Hormones, neural hormones, cortisol, catecholamines — all tend to be elevated in stress. Could they in some way be contributing to cardiovascular disease?

 

How to Control an Adrenaline Rush

Excess adrenaline is secreted by the adrenal glands due to elevated stress and can lead to heart disease, sleep disorders and indigestion. In such situations, controlling an adrenaline rush is inevitable. Here are some simple ways to help control it.

Introduction: Adrenaline Rush

Adrenaline, or epinephrine, as it is commonly known in the medical circle, is a hormone released by the adrenal glands. These glands are located above your kidneys and are around 7 cm (approx. 3 inches) in length. Adrenaline also acts as a neurotransmitter and has a significant effect on the lungs, heart and blood vessels. In a healthy body, approximately 75-80 percent adrenaline is released by the adrenal glands. Excess epinephrine secretion is due to chronic stress and controlling an adrenaline rush can be the only solution to the problem.

An adrenaline rush is often explained with the “fight or flight reaction” example, and is nothing but a physiological phenomenon that prepares your body to fight or run away for safety. Ever since man has used stone tools and fire for his safety, an adrenaline rush has always helped him to battle against wild animals and struggle to survive in dire circumstances. In ancient and medieval times, battle cries from soldiers were used to suppress the high adrenaline rush, so that they can stand their ground and fight, not flee away from the arena. In a nutshell, secretion of adrenaline is a natural alarm against unexpected and dangerous situations.

Stress and Adrenaline Rush

In modern times, an adrenaline rush is generally associated with high levels of stress. Yes, the “fight and flight reaction” happens during excessive stress as well. The natural alarm system switches on and adrenaline, along with cortisol, is secreted by the adrenal glands. The flow of adrenaline not only increases your blood pressure, but also elevates your heart rate. Controlling an adrenaline rush is very important because excess adrenaline flow and stress levels can lead to depression, heart diseases, indigestion and sleep disorders.

In a life full of challenges, deadlines, and work pressure, stress is inevitable and so is the excess adrenaline flow. This can have dire effects on your health. You will have to take control of the stressful situations and find ways to control the flow of adrenaline.

Easy Ways to Control Stress and Excess Adrenaline

Meditate and Do Some Simple Breathing Exercises: Meditation relaxes your mind and helps you control stress. Simple breathing exercises can alleviate stress levels. Practice deep breathing. It will help in lowering your adrenaline level. For more on breathing exercises and meditation, please read Useful Tips on Meditation: Achieving Good Health Can Be So Easy!

Get Plenty of Sleep: Higher levels of adrenaline can lead to sleep disorders. Getting plenty of sleep can help reduce stress levels. If you are having sleep problems, then you can try some simple yogic techniques to induce sleep.

Relaxation Techniques: You can practice various physical and mental relaxation techniques to reduce stress levels. Deep breathing and progressive muscular relaxation (PMR) techniques can help in controlling an adrenaline rush. In PMR, you need to tense your muscles (like clenching your hand) for a few minutes and then relax the muscles. A combination of deep breathing and PMR is a potent weapon against stress and high levels of adrenaline. You can also consider professional counseling to control stress.

References

Stress: Constant stress puts your health at risk: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/SR00001

Physical Techniques: Deep Breathing, Progressive Muscular Relaxation & The Relaxation Response: http://www.mindtools.com/stress/RelaxationTechniques/PhysicalTechniques.htm

Adrenaline – A Neurotransmitter: http://www2.ccc.uni-erlangen.de/projects/ChemVis/motm/biofunc.html

Adrenaline Definition: http://groups.molbiosci.northwestern.edu/holmgren/Glossary/Definitions/Def-A/adrenaline.html

Definition of Adrenaline: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2155

 

 

Elevated Cortisol Levels: Overview


Under normal circumstances your body produces more cortisol in the morning than in the evening, giving you the energy that you need to begin your day. In the evening your cortisol level should drop by approximately 90%. Evening is generally the time when the stresses of the day are behind you, the time when you can relax and unwind. Scientific data is showing that elevated cortisol levels are becoming more commonplace

Causes and Development


As important and necessary as cortisol is, you can have too much of it circulating in your system. If you are constantly under stress, your cortisol level can remain elevated over long periods of time.

