Stress is normally a mental response to stimulation such as worry, a chaotic environment, responsibilities that are difficult to handle and the constant bombardment of negative and toxic news. One way or the other humans have always experienced stress but nowadays, the level of stress an average human being experiences has risen to an alarming level. It is a biological reaction to certain situations. Stress is the ancient reptilian response called “flight or fight” and in the process various hormones and chemicals are released triggering an alarm system inside the body. If you’re worried about deadlines, obstacles, interpersonal relationship problems, financial burdens or sudden emergencies, your body responds with the stress situation. Cortisol is the main hormone that is released when you experience stress. It is also called the body’s main stress hormone. Occasional stress is not bad because it is your natural reaction to adverse situations, but constant stress can cause high blood pressure and other illnesses. Hence, it is very important to get a stress test done.
In medical terms, a stress test is also called a cortisol test because it is the main hormone that is released and activated during a stressful situation. Cortisol needs to perform a very compressed series of tasks when you are in stress. Since you need to be alert and active, it rises glucose levels in your blood so that your brain can use it. Non-essential functions are put on hold so that all your physical resources are focused on handling the current situation. Even your immune system is adjusted. Cortisol controls your mood, motivation, and fear levels so that you can give an appropriate response to the stressful situation. Since your entire biological system goes through a trauma, a repeat excitement of the cortisol hormone begins to take its toll.
Here are a symptoms that show that your body is producing excessive cortisol:
High blood pressure
Anxiety or depression
Irregular menstrual periods
Constipation, bloating or diarrhea
There are many more symptoms that can be associated with increased levels of cortisol in your body.
Why is it important or essential to go for a stress test or a cortisol test?
The rising levels of cortisol can help you take precautions. The brain needs glucose to function. When the brain thinks that there is an alarming (stressful) situation, it instructs the body to produce more cortisol and this cortisol in return produces more sugar needed by the brain. Your body goes into a small trauma. Remember that when your brain is processing a thought by itself it cannot know whether the situation is really happening, or you are just imagining it. All the reactions happening inside your body are the same when something is really happening. Hence, whether you are imagining a stressful situation or you’re actually going through a stressful situation, your cortisol levels rise, and this raises the levels of glucose.
Not medically testing your stress levels or cortisol levels may give rise to the following illnesses:
Type II diabetes
High blood pressure
Since the problem of stress is mostly controlled by your brain, the best way of finding whether you’re going through chronic stress is going for a cortisol test. Other than that, since constant tension can also increase your cholesterol levels, you should also get a lipid profile test. A diabetes test is advised because the rising level of cortisol also raises your blood sugar levels. Chronic stress also messes with your thyroid levels so your doctor may also suggest a thyroid test along with other tests affecting other parts of your body.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I bring down my stress levels?
Here are a few things you can do: Observe triggers of stress and try to resolve them. Eat and drink in a healthy manner. Exercise, as it releases toxins. Curb down consumption of tobacco, alcohol and nicotine products. Have a very strong value system. Set realistic goals. Learn mindfulness. Practice meditation. Increase your friend circle. Develop a passion. Learn yoga Regularly get stress -related tests done so that you know the exact situation.
What happens if I ignore my stress levels or taking a stress test?
Initially when you ignore stress, your body may show the following signs of stress and trauma: Nausea Indigestion Heart palpitations Aches and pains Headaches Slow healing wounds Insomnia Suicidal thoughts And many other problems. In the beginning, these problems themselves may not sound alarming, but very easily they can lead to other problems like diabetes, hypertension, chemical imbalances in the brain, and heart disease.
How does stress lead to type II diabetes?
Your cortisol level increases when you are under stress. The purpose of cortisol is to arrange glucose for the brain. In the ancient times when the human species lived as hunters, gatherers and scavengers, the threat levels were quite high – a little bit of delay in your reaction, and you could be food for a lion or a sabertooth. We no longer live in such dangerous times, but our threat mechanism doesn’t understand that. Hence, whenever you are under stress, cortisol produces extra glucose. This disturbs the insulin balance because insulin is supposed to handle glucose and convert into energy. Hence, greater levels of glucose and an overworked or confused insulin lead to type II diabetes.
Can stress level be checked by a blood test?
The stress test in itself cannot be checked by a blood test. There can be a series of tests recommended by your doctor that can reveal the side effects of continuing stress. For example, a blood glucose test can reveal if you are inching towards type II diabetes. A blood profile test can also give you a lipid profile or a thyroid profile. The level of cortisol can also indicate stress. So, there are different stress tests representing various ailments being caused due to stress.
Can my eating and drinking habits cause stress?
They can. For example, spicy food puts strain on your digestion system, and this makes you uncomfortable and even without knowing, your body and brain become stressed. Unhealthy food causes sleeplessness and this can lead to stress. Alcohol consumption can also lead to stress and so does smoking. Aerated drinks and junk foods can give you sudden sugar spikes and this can lead to stress. Hence, if you have been indulging in these activities, you should urgently go for a stress test.