The effects of Stress and Cortisol on Women

Like many women I have suffered from high levels of stress and high cortisol levels. Together this can greatly affect your health wellbeing!!

So what is Cortisol and what are the signs in Women?

Cortisol is one of the body’s main stress hormones. When you are under stress and your body’s fight or flight response kicks in, cortisol quickly comes to your rescue.
When cortisol production is balanced, levels of the hormone naturally rise and fall during the day. In response to danger, your body temporarily raises levels of cortisol and adrenaline to handle the stressful event. After the stressors have passed, cortisol and adrenaline levels return to normal.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Yet when chronic stress leads to high cortisol levels, it creates a state of adrenal imbalance that often triggers a cascade of adrenal-related symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Low sex drive
  • Sleeplessness
  • Weight gain (especially belly fat)
  • Impaired healing and cell regeneration
  • Disrupted digestion, mental function (brain fog) and metabolism
  • Weakened ability to fight infectionImbalances in other important hormones such as DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
  • Loss of muscle and bone
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Hair and skin problems
  • Thyroid imbalances

Adrenal imbalance in women tends to peak between the ages of 35 and 55 and most often shows up in one of the following ways:

  • You’re always active and feel “wired.” Your system is constantly fuelled by adrenaline and cortisol to create what feels like a continual state of hyper-energy. Yet you often feel drained.
  • You can’t get up in the morning — but you can’t sleep at night. Your natural 24-cycle of energy and relaxation is off-balance. If you’re able to fall asleep, you may wake up in the middle of the night fully alert.
  • You have no energy — You feel exhausted all the time. Even getting out of bed often feels like a challenge. You may also experience intense cravings and unexplained weight gain.

Adrenal imbalance may be a factor in many other serious conditions, including fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, arthritis, anxiety at night and more.

How to lower Cortisol and relieve Adrenal fatigue:

  • Supplements
  • Choose meals that rebalance your adrenal glands
  • Choose gentle forms of exercise
  • Go to bed earlier – your body needs to heal!
  • Counselling to understand and manage your stress factors
  • Meditation

Remember, it took a lot of time for high cortisol levels to develop and so it’s going to take time to bring your adrenals back to balance. As you work towards this goal, be kind to yourself, be proactive about all the many changes you can make and steps you can take — and know that you will be well again!