We all know stress is bad for us, yet many of us wear it like a badge of honor. See if this sounds familiar:

Dude: “OMG, I’m so stressed out! I’m working 14 hour days and haven’t used my vacation days for two years now, but hey – sometimes you just gotta keep your eye on the prize, right? Hey, you still seeing that guy?”
 
Dudette: “Nah. We tried to make it work, but it was such a headache. Relationships are just too stressful. Plus, who has time for a relationship when you’re on a deadline and you’ve got the boss lady to impress?”

You know the drill.

Many of us are stress addicts. We claim to want inner peace, but if life gets too peaceful, we go seeking our next hit of our drugs of choice – cortisol and epinephrine. It’s almost as if being stressed makes us feel important, valuable, and useful. What we forget is that we’re already worthy souls deserving of love and a sense of worth, simply because we are all little sparks of divinity, shining our lights on the planet.

Why Should We Avoid Stress?

Our bodies know how to heal themselves. In my new book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, I share boatloads of data about the placebo effect, which provides concrete proof that the body is equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that are under the control of our brilliant minds.

Our bodies know how to fix broken proteins, kill cancer cells, retard aging, and fight infection. They even know how to heal ulcers, make skin lesions disappear and knit together broken bones!

But here’s the kicker – those natural self-repair mechanisms don’t work if you’re stressed! No wonder Dude and Dudette wind up sick or injured!

10 Signs You Have WAY Too Much Cortisol

So how do you know if you’re a stress addict? Here are 10 signs that you’ve made cortisol your drug of choice.

1. You’re not sleeping well.

Cortisol levels are supposed to drop at nighttime, allowing your body to relax and recharge. But if your cortisol levels are too high, you might notice that, even if you’ve been tired all day, you get a second wind right around bedtime. Then you toss and turn all night – and feel tired again the next day.

2. Even when you sleep well, you’re still tired.

Over time, high levels of cortisol deplete the adrenal glands and predispose you to chronic fatigue. So if you feel like your get up and go got up and went, you’re probably stressed.

3. You’re gaining weight, especially around your abdomen, even when you eat well and exercise.

Cortisol tends to make you thick around the middle, even when you’re doing everything “right.”

4. You catch colds and other infections easily.

Cortisol deactivates your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms, which means that your immune system which is perfectly designed by nature to keep you healthy goes caput, leaving you vulnerable to every cootie you encounter.

5. You crave unhealthy foods.

Cortisol raises your blood sugar, putting you at risk of diabetes. High glucose levels then bump up your insulin levels, which then drop your blood sugar – and all of a sudden – yes, you guessed it – you’re struck with wild cravings for Twinkies.

6. You experience backaches and headaches.

When your cortisol levels are high over a long period of time, your adrenal glands start to get depleted. This raises prolactin levels, increasing the body’s sensitivity to pain, such as backaches and muscle aches. Excessive cortisol also hypersensitizes the brain to pain, such that even the slightest twinge can excite the nerves of the brain, causing headaches.

7. Your sex drive is in the crapper.

Consider cortisol the anti-Viagra.  When stress hormones are high, libido-inducing hormones like testosterone drop and voila… nothing.

8. Your gut acts up.

Your gastrointestinal system is very sensitive to stress hormones like cortisol.  You might experience nausea, heartburn, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or constipation as a result of too many stress hormones.
 
9. You feel anxious.

Cortisol and epinephrine can lead to jitters, nervous stomach, feelings of panic, even paranoia.

10. You feel blue.

High levels of cortisol suppress production of serotonin, and next thing you know, you’re awash in doom and gloom.

Sound familiar?

Adrenal Fatigue

When your cortisol levels are bumped up, day after day, your adrenal glands, responsible for the production of cortisol, get pooped. Precursor hormones required for cortisol production get depleted. And boom – you’re looking at full blown adrenal collapse. (Read more about adrenal fatigue here).

Write Your Own Prescription

Ready to go to rehab for your cortisol addiction? Learn more about how to reduce stress responses, increase relaxation responses, make your own Diagnosis, write your own Prescription, and implement the 6 Steps to Healing Yourself on my blog at LissaRankin.com or in Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself (Order it here.)

Are You Stressed?

Tell us how you measured up in the comments below?

