When I began reading about cortisol, “the Stress Hormone”, I became concerned when reading that bipolar patients had poorer health with high and low levels. Normal levels of cortisol did not affect most other bipolar patients.
The following is from psychologytoday.com –
Cortisol: Public Enemy #1
“The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on.”
“Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.”
“Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He pubished his revolutionary findings in a simple seventy-four line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).”
“Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of the general adaption syndrome. Once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action—but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.”
“Eustress creates a “seize-the-day” heightened state of arousal, which is invigorating and often linked with a tangible goal. Cortisol returns to normal upon completion of the task. Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn’t provide an outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire.”