A recent study found that women who work outside the home and have family responsibilities tend to have elevated evening cortisol levels. Men, on the other hand, have the expected lower cortisol levels in the evening. This difference may reflect the additional work that many women do after they get home from their jobs.

Interestingly, differences between women and men in relationship to cortisol extend even further. One study, which examined the effect of harassment on cortisol levels, noted that recovery from stress was significantly different between men and women. Harassed men actually had the largest increase in cortisol levels, but once the stress was eliminated men returned to normal more quickly than women.

In a scientific investigation of 30,000 women and men in 30 countries, women were shown to be more likely than men to report feeling stress. In response to issues of family, work and money, whether they are in a relationship or not, a parent or not, women are more stressed than men in the same situation. Working women with children were found to have the highest stress levels.

 

Signs and Symptoms


An elevated cortisol level is not something you can immediately feel. If it is elevated for too long, over a period of months or years for example, you may begin to feel its effects because of the negative impact it has on your overall health. Besides impacting the immune system, fertility, and bone health, the list of the risks of high cortisol levels grows longer. New studies demonstrate that elevated cortisol levels can lead to abdominal weight gain, loss of verbal declarative memory (words, names, and numbers), insulin resistance, and Type 2 Diabetes.

Treatment and Prevention


Managing stress is a very important part of your healthcare program. A blood, urine or saliva hormone test for cortisol can serve as a stress barometer, warning you of continual exposure to stress, and therefore to potential disease. Testing will let you know if you need to do something about your stress, such as taking action to change your circumstances, or making strides in new areas of relaxation and stress relief. Once you know your cortisol level you can begin to take stress-reducing measures in your life and protect your long-term health.

Complications


Research now correlates chronically elevated levels of cortisol with blood sugar problems, fat accumulation, compromised immune function, exhaustion, bone loss, and even heart disease. Memory loss has also been associated with high cortisol levels. Continual stress can indeed have a negative impact on your health.

An additional problem of long-term elevations of cortisol is that the adrenal gland may wear itself out and no longer be able to produce even normal levels of cortisol. This is called “adrenal exhaustion” and is associated with man other health problems.

 

 

Does Stress Cause Weight Gain?

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

 

This is an interesting question. Some people do tend to gain weight when under stress, but the cause of this weight gain is likely a mix of hormonal and psychological factors. The body has a system of hormonal checks and balances that may actually promote weight gain when you’re stressed out.

The so-called “stress hormone” cortisol is released in the body during times of stress along with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine that constitute the “fight or flight” response to a perceived threat. Following the stressful or threatening event, epinephrine and norepinephrine levels return to normal while cortisol levels can remain elevated over a longer time period. In fact, cortisol levels can remain persistently elevated in the body when a person is subjected to chronic stress.

Cortisol has many actions in the body, and one ultimate goal of cortisol secretion is the provision of energy for the body. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy, in addition to stimulating insulin release and maintenance of blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions is an increase in appetite. Therefore, chronic stress, or poorly managed stress, may lead to elevated cortisol levels that stimulate your appetite, with the end result being weight gain or difficulty losing unwanted pounds.

Cortisol not only promotes weight gain, but it can also affect where you put on the weight. Researchers have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than in the hips. This fat deposition has been referred to as “toxic fat,” since abdominal fat deposition is strongly correlated with the development of cadiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.

Whether or not your stress levels will result in high cortisol levels and weight gain is not readily predictable. The amount of cortisol secreted in response to stress can vary among individuals, with some persons being innately more “reactive” to stressful events. Studies of women who tended to react to stress with high levels of cortisol secretion showed that these women also tended to eat more when under stress than women who secreted less cortisol. Another study confirmed that women who stored their excess fat in the abdominal area had higher cortisol levels and reported more lifestyle stress than women who stored fat primarily in the hips.

Experts agree that stress management is a critical part of weight-loss regimens, particularly in those who have elevated cortisol levels. Exercise is the best and fastest method for weight loss in this case, since exercise leads to the release of endorphins, which have natural stress-fighting properties and can lower cortisol levels. Activities such as yoga and meditation can also help lower your stress hormone levels. To effectively reduce elevated cortisol due to stress, lifestyle changes are essential.

In addition to possible hormonal causes, many people eat in an attempt to fulfill psychological needs when under stress, which may be another reason some people gain weight when experiencing stress.

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