Dr. James L. Wilson is an expert on adrenal fatigue, a topic of great importance to people who experience regular or chronic stress from being freaked out and emotionally overwhelmed.
According to Dr. Wilson’s article about adrenal fatigue, “every time you experience any kind of stress, whether internal, like a sore throat, or external, like an angry teenager, a chain reaction is triggered that prepares you to physically respond to the stressor. It starts when the hypothalamus in your brain is alerted to a threat to your homeostasis. Your hypothalamus then signals the pituitary gland to activate stress hormone production by your adrenal glands. Adrenal hormones, particularly cortisol, affect every cell and system in your body.”
“After the immediate stress passes, or if cortisol get too high, this same system alerts your hypothalamus to decrease adrenal hormone production. As your stress hormones decrease, other systems and metabolic functions return to normal. Known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, balanced functioning of this stress response regulator is essential to your ability to cope with stress and maintain wellbeing during stressful times.
Adrenal Fatigue & Cortisol Levels
“If adrenal resources become depleted by frequently triggered demands of stress, the adrenal glands can dysfunction, resulting in adrenal fatigue and reduced cortisol levels. This is common in stressful times, but if the adrenal glands do not keep pace with the demands and adrenal fatigue continues, the resulting suboptimal output of adrenal hormones can have a number of adverse consequences for health, as well as exacerbate pre-existing acute illness and chronic health conditions such as hypoglycemia, allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, inflammation, hypothyroidism, PMS, difficult menopause, and addiction.”
“Adrenal fatigue leaves people tired (especially in the morning and mid-afternoon), foggy headed, and often trying to keep going with caffeine and salty/high fat/sweet snacks. It becomes harder to mount an adequate stress response or raise blood sugar to generate energy. Stamina, quality of sleep, immunity, mood, and libido can all decline.”
Balancing on the Cortisol Tightrope
It is essential to your overall health and ability to handle stress that adrenal glands aren’t over stressed, function soundly and stay in balance. Many of the same principles for promoting and maintaining this healthy balance apply to both sides of the cortisol tightrope.