Copyright 2011. Roberta Shapiro, M.Ed., Psychotherapist Miami. All rights reserved.
Our bodies have a built-in mechanism often referred to as the “stress response” which helps protect us from the effects of acute, immediate stress. This process involves several hormones in the adrenal gland. Following the immediate “adrenal rush,” we experience a massive release of cortisol (or stress hormone).
This type of rush, or short-term burst of cortisol are necessary to help us recover from the effects of stress. They boost blood sugar levels, providing immediate energy. They bolster immune responses in the short-term. They pull calcium from our bones, making it available to the muscles for immediate use. Cortisol reduces our response to pain, keeping us focused on survival.
In today’s stressful situations such as job loss and financial insecurity, coupled with biological stressors such as obesity and environmental toxins, this type of chronic stress means that we experience chronic cortisol elevation. In layman’s terms, what this actually means that these elevated levels never get a chance to return to normal. This produces a major problem that threatens our health and longevity.
Prolonged cortisol elevations due to chronic overexposure can have devastating effects, these include:
- elevated blood sugar
- substantial loss of calcium from bones
- depressed immune system
- high blood pressure
- loss of muscle mass
- increased fat accumulation
- loss of cognitive function (for example: difficulty thinking or concentrating, episodic memory loss, episodic memory gap, confusion, dramatic changes in emotional status)
[ I’ve been in private practice in Miami Beach for many years, I specialize in cognitive therapy. Now more than ever, I see more and more patients who come in for therapy dealing with cognitive issues].
The main question at hand is this, how can we find the balance between preserving the beneficial effects of short-term cortisol elevations in response to acute, dangerous stress, while taming down the dangerous effects of chronic, long-term cortisol elevations?
- If you’re able to afford it, I strongly recommend you see a therapist. I have personally seen the positive effects cognitive therapy has had on my patients.
- If therapy sessions are out of reach at the moment (as it is for many people in today’s economic climate), download a FREE copy of my eBook, The Over View of Anxiety, and the 27 Best Ways to Handle Anxiety. I’m confident you’ll find useful information.
- There’s a new plant derived herb I read about (read some great reviews about) called Rhodiola– it improves resistance to stress. It has been shown to balance out stress response, restore vital organ function,, and boost immunity.
If you have a question for me, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.