Stress can directly cause hormone imbalance.
And then hormone imbalance can make you even more stressed out! Let's explore this correlation and ways to break the cycle naturally.
Is Stress-Related Hormone Imbalance Affecting You?
Sometimes stress comes from the outside, like a job, divorce, or caring for family. Sometimes stress comes from the inside, rather than the outside. Fear and uncertainty, attitudes, and perceptions can drive stress levels higher because of an underlying hormonal imbalance.
Those suffering ongoing high-stress levels often suffer from depression, anxiety, mood swings, panic attacks, and many more conditions that make life miserable. However, knowing the root causes of these symptoms can be as easy as knowing your hormone levels. An adrenal stress test and comprehensive sex hormone test can give you insight into the root causes of long-term symptoms.
Canary Club's Advanced Saliva Hormone Profile is a convenient at-home testing kit that analyzes adrenal hormones and reproductive hormones. This stress test measures the adrenal hormones DHEA-S and four samples of Cortisol taken throughout one day. Stress levels also affect our reproductive hormones which are why this hormone profile tests Estradiol (E2), Progesterone (P), and Testosterone (T).
Shortly after you mail your samples into the lab, your detailed report will be emailed to you.
What Hormones are Active in the Stress Response?
Adrenal hormones: Adrenaline and cortisol hormones prepare the body to face dangerous or challenging situations. They increase heart rate and blood pressure, raise blood sugar levels to provide fuel to the brain and muscles, and cause sensations of fear and panic that cause the individual to either confront the threat or run away from it (called the fight or flight response).
Adrenaline's effects are intense and powerful but end quickly, which is why this stress hormone is involved in panic situations and severe short-term anxiety. However effects of cortisol are more prolonged, and continuously high levels of cortisol can cause you to have chronic anxiety, depression, memory loss, and much more.
When the adrenal glands are consistently asked to produce lots of cortisol, over time this can cause adrenal fatigue or adrenal burnout. The adrenal fatigue theory suggests that prolonged exposure to stress could drain the adrenals leading to a low cortisol state. This adrenal depletion can cause brain fog, low energy, depressive mood, salt, and sweet cravings, lightheadedness, and other symptoms hard to pin down.
Sex hormones: Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are also affected by stress. As the body works to produce more adrenal hormones, reproductive hormones take a hit. A prolonged decrease in these hormones can lead to the following health issues:
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
- Depression: Neurotransmitters in the brain — such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — affect feelings of happiness and pleasure and may be out of balance in people with depression. These neurotransmitters can get out of balance when the hormones supporting them are under-produced. As women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men, it has been proposed that the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone contribute to the higher incidence of this potentially debilitating disorder.
- Infertility: Reproductive hormone balance is essential for fertility. The female sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, Luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) must be in the optimum range when trying to conceive.
- Weight Gain or Loss: Adrenal, sex, and thyroid hormones could be the cause of long-term or sudden weight issues. For example, increased cortisol levels can cause high insulin and low blood sugar levels. When this happens, you crave sugar to restore the balance.
- High Blood Pressure: Estrogen raises levels of nitric oxide in the blood, which dilates blood vessels. More open blood vessels lower blood pressure. Estrogen also increases collagen which helps keep blood vessels (and skin!) healthy.
- Sleep Disorders: Insomnia and intermittent sleep can be indicators of hormone imbalance. The female sex hormone progesterone increases the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps promote sleep.
- Muscle and Joint Pain: Estrogen has an anti-inflammatory effect on the whole body. Therefore when estrogen levels are lower, you can experience more muscle and joint pain and decreased mobility.
- Hair Loss: While the androgen hormone testosterone is needed by both males and females, too much testosterone coupled with lower estrogens can lead to thinning hair and hair loss.
- Bloating: Estrogen and progesterone are linked with water retention in women. Progesterone is a natural diuretic; when levels are low, less fluid is moved out of the body.
These symptoms, especially weight and sleep issues, cause further prolonged stress and anxiety, which exacerbates the hormone imbalance that started this whole thing in the first place!
Advanced diagnostic hormone testing provides meaningful insights into your personal hormone production. This can help you and your health care providers to create a strategy addressing the symptoms of hormone imbalance.
In addition, the "sexual hormone deficit," which frequently occurs after menopause in women and andropause in men, negatively affects the endocrine system, neurotransmitter production, the brain, and nervous system, and much more. This can cause depression, memory loss, low energy, insomnia, and other symptoms if left untreated.
