• Is Stress Killing You?

    by Dr. Susan Sklar
    on Apr 13th, 2017

Many of us live under excessive stress on a chronic basis, taking an often undiagnosed toll on our health. At next month’s event we will focus on stress hormones and health. An important part of knowing whether stress is killing you is learning how your adrenal glands impact your health.


What is Adrenal Fatigue? Are you feeling tired for no reason? Do you need coffee and energy drinks to keep going? Do you have trouble sleeping? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. This condition affects over 80 per cent of people at some point in their lives. The lifestyle experienced by our ancestors no longer exists. The way we live has changed, but our bodies haven’t.

What are the Adrenal Glands? These small triangular glands are located on the top of your kidneys. When your adrenal glands fail to keep pace with the stress in your life, adrenal fatigue may occur. These glands produce estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline, cortisol and other chemicals. These chemicals control your immune system and affect the way your body responds to stress.

What is Cortisol? When you’re under stress, the adrenal glands help you out by releasing cortisol which increases your pain threshold and energize your body. This is great in the short run, like if you are out in the forest escaping a predator, like our ancestors. However, when stress lasts for several weeks or months, like modern times, your body gets flooded with adrenaline and cortisol. As a result, you may gain abdominal fat and feel hungry all the time. High cortisol may cause intense cravings for sugar or salt, binge eating, insomnia, memory problems and low blood sugar levels. Persistent high cortisol shrinks your brain, thins your bones and withers your muscles—not good for long term health.

What Causes Adrenal Fatigue? If stress continues for a long time, the adrenal glands become depleted. You will experience mental fatigue, body aches, and low energy levels. Over time, this can lead to severe health problems, including depression, anxiety, autoimmune disorders, low libido, and hormonal imbalances. Women are particularly affected by chronic stress. They often have a full or part time job, take care of children, and do most of the household chores. Combine these competing responsibilities with an unbalanced diet, hormonal imbalances, and poor sleep- – and you have a recipe for adrenal fatigue.

What Can You Do About It? Making small lifestyle changes can help you overcome stress and keep your adrenal glands healthy. An evaluation of adrenal function is necessary to understand the type and severity of adrenal problems. After confirming a diagnosis, a healing program is started. This consists of vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, hormone treatments and lifestyle counseling. Treating adrenal fatigue increases energy, health and enjoyment in life.

At the Sklar Center Stress, Hormones, and Health event, we will be giving you a stress level self-assessment and teaching you simple steps to lower the damaging effects of stress on your health.

Author Dr. Susan Sklar

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Long Beach, CA 90815