Trying to relax,

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161 Comments

  1. Jo Post

    This is my problem. Two years ago my 31 year old sister in law had a massive stroke, then two months later, my 80 year old mother in law had a stroke. It was too much on my system and I started having panic attacks. Every slight twinge in my head, every ache, it didn’t matter — I was having a stroke and I was going to die. My poor husband was ready to lock me up. I am also a T2 diabetic on top of it. I spent time in the ER where after hours of tests, I was giving a shot of Adivan and sent home. My girlfriend gave me your book and I’m reading it now. It is better, but I have all the signs of over cortisol dumps into my system (oh I don’t have a thyroid either). I’m trying to get myself straightened out, but it has been hard. I still panic when I get a twinge, but I have taken to yelling at myself – literally if I can — to knock it off, I’ll be fine. But there are times I can’t do that and I set and dwell on it and panic. I don’t want to take (have in the past) anxiety medications and I want to stop panicking and stressing all the time. My life in that respect is in a shambles and I don’t know how to get out of it. Thank you for your gift in the book. It gives me hope as I continue to read.

    Reply
    • disqus_VCaWz6fS9j

      Jo,
      I am so sorry for all of your suffering. I have some similar challenges, and mind-body methods, meditation, and the like have helped. My newest tool is Peter Levine’s “Healing Trauma” book and CD. Also, Dr. Herbert Bensen’s old-but-still-relevant Beyond the Relaxation Response has a very practical and accessible method for resetting the body’s flight-or-fight response in as little as twenty minutes a day. There are no magic bullets, but every trick and tool that allows us more peace and less fear and panic is a huge blessing.

      Wishing you health and happiness,

      Kris McGuffie

      Reply
      • Carolyn

        I went to a Dr.Miller in my twenties, who gave me a tape with Dr.Benson’s relaxation response-what a life saver that was.I am glad that your are healing. I too have PTSD, but the older that I get, the more I just want to get on with my life.I have managed to put my trauma behind me(at the age of 51)and plan on living the rest of my life in peace.Good luck to you,
        Carolyn in New Hampshire

        Reply
      • Jo Post

        Kris — thank you for your response. Amazing, I thought I was alone in this anxiety walk but after being referred to Lissa’s book by a friend, I think knowing I’m not alone is helping! I’ll check out your recommendations. I need to learn to meditate for one thing! And I am also going to go back to monthly massages.

        Reply
    • Carolyn

      I once had out of control panic attacks as well-the secret is not to yell at yourself,but to gently remind yourself that you are not going to die, and that this is only a panic attack….that way, more cortisol won’t flood your system, because you are being gentle with yourself..You need to “float through” a panic attack -trying to avoid one will only make it worse and flood you with more epinephrine and cortisol. I was ill for over ten years,healing myself, and consider myself a really good resource on the subject. I plan on reading Lissa’ book as part of my Capstone for grad school in health-ed and hope it will help you too. My book that saved me was “Hope and Help for your Nerves” by Dr.Claire Weekes. I don’t even know if it is in print anymore, as twenty-plus years ago.Good luck to you…you have the power to heal yourself!

      Carolyn in New Hampshire

      Reply
      • Jo Post

        Carolyn, Thank you for your response. The book is still in print! I went to B&N and they even have it in Nook format! I will check it out when I finish with Lissa’s.

        Reply
  2. disqus_VCaWz6fS9j

    Lissa,
    I have a question for you. It is possible to have cortisol levels high enough to cause imbalance and to create troublesome symptoms, while at the same time get a “normal” reading on a cortisol test through standard endocrinological testing methods? I suspect I fit into this category, but I would love more evidence to support or disprove my theory!

    Thank you for everything that you are doing for all of us and our health care system.

    Kris McGuffie

    Reply
  3. Amanda Woomer

    Every single symptom you mention (besides number 4; my immune system must be amazing), I have. I am a PhD student, and I’m tired of being sick. But everyone says “You’re almost there. Just do it.”

    Reply
    • Molly Whipple Harris

      Amanda, congrats on working toward your PhD! I agree with you that people encourage us to push through, even when our bodies are screaming “NO!” I don’t believe in “no pain, no gain” – I believe in listening to our bodies and the subtle cues that tell us really important information.

      Good luck to you and cheers to your health!

      Reply
  4. Master Intuitive Coach Carolin

    Most of us have learned to live with these symptoms thinking they are “normal” but thankfully (and thanks to you Lissa) the word is getting out!

    Reply
  5. agfischer

    I can answer yes to all 10 questions. I think I have some work to do. The sleep issues had never been a problem for me until my Dad passed away in March. Now, I need assistance to go to sleep and stay asleep but I still feel tired no matter what. I think I need to get your book….

    Reply
  6. Molly Whipple Harris

    THANK YOU! I’ve lately been wondering if I’m addicted to cortisol, but thought it was a silly hypothesis. Good to know listening to my body and instincts pay off. NOW, to do the important work of breaking free from the addiction. I’m starting with working on my consciousness and being present in each and every moment. Then I think I’ll order your book and, when it comes, sit down with some really yummy herbal tea and read a while!

