Everyone knows that stress levels are highly related to our mental health. With so many commitments to juggle in our lives, we are bound to get stressed. Therefore, it is important to know what stress does to your body and your mental health.
DHEA and Cortisol
When acute stress hits, the adrenals release a number of hormones, including adrenaline, DHEA, and cortisol as part of your “fight-or-flight response.” When the danger subsides, your body’s processes and returns back to normal. Meaning your muscles become relaxed, your breathing and heart rate slows down to their usual rate, and your adrenals reduce stress hormone production. When stress becomes chronic or long term, the cocktail of harmful chemicals that come with it may overwhelm your body and lead to brain health/mental health issues.
When cortisol levels are always heightened, it causes a spike in our blood sugar and insulin levels. This contributes to detrimental changes in the brain such as drops in the calming neurotransmitter serotonin, resulting in a range of psychological issues. Ultimately, high levels of cortisol increase the likelihood of developing lasting psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety, depression and PTSD.
In the body, the hormone insulin is involved in regulating blood sugar levels. The consequence of high insulin levels is that the body switches from breaking down fat in the body to storing that fat which will result in weight problems. One of the main consequences of obesity or chronically consuming a diet high-sugar is a decrease in insulin’s ability to regulate blood sugar.
How do insulin and blood sugar levels affect your mental health? Consumption of sugar or refined carbs causes blood sugar levels to spike excessively which creates the opportunity to crash. This rollercoaster effect can greatly impact your moods and mental wellbeing.
In summary, we need to be aware of how our hormones directly affect so much of our daily function. To better take care of our hormones and ourselves.