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The Relations Between Stress and Hormones
Stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. Stress can come from various sources such as work, relationships, and personal issues. However, stress is not just a psychological phenomenon; it also causes your body to react to stress by releasing hormones, which affect your physical health.
Types of Stress
There are two main types of stress:
Acute stress: Short-term stress that goes away quickly. Acute stress helps you manage dangerous situations and it also occurs when you do something new or exciting. All people have acute stress at one time or another.
Chronic stress: Stress that lasts for a longer period of time and occurs when you have money problems, an unhappy marriage, or trouble at work. Any type of stress that goes on for weeks or months is chronic stress. You can become so used to chronic stress that you don’t realize it is a problem and it may lead to health problems if you don’t find ways to manage it at the early stage.
How Do Hormones Respond to Stress?
The body reacts to stress by releasing hormones and these hormones make the brain more alert, causing the muscles to tense, and increasing the pulse. These reactions are good in the short term as these reactions can be considered as the body’s way of protecting itself.
When the body responds to stress in the way that it prepares to either fight-or-flight , the body releases hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which increase not only heart rate but also the blood pressure and energy levels. These hormones can help you to respond to stress effectively.
The body’s stress response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.
But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on.
The long-term activation of the stress response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follow can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including:
- Digestive problems
- Muscle tension and pain
- Heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
Stress and Hormonal Imbalance
When you have prolonged stress, the hormone called cortisol increases. When cortisol hormones undergo an abnormal increase through chronic stress, all other bodily processes are compromised.
Chronic Stress can disrupt the balance of other hormones in our bodies, leading to further problems. For example, causing an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, which can result in menstrual irregularities, reduced fertility, and endometriosis. Similarly, stress can also cause a decrease in testosterone levels, which can lead to decreased energy levels, muscle mass, and sexual function.
Managing the Relations between Stress and Hormones
Given the close relations between stress and hormones, it’s essential to take steps to manage stress effectively. This can include lifestyle changes, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and stress-management programs including:
- Healthy diet, regular exercise and enough sleep
- Relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, massage or meditation
- Take time for hobbies, such as reading, listening to music, or watching your favorite show or movie
- Building strong relationships and networks
- Volunteering in your community
- Organize and prioritize what needed to be accomplished at home and work
- Seek professional counseling to help develop specific coping strategies to manage stress
Stress and hormones are closely connected, and stress can have a significant impact on the balance of hormones in our bodies. By understanding these relations, we can take steps to manage stress and maintain our hormonal balance, leading to better physical and mental health.
If you are stressed and want to consult a doctor to adjust lifestyle behavior for better health, you can come and get advice at Primocare Medical Clinic to join the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine program designed for individuals. We are ready to take care of your health and your mind to be completely strong. You can inquire or make an appointment in advance here.