Recognize The Signs Of High Stress: 8 High Cortisol Symptoms

Lower My Cortisol Quickly

The price we pay for our fast-paced modern lifestyles is stress as a common part of life. A joint effect of internal and external factors increases our stress levels and makes them a potential catalyst for various diseases. It is hard to pinpoint increased stress levels as a separate issue because their symptoms mask themselves under other problems. 

These symptoms can affect your health without you even realizing it, but recognizing the common ones attributed to stress can help you manage it early. The first step to stress management is awareness.

Here are 8 clear signs that show you are way too stressed out.

1. Body Pain. High stress levels can result in the body starting to break down, which can result in stomach issues, diarrhea, ulcers, muscle pain, chest pain, and palpitations.

Stress prompts muscles to tense up all at once and release once it passes. However, when stress becomes chronic, it can cause the muscles to remain in a constant state of guardedness, which can cause related disorders.

Body Pain

2. Not Sleeping Well. There are a number of remedies for getting a good night’s sleep when tossing and turning become a frequent problem. However, it’s important to get to the source of the issue because sleep can be one of the first things affected by stress.

It’s not something you should ignore. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Stress causes hyperarousal, which can upset the balance between sleep and wakefulness.”

Not Sleeping Well

3. Weight Fluctuations. If you notice a change in your appetite, whether you’re overeating or eating less, it’s a window into one’s physical and emotional body. Stress can slow down the metabolism, which will result in weight gain.

You are what you eat. When your body is too stressed, cells don’t get enough oxygen, which makes it important that you’re putting the right things into your body.

Weight Fluctuations

4. Constant Worrying. At times, stress can feel like it has a hold on your life when the problem won’t escape your thoughts. Whether it’s work, financial problems, or family, this constant worrying won’t come to an end unless you do something about it.

To find a solution, it’s crucial to detach yourself from the problem. Putting yourself in a continuous state of panic won’t solve anything and will only be harder on your mental and physical health.


5. Restlessness. If you find yourself avoiding sitting still to be alone with your own thoughts, this is a major form of being overly stressed. Ignoring problems will only result in them affecting other areas of the body.

Thinking things through, as scary as it might seem, can end up idealizing a solution. Delaying this process will only make things worse down the line for the problem at hand and for your body’s health.


6. Lack Of Patience. It’s easy to identify when others are overly stressed based primarily on how they react with loved ones and close friends. Those who are stressed out are more prone to lash out or get angry abnormally quickly.

Here’s the hardest part about this process. Finding yourself becoming impatient with others is a sign that you need to sit back and analyze the issue. One of the best ways to get through this is to shed the weight you feel by asking someone for help with your issue.


7. Hair Loss. People naturally shed hair daily, but when your body is under constant stress, it can change routine physiological functions. This can cause a greater number of hairs to go into the resting phase at the same time.

Eventually, because of stress, the hair loss can be much more significant than normal. If you begin to notice you’re losing hair more frequently, the source could very well be an emotional issue rather than a physical one.

Hair Loss

8. Loss Of Libido. The increase in stress levels affects the stress hormone secretions responsible for arousal. Stress is naturally exhausting and can result in a lack of desire to become physically intimate with anyone.

It’s a complex combination of elements. Most people experiencing a loss of libido while under stress don’t acknowledge it, which can affect not only them but also their relationships.

Loss Of Libido

How Do You Feel When Your Cortisol Is High?

Everyone can experience increased cortisol from time to time, and the levels of this hormone may even vary throughout the day. A spike in cortisol levels is your body’s first response to threats of danger and harm. However, a consistently increased level of cortisol may be one of the usual complex stress symptoms or a sign of another underlying health issue. 

Cortisol is essential for maintaining your physical well-being, but excessive amounts of it can harm your overall health and lead to unpleasant symptoms in various parts of your body. These symptoms vary depending on the specific cause of your high cortisol levels. In general, these are the most common signs and symptoms indicating that you have too much cortisol:

  • Severe fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Flushed or rounded face
  • Weight gain, especially in the midsection and upper back area
  • Acne
  • Headache
  • Poor focus
  • Irritability
  • Easy bruising
  • High blood pressure

What Is The Most Common Cause Of High Cortisol?

Cortisol has several important effects throughout the human body, but its most well-known function is to regulate your stress response. This hormone is colloquially associated with one’s stress levels and is widely recognized as “the stress hormone.” Therefore, when speaking about stress as the primary cause for fluctuation in cortisol levels, we need to take into consideration the different types of stress, such as:

  • Acute stress: Acute stress is associated with situations of sudden danger within short periods of time. Examples of this include being chased by an animal or barely avoiding a traffic accident. 
  • Chronic stress: You may experience chronic stress symptoms due to ongoing stressful circumstances that cause anxiety and frustration. For instance, dealing with a demanding job or pursuing a hard degree can put you at risk of developing chronically high stress.
  • Traumatic stress: This type of stress occurs after life-threatening events that instill a feeling of helplessness and intense fear. For example, experiencing sexual violence, war, or a natural disaster can result in traumatic stress. Many survivors of such events develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Other than stressful occurrences, a rare condition associated with an abnormal increase of cortisol levels over prolonged periods of time is Cushing’s syndrome. The following factors can lead to constantly high cortisol levels and Cushing’s syndrome:

  • Consuming large amounts of corticosteroid medications (such as dexamethasone, prednisone, and prednisolone) for the treatment of various conditions.
  • Tumors that release the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and are commonly located in the pituitary gland. They can more rarely be found in other organs, such as the lungs. 
  • Abnormal growth of adrenal tissue (hyperplasia) or adrenal gland tumors, leading to excess release of cortisol.

How Can I Lower My Cortisol Quickly?

Significantly increased cortisol levels and Cushing’s syndrome require advice from a professional and medical treatment, which can involve medications and/or surgery. However, there are several everyday tips you can try to lower cortisol levels and maintain them at a normal range, such as:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Following a regular exercise routine
  • Limiting anxiety and stressful thinking patterns
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises
  • Maintaining healthy relationships with loved ones
  • Participating in fun activities and hobbies
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