Mental Health: Prolonged Stress Can Lead To Excess Cortisol Levels; Here's Why & How To Avoid It
We discuss how overproduction of cortisol can have negative effects on the body and how to prevent it.
High stress levels can lead to lack of proper sleep
Prolonged stress can lead to excess cortisol through the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is a complex neuroendocrine system that responds to stressors by releasing a cascade of hormones, including corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) from the hypothalamus, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the pituitary gland, and cortisol from the adrenal glands.
When the body is under stress, the hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary gland to release ACTH, which in turn signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol is critical in the body's stress response and is responsible for many physiological changes that help the body cope with stress.
However, when stress is prolonged, the continual activation of the HPA axis can cause excess cortisol production. This overproduction of cortisol can have negative effects on the body. We discuss some of these negatives affects below.
Negative effects of high cortisol levels:
1. Suppression of the immune system
Excess cortisol can suppress the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infections and illnesses.
2. Increased inflammation
Cortisol can also increase inflammation in the body, which has been linked to numerous chronic diseases.
3. Weight gain
Cortisol has been shown to increase appetite and promote the storage of fat in the abdominal area, leading to weight gain.
4. Mood disorders
High levels of cortisol have been linked to anxiety and depression.
5. Cardiovascular disease
Chronic cortisol exposure has also been associated with high blood pressure and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Overall, prolonged stress can lead to excess cortisol production through the activation of the HPA axis, which can have negative effects on the body. It is important to find healthy ways to manage stress to prevent the negative effects of excess cortisol. Read on as we share some steps that will help you reduce stress.
8 Tips to help you reduce cortisol levels and stress:
Exercise is a natural way to reduce cortisol levels in the body. Regular exercise can help to release endorphins, that are natural chemicals that enhance mood and reduce cortisol levels.
2. Adequate sleep
Lack of sleep can cause fatigue, irritability, and stress. Ensuring that you get adequate sleep every night is critical in reducing cortisol levels.
3. Meditation and yoga
Both meditation and yoga are fantastic ways to reduce cortisol levels in the body. Daily practice decreases stress levels and promotes relaxation.
4. Eating a well-balanced diet
Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help keep cortisol levels in check.
5. Limit caffeine intake
Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase cortisol production. Limiting caffeine intake can help reduce cortisol levels.
6. Get a massage
Massages are a great way to reduce stress levels. They can help to relax the body and reduce cortisol production.
7. Connect with friends and family
Spending quality time with friends and family can help reduce cortisol levels. Connecting with others can help promote feelings of happiness and contentment.
8. Keep a positive outlook
Maintaining a positive outlook can help reduce stress and cortisol levels. Try to focus on the positives in life and avoid negative thinking.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
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