Checking Your Levels:
What does the Canary Club Advanced Saliva Profile test for?
How can you know you have an actual hormonal imbalance, other than feeling a bit off your rocker? Our at-home Advanced Saliva Hormone Profile checks your sex and adrenal hormone levels: active levels of estrogen (estradiol), progesterone, testosterone, DHEA-S, and 4 cortisol tests to determine a FULL DAY assessment of your overall stress management. Hormonal symptoms often overlap with one another so a full evaluation of a patient’s overall hormonal profile is critical in diagnosing the core issues.
Test samples are taken from saliva only- no blood spot to worry about. Once you mail in your samples, in just a few days your results are delivered via email in an easy-to-read assessment- not just the numbers but also clearly written evaluations and explanations.
Breaking the Cycle of Stress/Hormone Imbalance, Naturally
Often when we experience anxiety, it is because a hormone is not able to function correctly and is out of balance. In many cases, these situations can be reversed with the help of lifestyle including activities, exercise, and diet. In other situations, these remedies can help ease symptoms while the underlying cause is dealt with.
Lifestyle choices can help reduce the amount of stress in your life, which means less stress for your mind and body to deal with! Here are just a few things you can do to be proactive about stress reduction:
- News media fast: Take a break from the news cycle for a few days. Yes, it can be addictive in these times but you do not need to have constant updates. It will do its thing with or without you. You can always catch up later if you so desire.
- Limit social media: Facebook, Twitter and the like can be quite stressful. First, you're looking at a friend's cute dog, then next thing someone you barely remember from high school shares a disturbing story. It's a rollercoaster ride of emotions that you can easily spare yourself from.
- Go to bed earlier: The earlier you sleep, the better you sleep. Also, nighttime is often when our bad habits take hold. Don't turn on devices after dinner. Take a bath, read a book, snooze away.
- Schedule self-care: Literally block out some "me-time" in your calendar, 2-3x per week. Do what feeds your soul.
Exercise is one of the best drug-free ways to keep stress and anxiety at bay. Not only does exercise give you something else to focus on besides the feelings that are troubling you, but it can also help you manage your weight. Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals released by the glands to help reduce stress and minimize pain. Exercise literally changes your chemistry, changing your mindset, emotions, and is crucial for good health.
Engaging in regular cardio exercise is a great way to lower your adrenaline and cortisol levels and enhance the serotonin in your brain. A muscle workout helps increase the levels of sex hormones, which further improves your mental well-being and more.
All these substances- hormones, neurotransmitters, and endorphins- are already within you! The key is getting your body to produce them in the most optimal way.
A healthy diet is crucial for maintaining hormone balance. A low-fat diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is a great way to maintain a healthy heart and provide proper nutrition to your brain to fight stress.
Eat more whole-grain products, vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, and seeds. Reduce your consumption of high-fat meat, processed sugar, eggs, butter, and cheese to lower your bad cholesterol and prevent toxic substances from reaching your brain. However eating GOOD fats such as avocado, salmon, walnuts and coconut oil boosts the health of your brain, heart, skin, nervous system, and more.
A cause of anxiety for many people is their weight. In some cases, adults and teens can experience much anxiety because of their weight and body shape, and ironically this can lead to conditions within the body that make it even more difficult to lose that weight. Sometimes eliminating or at least reducing causes of anxiety in other areas of life can enable those with weight concerns to better manage their weight in a way that eases the stress that may have been slowing their progress down.
Vitamins and supplements can also be helpful in managing stress response and reducing anxiety. Studies show that vitamin B complex enhances mood and energy. Natural herbs including St. John's Wort, skullcap, and lemon balm are called "nervines" and as the term implies, are soothing for the nervous system as well as relaxing muscle tension and calming the mind.
Of course, before you begin taking anything new you should consult with your doctor. Some supplements can interact with pharmaceuticals, so it is always better to be on the safe side.
To break it down, the healing process can look like this: awareness, knowledge, remedies. By now you are aware, evident by your interest in this article and reading it to the very end! Knowledge through hormone testing. And remedies via lifestyle choice and working with a hormone health professional and other counselors for continued support.
Advanced Saliva Hormone Test: Focuses on sex and adrenal hormones. Estradiol (estrogen), progesterone, testosterone, DHEA-S, and 4x diurnal cortisol.
NeuroAdvanced Profile: Measures major neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine. Hormone add-ons are available for cortisol, melatonin, sex hormones, and/or heavy metals.