by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
“If only I had the energy I used to…” We’ve probably all said these words at some point. And at our practice, we’re continuing to see an epidemic of women suffering from constant stress that leads to high cortisol levels, adrenal imbalance and complete exhaustion!
In addition to fatigue, women with adrenal imbalance may experience weakness, moodiness or depression, hair loss, weight gain and dozens of other symptoms — some very serious.
Symptoms and health risks of sustained high cortisol levels
- Fatigue and weakness
- Suppression of the immune system
- Muscle and bone loss
- Moodiness or depression
- Skin problems
- Hair loss
- Autoimmune disorders
- Insulin resistance
- Thyroid imbalance
- Weight gain
- Aches and pains from inflammation
- Lower sex drive
Do you suffer from adrenal imbalance? Find out now with our Adrenal Health Profile.
That’s why every woman who comes to our clinic with any of these symptoms undergoes a series of tests that evaluate markers of stress, including cortisol and DHEA levels. The results — in over thousands of cases — are remarkably consistent: only 20–25% have cortisol levels consistent with healthy adrenal function, while 75–80% suffer impaired function, in various patterns ranging from mild to more serious.
At Women to Women, we describe this as adrenal imbalance or adrenal dysfunction, although you may have also heard it called “adrenal fatigue,” “adrenal exhaustion,” or “adrenal burnout.” It occurs when the adrenal glands are putting out the wrong levels of stress hormones — either too low or too high — in relation to the amount that’s needed. This mismatch often results in troubling symptoms.
If you’re like many women, you probably can’t imagine how it’s even possible for you to reduce stress and the negative effects it has on your body. But let me assure you, we can show you how to get you back to feeling as energetic and vibrant as you ever have!
How chronic stress leads to high cortisol, adrenal imbalance and severe symptoms
Are you stressed around the clock? Most women today are — whether the stress is routine or dramatic, physical or emotional, perceived or real, terror or joy.
With stress, your adrenals rally your body into a “fight or flight” survival response by increasing adrenaline and cortisol production. No matter what the cause of the stress, your body sees it as an emergency.
In its normal function, cortisol helps us meet these challenges by converting fats and proteins into energy, keeping us alert, balancing electrolytes, calibrating heart beat and pressure, and counteracting inflammation. In the short run, that’s great — even protective and restorative.