All About the Endocrine Stress System
The Endocrine Stress System
To grasp the concept of how your body reacts to stress and how it protects you, let’s take a quick look at the endocrine system.
On the offensive line for stress are three endocrine glands: the ovaries, adrenals, and thyroid. These three glands work together and are inseparable. Also included in the stress management system for women are neurochemicals in the brain, the gastrointestinal system, nervous system, and, of course, the human psyche, or will.
When your body is under stress, high levels of stress-modulating hormones and neurotransmitters (such as cortisol, norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin) are released. This is a natural and healthy response to a stressful situation. Once the event passes, your body returns to a state of non-stress, and your hormone and neurotransmitter levels decline. However, if you’re dealing with continuous stress, your body will not be able to return to a relaxed, non-stressed state. Instead, you will continue to produce stress-regulating hormones and neurotransmitters to assist with the constant movement between one event and the next. You can probably guess by now where this leads . . .
“But is stress really that big of a deal?” People ask me this all the time. “An emotional breakdown isn’t going to kill me,” they say. And ignoring the fact that they’re wrong about that for now, I like to point out that stress has more than just emotional effects. If you’ve been exposed to continuous high levels of stress hormones, chemicals, and neurotransmitters, over time, your body will move into a state of malfunction, adversely affecting your endocrine system, brain, nervous system, and metabolism. This, in turn, causes your hormones and transmitters to become depleted, resulting in numerous detrimental and unwanted symptoms. The entire endocrine system is interconnected and always seeking optimal balance, so when we have a problem with burnout, we need to address the entire system.