    Reply
  7. Deane Alban

    Immediately before reading this post, I cut out a magazine headline to tape on my desk that says:

    “All Stress Comes From Resisting What Is”

    This statement is profound in its simplicity and intuitively I believe it to be true. I hope this helps someone else who is stressed.

    Reply
    • Lissa_Rankin

      Love that!

      Reply
    • Sarah McKay

      *waves* “hi Deane!!” LOVE the headline cutout. So true, but so hard to apply at times. xx

      Reply
  8. kitty

    i scored 9 out of 10

    Reply
  9. Brenda Williams Vasquez

    I have them all, except frequent infections. However, I receive weekly infusions of immune globlin for immune mediated motor neuropathy. I think this is a big problem for me because I’ve been stressed for 30 years. Is there a way to find out for sure?

    Reply
  10. Jed Diamond

    Lissa, this is the kind of information I wish I had known about when I was younger. It took me a long time to learn the value of relaxation. Like a lot of men I know and work with, part of the male role is to wear stress as a badge of honor, commitment, and courage. I was brought up to believe that it was manly to work hard and long, even if it killed you. The other option was to feel like you were a coward. One of the most helpful things my wife ever said to me was, “I find you so sexy when you relax more and take care of yourself.” If more men got those messages from those we love, maybe we could get off the stress treadmill and learn to live longer, healthier, and more joyfully.

    Reply
    • Lissa_Rankin

      Amen, Jed.

      Reply
  11. Adrianna

    Lissa, thank you so much for covering this topic! I’ve been experiencing adrenal fatigue for a few years after some very stressful times. I still have it. The doctors were useless. They didn’t recognize it at all, even though I had my cortisol tested. I did a blood test through my naturopath and it showed that my corstisol is below the normal range. I do get the anxiety and stomach challenges, too. I’m taking adrenal supplements with all sorts of adaptogens, a vitamin B complex and now I’m thinking of getting a DHEA supplement (a natural one) since my blood work from over a year ago showed that my DHEA was very low for my age group. I am pretty nervous about managing my adrenal fatigue and rebuilding my glands considering that I just started a new job, too. I’m also at the point where I get hypoglycemic very suddenly and will faint if I don’t eat right away. I follow a very clean and healthy diet (green smoothies, no coffee, alcohol, junk, processed foods and minimal intake of sugar).

    Reply
    • Lissa_Rankin

      Good point.

      Yes- cortisol levels spike- and over time, adrenals get depleted. So cortisol levels are not necessarily a reliable marker of stress. Sometimes they can be high- sometimes low- and sometimes, because they fluctuate by time of day- you can catch them in between fluctuations when they’re perfectly normal.

      Symptoms are more reliable than blood tests for this, in my opinion.

      Reply
  12. Cathy

    As usual, thanks Lissa……

    Here is a tough situation for you.
    1)
    I work as a customer service rep taking calls from angry and not so
    angry customers regarding an issue that the company keeps doing but
    refuses to fix and we basically lie and tell the customer that it will
    be fixed.
    2) I took this job because it was all I could get when I
    had to quit my normal job due to a neck injury because it allows me to
    work from home. I have had this neck problem for over 20 years but just
    recently it has forced me to work at home. I know, I know, my body is
    yelling at me but now it is yelling more because the job that I thought
    would help is actually making it worse and I now I have no alternative
    but to stay and collect the meager pay. I have no savings (used it on
    doctors and alternative care).
    3) It pays not even half of what I had
    before and therefore I cannot pay my bills and there is little hope of
    any significant raise.
    4) I now have to move in with my sister and her husband and two cats because I cannot afford to stay where I am.
    5) My bank account is in the red and stays there almost for the entire month.
    6) The IRS says I owe thousands more than I thought.
    So,
    needless to say, my cortisol levels are constantly elevated and have
    been for many years and I am sure my adrenals are toast.

    So, in
    light of the above mentioned situation(s), how am I to get things under
    control to get back to adrenal recovery? I would love to go to a
    specialist or holistic care person but alas, I cannot afford it. So, I
    read books and blogs.

    Oh, and did I mention that my sister (bless
    her heart) has major problems of her own and is the original Debbie
    Downer! I am truly needing a life preserver and and suggestions would
    be GREATLY appreciated!!!

    Blessings to all!!

    Reply
    • Angel

      Dear Cathy, please look into The Tapping Solution (EFT). It works on all levels and is completely free. Blessings from Angel, in the UK.

