Stress Part 2: The Hormone Effect

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In my first post about stress, “The Immunity Effect”, I skimmed the surface of how stress impacts hormones. And believe me, there is so much to this subject, it (nearly) stresses me out thinking about it!

But let’s dive in, shall we?

If you’re like me, you’ve felt the hormone effect from stress more than once: fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, restlessness, migraines, binge eating… just a few of the lovely effects of stress.

So how does this work? 

Chronically high stress leads to long-term elevated levels of cortisol. This impacts everything from insulin and glucose levels to thyroid function and sex hormone production. I can personally thank the sex hormone havoc for PCOS (stress, you’re so wonderful 😊).

During times of stress, our bodies main focus is SURVIVAL. It turns its focus to the must-have functions that are needed to make sure we live to fight again. It does this by flooding our system with stress hormones like Cortisol and Adrenaline to make sure we have energy for the fight, or have the endurance for the flight. This means our body neglects the “non-urgent” functions like digestion, and suppresses sex hormone production. These stress hormones also suppress T3, T4 and Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone.

This hormone roller-coaster can ultimately lead to:

· Thyroid dysfunction
· Insulin resistance, hypo/hyperglycemia, Diabetes
· Adrenal fatigue
· Weight Gain
· Insomnia
· Depression

Keep in mind, this is in no way an exhaustive list of the issues that have been tied to stress…. These are just a few that I’ve experienced, or see more often in my sphere. Well, along with all of the obvious issues… irritability, headaches and anxiety.

I want to go back to the digestion issue for a sec…. we know that gut health is essential to overall health. If digestion is impaired long-term due to chronic stress, can you imagine what this is doing to your gut health? All those little parasites and bacteria that are supposed to get killed off before entering the small intestine aren’t taken out in the digestive process, and are able to have a play-day in your intestines. And don’t forget those undigested food particles and proteins making their way through your gut, which, left unchecked, can send you moving pretty quickly toward a leaky gut.

Clearly, stress is not something to take lightly. If you think you’re experiencing side effects of long term stress, please speak to your healthcare practitioner. And, take some time for yourself! Eliminate the things that may seem “good”, but are taking away from what’s most important… time for loved ones, time for self-care, and time to heal. Find what helps you de-stress, and say “no” to things that, in the end, really don’t matter.

Thriving With You,