Stress and anxiety can be a catalyst for a range of health problems including depression, poor concentration, low energy, insomnia, difficulty losing weight and reduced fertility. In this busy and demanding world, it is common to become stressed through work, family, and other life worries. In addition to emotional stress, physical stressors include things like poor diet, over-exercising and trauma, such as surgery.
Hormones play a big part in controlling the stress response, in particular, the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol.
Cortisol is a glucocorticoid that is produced in the adrenal gland and is needed for everyday tasks requiring energy, immune function, and heightened cognitive ability. Cortisol is also part of the ‘fight or flight’ response to a perceived danger that at one time could be a life saver. In modern times however, chronic activation of the adrenal gland due to sustained stress is having a major negative impact on health.
Cortisol has far reaching effects; too much can inhibit thyroid function, lower the production of sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone), disrupt metabolism (making it hard to lose weight and to control blood glucose levels), and lead to high blood pressure and weakened immunity.
Normally, cortisol runs on a daily “circadian” rhythm, to provide us a boost at the right time of day.
Cortisol levels should be high in the morning as the days begins, but decline towards the end of the day in preparation for sleep. The pattern of cortisol secretion is therefore important; measurements of cortisol should take place at multiple time-points over the course of a day to assess normal fluctuations. If cortisol levels remain high during the night or take a long time to lower, this can cause difficulties sleeping (and frustratingly add to those symptoms of stress and anxiety).
Melatonin is produced by a small gland in the brain called the pineal gland, and regulates sleep patterns.
Melatonin production is governed by daylight; when it gets dark it is turned on, in the morning when the sun comes up, melatonin production is turned off. This not only explains the difficulty waking up on dark winter mornings but the problems that night shift workers can face sleeping during daylight hours. Melatonin may also function to strengthen the immune system and combat inflammation.
Single or multi-hormone saliva test kits offered by TestoChecker can help understand current levels of hormones that are connected with stress, anxiety and sleep.
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Alternatively, custom made kits can be ordered to tailor tests to your specific needs.