      Reply
  13. Cathy

    Oh, and another thing…..I have difficulty sleeping because of my neck problem… I cannot sleep in a normal position because as I lay down, the pressure on the neck causes pain which wakes me up – so unable to get the stress hormones down so my body can repair itself…..geez…I am a wreck……

    Reply
  14. Mia Grifford

    This was very interesting for me to read! My doctors have been hinting at the idea that my health problems are due to stress, but until I started reading your book and then shortly after my GI doctor said that stress causes constant acid production in your stomach, I was in denial. I am a scientist, so I want to know that there is a biological reason for my symptoms (that it’s not all in my head). I have gotten 3 different cortisol tests, a blood test in the morning, a 24 hour urine test (both of which were normal), and a spit test at 4 times throughout the day (which did show that I have high cortisol at 2 of the 4 times). But I didn’t really pay much attention to the results of the spit test since the other two tests were normal and I was told that the spit test is less accurate. But, I do have 9 out of 10 of those symptoms, and I used to have the problem with getting a second wind right before bedtime, but that has recently gone away (possibly due to meditating and reading before bed). I am starting the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, which involves meditating for 30 minutes each day and am exercising more, doing yoga, and taking more breaks from work, but I am in my 4th year of graduate school which creates a huge amount of stress for me. I feel like I can’t quit now, I only have another year or so left, but my health problems have been getting increasingly worse. I hope the meditation and exercise will help me better deal with the stress, since I don’t know how to remove the stress from my life right now.

    Reply
  15. Maryanne

    I have the issue of getting a “good nights rest” but just wanting to stay in bed longer because I feel so tired and like I could sleep one or two more hours. This morning was cloudy and I thought it’s just the weather but this happens too often for it to be just that. I’m getting along in life and no doubt I’m stressed but I didn’t think I was that stressed. I suppose overtime though things wear out. If I were to see a dr. about this I would get that “look.” I’d also be sent to a specialist who would take 6 months or more to see, if my doc gives me the referral. I have changed some things. Coffee has been cut back drastically, I get my 8 hours of sleep, I get exercise…maybe too much?, try to eat well and not a lot of junk, also doing other things for relaxation. Been quite enjoyable teaching my nephew to ride his bike and we took up drawing some pictures over the last few days, chill evenings if you will. My work situation is changing. I just got into a routine starting a new job but now I’m about to take on another job and will transition again…that’s tiring and not quite looking forward to it…. Looking for stability. I did question if taking the job was the right thing to do….Even did a body scan meditation about it. I suppose all in all I will find out soon enough.

    Reply
  16. Susan Gallacher-Turner

    Lissa,

    Once again, this is such important and valuable information.

    It’s so important to see these symptoms of stress and not sickness. I know many people who have headaches and gastric problems and just go to the doctor and get prescription drugs. Then I watch them develop other problems and none of them go away because they’re not treating the cause at all.

    Life is stressful. I know I can cause my own stress ‘high’ by pushing myself to work harder and faster. I know it happens when my life or the lives around me are under stress. Now I know I need to stop, look and listen to my body not fight it.

    I just recommended your book to a friend who’s going through a really stressful time and has many of the cortisol symptoms.

    Reply
  17. Warwick Begg

    Thankyou Lissa for your so-sharp clear thinking, and your delightful realness as a person. Also, having read a previous blog relating your Mother prom night comment story (oh boy), and as a man, I can tell you that your facial features are interesting and genuinely attractive and great as they are, so please never consider taking any action to spoil them. As with most of us, you don’t see the animation and character that shines from you as you express, to further enhance what you already have.

    I’m working at “being” at a more graceful and less panicked pace in an effort to rise out of my chronic fatigue of a number of years now. It seems such a simple thing to do now, and so enjoyable – why the heck didn’t a smart person like me do it years ago! Ya gotta laugh. The time has to be right, and the person ready. No hurrying a good and thorough (hence valuable) lesson. The Universe is definitely helping me progress – as always – by introducing new guiding people like yourself and inspirations in general. Now it feels that I may have learnt enough from the debilitation, and am perceiving that it’s possible and time to turn a corner. I am enjoying embracing love more consciously, and am feeling a return of optimism and inspiration.
    It has been delightfully encouraging to see an interview with you and read your words of insight and logic. I look forward to receiving your book soon, which surely can’t be that far away – Western Australia seems to take such a long time for physical things to get too!
    May your work continue to be bitingly real, and fun and joyous for you, and thence so for all of us out here.
    Affectionately – Warwick.

    Reply
  18. NaomiC

    Wow. I’ve been treated for adrenal issues for a few years by a naturopath, but I am still ticking 8 out of 10 of these symptoms. This is a really helpful list – to see these symptoms all listed together made so much sense to me! Particularly the waking up feeling tired – no one has ever mentioned this as a symptom of anything except “you don’t have good quality sleep”. Thank you! I’m just about to start the self healing part of the the book…looking forward to determining my prescription. And a little bit scared of it too, to be honest!

