Quick Facts | The Cortisol-Stress Connection
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Quick Facts

the cortisol connection

Excessive cortisol can create a broad range of undesirable side effects, including but not limited to:

Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body.
Excess stomach fat is associated with heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL)
Elevated blood glucose which leads to insulin resistance
High blood pressure
The “adrenaline rush” is kept from going out of control
Energy is released for immediate activity
Awareness is enhanced to remember the solution to the problem
Immune response is dampened so you don’t feel sick
Hormones in the brain that released cortisol are turned down to terminate the stress response

Physical Signs of Chronic Stress

Joint pain
Muscle weakness
Chronic fatigue
Digestive problems
Excess belly fat

Emotional Signs of Chronic Stress

Feeling loss of control
Craving carbohydrates
Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep

Signs & Situations for Chronic Stress

Emotional over-eaters
Illness after finals or completing a stressful project
Get sick when you go on vacation
Mental preoccupation with a stressful event

Source: Griffin J., Ojeda S. Textbook of endocrine physiology, 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996

Diseases Indicated by Excessive Abdominal Fat

Cardiovascular disease
Insulin resistance

Afflictions of Obesity

Sleep apnea
Elevated blood pressure
Abnormal heart rhythms
Abnormal cholesterol levels
Premature death

Tips for dealing with stress

Don’t worry about things you can’t control, such as the weather.
Solve the little problems. This can help you gain a feeling of control.
Prepare to the best of your ability for events you know may be stressful, such as a job interview.
Try to look at change as a positive challenge, not as a threat. Work to resolve conflicts with other people.
Talk with a trusted friend, family member or counselor.
Set realistic goals at home and at work.
Avoid over-scheduling.
Exercise on a regular basis.
Eat regular, well-balanced meals and get enough sleep.
Participate in something you don’t find stressful, such as sports, social events or hobbies.

Source: American Academy of Family Physicians