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The Big Picture: Why Stress Causes Your Body to Break Down

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:
stress

This post is a non-technical summary of why stress is a root cause of chronic health issues. The reason why this is important is that if you have an issue caused by stress, you can look at this list and see which cause is most significant for you.

About 80% of my clients have a health breakdown after a stressful period. I have thought about this question a lot and here is the elevator summary.

Since this is the case, an overactive nervous system makes up one of the five pillars that I see in chronic health conditions.

Read my post on CRH and my main stress post to understand the details more and for references.

An overactive nervous system:

1) Lowers immune function overall – making you more susceptible to infections and toxins.
2) Increases inflammation. Your stress response increases your immune system in some ways that make it function well in the short term but is damaging in the long term. (For example, CRH causes increased Th1 dominance, TLR-4, Nf-kB, IL-1b, IL-6, TNF, MHC-II (HLA-DR) and ICAM-1.)
3) Disrupts your sleep. This causes a bunch of downstream problems because sleep is critical to so many other functions. Stress decreases slow wave sleep.
4) Disrupts your circadian rhythm (which causes a bunch of downstream problems).
5) Causes excess glutamate and cell death (via CRH, Kynurenine).
6) Causes gut problems mainly via CRH. This includes slower gut flow, and less blood flow to the gut, which will cause food sensitivities and inflammation from food. Also, CRH likely causes less cannabinoid activation in the gut. CRH causes local inflammation in the gut. An overactive nervous system, over time, causes HCl production to decrease. The result is food sensitivities and even more inflammation.
7) Decreases levels of good hormones and increases some bad ones, because they get shunted to cortisol, and because of circadian and sleep disruption. Also, CRH will directly cause hormonal dysregulation. The result is lower GnRH, LH, FSH, Pregnenolone, DHEA, Testosterone, Growth Hormone, Thyroid Hormones (T3, T4, TSH) and higher Prolactin and Estrogen
8) Causes less blood flow in certain regions like your gut and liver. Less blood flow causes low oxygen and less nutrient delivery… Your blood gets shunted to your heart and muscles and your stomach, liver, etc… don’t have what it needs.
9) Causes neurotransmitters to become less sensitive and imbalanced. Stress will cause neurotransmitter resistance (Glutamate, Serotonin, GABA), and lower dopamine and acetylcholine.
In the short term you might feel dizzy or fuzzy, likely because of less blood flow to the brain and too much dopamine (See COMT gene).
Chronic stress will also cause neurotransmitter resistance, inflammation, impaired memory and lower dopamine, acetylcholine, LTP, BDNF, neurogenesis and dendritic branching. Stress will also cause oxidative stress in your hippocampus or memory center via CRH.
Other negative effects:

  • Cortisol Resistance
  • Obesity – raises blood sugar, insulin, makes you hungry
  • Depression – as a result of CRH, chronic HPA activation, dynorphin, lower BDNF, lower neurogenesis, lower dopamine, and GABA, serotonin and glutamate resistance.
  • Heart damage – by increased adrenaline, oxygen demand on the body, spasm of the heart blood vessels, and electrical instability in the heart. It also lowers heart rate variability and resting heart rate and increasing blood pressure

Take the Plunge

The reason why I release posts about my attitude towards life is that it’s the only one that works. If you adopt mainstream self-help attitudes of being limitless and positive thinking/self-talk, you are destined to continue a life of anxiety.

You must take the plunge and simply stop caring about everything, and let fate take over. People are afraid to do this, as was I, but once you let go, you’re free and then you can truly unleash the creativity that you are naturally capable of. Remember, there’s nowhere to go, nothing to do or accomplish. You’re it.

About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

As a kid, Joe suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, mood and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine.Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers.Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO of SelfHacked, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer.His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.

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