    Reply
  19. KDfrAZ

    FASCINATING, Lissa!! Thanks so much!

    You’ve got me wondering about my cortisol levels, with a twist.

    I don’t get the standard colds, although asthma/allergies often sets me up for sore throats and cough from post-nasal drip. Other than that, though, my immune system’s doing okay… or else I’ve been bloody lucky (as well as aware of washing hands!)

    But I have the other nine, and my immune system is actually compromised since I have fibromyalgia and mold toxicity problems. So I’m now wondering if high cortisol levels are normal, so to speak, for fibro?

    BTW, I’m doing well. We’re out of the mold, thanks be, and I’m doing a bentonite and charcoal detox. I have a brilliant and CARING physician whose also an international expert on mold toxicity, as well as being a good friend of my husband’s. In any case, he’s not treating the fibro with drugs, but with the detox, nutrition, and trigger point injections as needed. (Lidocaine, I think.)

    I’ve also been losing weight and regaining enough energy to push too hard. As I did today by too much walking and standing, and now have muscles with a legitimate complaint of overwork. Of course fibro tends to leave the volume control on pain levels maxed out, so OWWW. But while it’s appalling how little it took to overwork those leg muscles, it’s good to have enough energy to do so!

    Anyway, do you think there’s a link between the cortisol levels and some of the common symptoms of fibro? I’m going to be asking my doctor this next time I see him.

    Many thanks, and a special thank you for the Flames. I look for them.

    Reply
  20. Sarah McKay

    Lissa. LOVE this post…. I wrote about stress and the brain recently in my brain health blog as I have the very particular concern about my family and friend who live in Christchurch, New Zealand. They gave lived through 2+ years of earthquakes which have resulted in wrecked houses, schools, jobs and lives – as they joke…it was only the first 10,000 that were scary, then you got used to it. I often wonder what the general health of the population will be in the long term… especially as I’ve seen the short(ish)-term effect on my Mum/sister’s physical and mental health – weight gain, sleep problems, disconnect, depression, ‘unexplained’ fatigue, etc etc. They are in a really horrible situation where there is no easy fix…

    Reply
  21. JaniceELP

    Thank you SO much for addressing this issue!!! I learned last October that I had vision loss in both of my eyes from torn and detached retinas. It was uncertain if I would become totally blind. I live alone and have no family. I was scared to death. A close friend went to every doctor’s appointment and to both surgeries with me, but I had to endure this all alone, otherwise. When this situation arose last fall, I was busy clearing out my basement (which took all summer and fall), so that I could move some of my parents’ furniture to my house. I was preparing for the winter, when I was going to stay at my parents’ house, in order to go through everything in the basement and the two upstairs floors, and decide what I wanted to keep and what I want to sell. My mother died just over 3 years ago, and it is time for me to sell the family home in which we lived since 1944. The repairs, maintenance, and taxes for that house are taking up too much of my income, and I cannot continue to keep that house and my own. In addition to that, I learned that my garage floor is sinking, and that it is unsafe to park my car in it. Even so, I thought I was handling my stresses well.

    I have been a long-distance hiker for many years, hiking 9-12 miles every day. After a 2-week recovery period following my first successful retina surgery, I went right back to my daily long hikes without incident. These hikes have helped me tremendously calm my nerves, especially since the death of my mother. I had the second successful retina surgery two months later, and that is when my problems began. Following my recovery period, I was not able to do any long-distance hiking. The most I could hike was about 6 miles, and I was utterly exhausted afterward. In fact, everything exhausts me. After having done a short hike, I come home and sleep for the rest of the day. After a little longer hike or after having run errands, or even having taken a stress test, I could not get out of bed for two days. I simply cannot stay awake after most any kind of exercise. I can easily sleep all day and all night. I have never, ever been like this in my life. Only 2 months before this debilitation and extreme exhaustion hit me, I used to scrub the basement floor or do other heavy duty work, go for a very long hike, and then go to a yoga class. I was NEVER tired, and my feet and legs never hurt. Now, my calves hurt most of the time, even when I’m only in my house. Some days, my legs wouldn’t hold me up at all. On at least 2 occasions, I was so weak and debilitated that I thought I was dying. The only way I could describe it is to say, it felt as though my life force were just leaving me. The doctor has had no explanation; yet, I am merely a ghost of the person I was – and this happened within only 2-3 weeks.

