What does stress have to do with it?

What does stress have to do with it?

Our brains respond to stress of any severity and form (click here to read about examples of stress), from skipping a meal to a death in the family. A healthy stress response involves a message from the brain to the adrenal glands (located above your kidneys), followed by a release of cortisol and adrenaline throughout the body.

In a healthy body, cortisol turns off the stress response and things go back to a relaxed mode. However, in our highly over-stimulated and stress-packed way of living, the stress response is triggered repeatedly and/or never turns off.

If only there was a reset button, I often joke! Sometimes a lengthy vacation is enough to flip the switch, but, alas, returning to home, work and life quickly puts us back into overdrive.

Cortisol is a high risk substance. While yes, it is normal and even healthy to have some cortisol produced in the body; that is what gets us up in the morning. The problem is that in high amounts and at the wrong time of day, cortisol negatively effects every system in the body. It turns off digestion (reflux, indigestion, bloating, constipation). It trips up the immune system (frequent infections, autoimmunity, cancer) and it brings hormones to a halt (low thyroid function, blood sugar issues and irregular menstrual cycles). Furthermore, Cortisol disrupts the messengers in the nervous system, the neurotransmitters, making anxiety, depression, sleep issues and eating disorders all the more likely.

In other words, stress causes adrenal exhaustion, also known as General Adaptation Syndrome (first described by Dr. Hans Selye in the 1930s; read more here). At first the adrenals may respond to stress in an overly zealous manner (referred to as Phase 1 Adrenal Exhaustion). However, depending on genetics and a number of variables, over time the adrenals gradually run out of steam (Phase 2 and 3 Adrenal Exhaustion).

Cortisol in high amounts is common with both Phase 1 and Phase 2 Adrenal Exhaustion. Then, in Phase 3, the cortisol runs out, which in some ways may be a relief! But now, with very little cortisol to go around, a person is likely to feel quite fatigued all day, and low cortisol is one of the most common causes of a low mood.

Adrenal Exhaustion is not a “conventional medical” diagnosis, but it is widely documented in the literature and I find it to be one of the major underlying causes of fatigue, anxiety/depression, weight gain/loss, sleep issues, eating disorders, menstrual issues, low thyroid function, frequent infections, cancer, autoimmunity and diabetes.

There is no reason to overlook it (or to spend a lifetime suppressing the symptoms with medications). And there is a way to test for it! I look at cortisol in the saliva, and measure it throughout the day, so I can see the unique pattern of adrenal stress in your body. And I look at urinary levels of adrenaline and neurotransmitters to find out exactly how stress has impacted your body, and what we need to do to help you recover.

Yes! Recovery is possible. All of these factors I have mentioned can be adjusted with nutrients and herbs (very well documented in research). All I need to know is what your levels are currently, and then I can tell you exactly what to do, in a step-wise fashion, to bring your adrenals back to life (so to speak) or push your reset button.

Ready to reset your adrenal functioning? Consider booking a Health Breakthrough Session today so I can help.

To your health and wellness,

Dr. Doni

Donielle Wilson, is a women’s health expert and Naturopathic Physician with a private practice in New York City and Connecticut. She specializes in showing women and their loved ones how to achieve their wellness goals by finally getting the answers they’ve been looking for to their most perplexing health challenges. To learn more about Dr. Doni and her unique approach to achieving health naturally, please visit http://DrDoni.com today.


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  1. She believes yoga could rope a useful tool to help people battling depression and anxiety disorders.

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