saliva testing, we can best determine your cortisol output at four times in the day. Then we can help your body handle stress better with the proper adrenal support or suppression as indicated by your testing. This coupled with some small dietary alterations and well-timed exercise will revitalize your adrenal function.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms you may have a hormone imbalance from poorly functioning adrenal glands or an under functioning thyroid. Give us a call for your initial Hormone Health and Stress assessment consultation and saliva testing.