    I believe that I have adrenal fatigue. The description fits me exactly. Yesterday, I went to the health food store and bought all the supplements you recommended, along with a few others they recommended. I started taking them this morning. I’m going to ask my doctor to give me hydrocortisone. I’m also going to see a chiropractor for additional assistance. I no longer have a life; I have a bare existence. I want my old life back so desperately, and I think your article has set me on the correct path to find it. THANK YOU!

    Reply
    • Leah

      It sounds like you have chronic fatigue syndrome which may be caused by a virus.

      Reply
      • JaniceELP

        No, Leah, it could not have been chronic fatigue syndrome. I had no virus, and the supplements I took do not kill viruses. The proof was in the pudding when I came alive only days after beginning the supplement therapy. I’m sure that it was my adrenals that had been exhausted from too much stress over too long a time. They simply needed to be rested and replenished with the supplements.

        Reply
        • Lynn Gordon

          Hi Janice, I think that my adrenals are the cause of my symptoms. What supplements did you or are you taking? I am working with a wonderful Naturopathic doctor. If I had not misplaced my trust in medical doctors I probably would have been healed years ago. It is only in the last year that I discovered that MD’s are only taught to treat symptoms, otherwise you are sent to a “specialist”. Anyway, I have researched this extensively and am going to do the saliva test for cortisol tomorrow but I already know it will show that they are “tired”. I’ve been under a constant stress for years now and the circumstance is not anything I can change except to learn how to deal with the stress and be an active participant and advocate for my own health and foremost, to lean upon my faith in Jesus Christ. He has sustained me these many years and I know will lead me to healing as well.
          So, once again, the supplements that worked for you for your adrenal fatigue were what? And, how is the dosage calculated?
          Thank you for your input on this page. I pray you all will find good health in spirit, soul and body!!

          Reply
          • JaniceELP

            Dear Lynn, I took the supplements that Lissa had recommended in an article on Adrenal Fatigue. She had recommended DHEA and Isocort pellets. I took 10 mg. capsules of DHEA and 2 Isocort pellets daily. I also bought
            Eleuthero Root, which was recommended by the clerks at Whole Foods. I do not think that the amounts are gauged according to a person’s weight. I am a very petite woman, and the amounts that Lissa recommended in general were the ones I took. I think these amounts would work for anyone.

            Isocort is no longer made, so I didn’t have them when I had a brief relapse, and you won’t be able to get them, either. During that brief relapse, I took one 10 mg. capsule of the DHEA every morning and one or two Gaia Eleuthero Root supplement capsules per day, which had been recommended by the health food store clerk. My relapse didn’t last long, and i have had my old stamina and energy as I always had since. You can get those supplements in those capsule sizes at any good health food store and even from Amazon. Because it was cheaper from Amazon, I started buying those supplements from that company after I determined that they were indeed healing me.

            I wish you the very best of luck with your treatment. I am living proof that a severely debilitating illness (even though it wasn’t detected my traditional medical tests) can not only be treated, but can be healed for good. I have been back to long-distance hiking for a long time now, even going a little over 21 miles one day last fall. I wish the very same kind of recovery for you.

    • America Callahan

      Wow sounds like me. Sometimes I wonder if its worth living. No energy, I own an antique store, and I have no energy to go work, even talking to people wears me out. All tests are negative.

      Reply
      • JaniceELP

        Please hang in there, America. I felt just as you do, and I was extremely debilitated. All of the traditional medical tests administered to me came out within the “normal” range, too, but clearly they were wrong. (I suspect that the tests are not sensitive enough or the thresholds they use to detect certain anomalies are wrong.) Even my doctor knew that something was seriously physically wrong with me, but she couldn’t figure out what it was or how to treat it. It was Lissa’s articles on Adrenal Fatigue and the suggestions she made to take Isocort and other supplements, plus the Eleuthero Root recommended by the health food clerk, which got me back on my feet and made me whole again. And, change came within only a few days of taking these supplements. The change was so dramatic that it surprised my friends and even me. There IS hope. You might be able to find it in the health food store, just like I did. My own doctor admitted to me afterward that “Traditional medicine is very primitive” and does not have all the answers. I learned that first hand, so don’t depend on it solely to heal you. Many times, it can’t, and you have to use alternative therapies. I deeply wish you well. I am living proof that you CAN reverse this and live a normal, healthy life again. I’m hoping that you will rebound with PROPER treatment, just as I did. Fingers crossed all the way for you!

        Reply
      • Lynn Gordon

        Life always matters very much, America!! YOU MATTER and you are not alone! Please hang in there!! I, too, have had 10+years of chronic illness and, at times, have felt the way you are expressing. BUT, I made a promise to myself and to God that self-harm was NOT an option!! My anchor in this storm of health issues is and always has been my faith in Jesus Christ. His strength truly has sustained me when I thought I could not do it another day. Yes, I would cry. And, at times, weep for want of someone who would understand and be there in person with me. He knows how I feel and He never leaves me. Ever.
        Stay strong. Reach out like you did here. Get out into the Light of Day! If you want to email me it is OK. I will keep in touch with you and encourage you any time. There is much life going on around us if we will just let it in. Just promise yourself and another person that, for you, quitting is not an option. Ever.
        Blessings!

        Reply
    • Rob

      I have been suffering from terrible fatigue, sweats, weight gain, increased pain etc since I had back surgery in 2010. I recently had some blood tests that showed low testosterone, high cortisol and high epinephrine. I have been prescribed testosterone which will apparently give me my energy back but we’ll see. The problem with blood tests is that they only ever take them when you are already sick so they have no reference for what normal should be for me. A “normal range” means nothing. A simple google search can tell you that so why don’t doctors know this?

      Doctors know that the size of the injury has nothing to do with the amount of pain an individual might suffer. A minor herniated disc or slightly high cortisol might put me in bed for a week while someone else might not even notice.

      Also, they only ever try to treat symptoms these days and hardly ever focus on the underlying cause. Depression, low testosterone, high cortisol etc are all symptoms, they are not a diagnosis. Healthy people don’t suffer from debilitating depression. It is insulting to get dismissed as being a head case when you don’t have the energy to get out of bed. I wasted three years with an expensive shrink and it never helped me one bit. Antidepressants gave me some extra energy for a few weeks but my body always adjusted and lowered my baseline. Most shrinks know only what the drug companies tell them about the medications they prescribe and they know shockingly little about the long-term effects.

      Opiate pain medications, for example, are the most common reason why men suffer low testosterone but the back doctor who prescribed mine doesn’t know this. He refused to look into it even when I told him.

      Trust in doctors is misplaced these days. I think there is a good chance that one or more of the medications they gave me, caused these long term symptoms I suffer now. I never had them before my surgery in 2010.

      One thing I know for sure is that my pain increased with long term use of pain meds and increased pain raised cortisol levels. God knows what doctors learn when studying for seven years because most seem to know so little. The only way is to do your own research and do your own trial and error if doctors can’t or won’t help.

      Reply
      • JaniceELP

        Rob, please don’t ever give up. Help IS out there. Sometimes, it is only sheer luck that brings it your way, as happened in my case.

        I have noticed that many doctors, when faced with medical conditions they can’t diagnose or don’t know how to treat, refer their patient to a psychiatrist. That happened to a few of my friends, including one in Canada. She was suffering from extreme exhaustion, muscle weakness, and depression, which she discovered online are symptoms of Lyme Disease. After she got treatment for Lyme from an American doctor (Yes, she had to cross the border to get treatment for that), her symptoms started abating. It took her 18 years and numerous visits to many doctors, including psychiatrists, before she discovered what had been troubling her body and nervous system all along. Yet, over those 18 years, she was considered to be a “head case” by all of her doctors because standardized tests couldn’t detect Lyme. I can’t think of anything more insulting, than having anyone make the suggestion that a person is imagining an illness or that he is a “head case” simply BECAUSE THE DOCTOR DOESN’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

        You have to forgive your doctor for suggesting such a thing; they simply don’t know what else to do, and they have no understanding of how negatively such a suggestion for psychiatry can impact a patient. I have seen it do that on several occasions, including to my Canadian friend. If you think a remedy is not right FOR YOU, you have the right to decline and look for other possible treatments for your symptoms. We do have to be the guardians of our own health, and we have to be diligent consumers, including in the field of medicine.

        It became abundantly clear to me that doctors learn only what they’re taught in medical school and, like people who have had religious training, tend to reject anything that doesn’t comport with what they’ve learned. Very few study alternative medicine, so they don’t have all the tools they need to help everyone. A half-empty toolbox simply cannot fix every problem. I suspect that they are not doing the simple Google searches we are, because THEY have not yet come across – or themselves experienced – some mystery symptoms, which aren’t detected by standardized medical tests and which don’t respond to traditional medical remedies. If more would look beyond traditional medicine for answers, they might be better able to help their patents – EXCEPT they could ostensibly be admonished by the state medical board for using non-approved treatment methods if they do suggest alternative therapies, which could jeopardize their medical licenses. They don’t want to be sued, ostracized by their colleagues, or lose their license to practice for their out-of-the-norm practices, so I wouldn’t expect them to change their patterns of practice any time soon. The ENTIRE medical establishment needs to change before that can happen. Those changes need to begin in medical schools everywhere. Until it does, we have to be responsible for our own care.

        I agree with you about “normal ranges” for tests being insufficient to detect a malady, especially if an individual’s “normal” reading is outside the expected levels. Unless a doctor knows what is normal for her particular patient, she can’t possibly know if a reading during a time of illness is, in fact, “normal”. I know that I should NOT have produced normal test results when I couldn’t stay awake for more than 30 minutes a day over a period of months. But that is what I had. I recently had a blood test, which showed an anomaly, which could indicate a form of cancer. I was sent to an cancer center for consultation and further testing. In that case, the anomaly was NORMAL for me. It fact it was a genetically-inherited anomaly. It has not and most likely never will cause me any problems. In fact, all of my other blood levels were well within the normal range, and I have no symptoms that would indicate any kinds of blood issues. No one in my family has cancer, but I apparently carry some sort of gene, which could cause it. It’s simply dormant in me.

        I am particularly intrigued by the fact that both you and I had NO medical problems until we had a surgery. That suggests to me that something occurred during the surgeries to our body, which caused our resulting debilitating conditions. I have to wonder how many other cases are like ours. I think that doctors, who perform surgeries KNOW that adverse things occur during surgery, but say nothing for fear of being sued. Perhaps, in my case, my cortisol levels went through the roof to such an extent that my adrenal glands nearly shut down. I had experienced so much stress and fear of coming out of those 2 surgeries blind that this process would not surprise me. But, I think that doctors ought to address that and learn about the effects of extreme stress on a patient undergoing surgery – and be prepared to treat her/him for that beforehand and afterward. In my case, the surgeon simply insisted that he did nothing wrong. I wasn’t seeking to lay blame. I was simply seeking information, so I could get proper treatment and get my life back. Denial, stemming from fear of being sued, is what we often get, instead. Denial and attempts to avert responsibility heal no one.

        You and I, like so many others, have learned well: trust yourself, and be your own advocate and your own medical guardian. We rely solely on “professionals” to our detriment. I wish you well. I have healed, and I am certain that you will, too. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you will revive fully and completely and know true good health again. The very best of luck to you!

        Reply
        • Rob

          The relationship between developing a condition and surgery may seem like a coincidence to some people but there are a number of reasons I can think of. Most people who have surgery are given opioid pain medications before, during and after. These meds cause permanent changes in the brain as well as causing low testosterone in men. People will low T often have high cortisol (apparently).

          They give us oral steroids and steroid injections to reduce inflamation before surgery. Those pills and injections are cortisol.

          Surgery opens us up to infections (literally). They give us antibiotics but nobody follows up after surgery to check that you are ok beyond a few post surgery visits. If you don’t show noticable symptoms at that point then nobody will check after that. We are normally still taking pain meds for a while after surgery and would not think anything abnormal about feeling tired from them.

          Surgery and the recovery period are a major stress on the body. I was a stressed out person before I had surgery so maybe my ability to heal was compromised. Pain causes stress and in increase in cortisol. Cortisol inhibits our ability to heal which causes more pain and stress. My nutritionist calls this “a cycle of inflamation”.

          So many conditions have the same symptoms so they don’t know where to look. Ideally you want a doctor with a broad range of experience but these days, everyone has to be a specialist. The old saying that to someone who only has a hammer in their toolbox every problem looks like a nail, applies here.

          My main problem with people being sent to see a shrink is not that I would be ashamed of needing that kind of help. I have a problem with them putting me on antidepressants without knowing what is wrong. Most of the ones prescribed these days are relatively new, their side effects make our problems worse and they have no idea about the long term damage. I feel like they made some permanent changes to me. Most have side effects like weight gain, loss of sex drive, fatigue, sweating (sound familiar?) and they don’t always go away when you stop taking the meds. Plus, they are very difficult to stop. My $500 per appointment shrink didn’t do one single blood test before writing a prescription for Zoloft. When that didn’t work, he prescribed another one, then another, then another…. Not once de he concede that maybe I needed a different kind of treatment and why would he. I was a paying customer and he was running a business.

          On complimentary medicine, I have a friend in Europe who suffered chronic fatigue for 2 years. She had to stop working and couldn’t get out of bed. Dr’s diagnosis was “chronic fatigue” and she was given antidepressants. She nearly gave up hope until she met with a nutritionist who found some critical vitamin deficiencies. She got the right supplements and made a full recovery. As a general point, I am in favor of treatment like that if you can find it. Many of the people offering complimentary treatment are just as useless as most doctors though. There is no shortage of people to take your money when you are sick so you need to protect yourself from that too.

          Doctors have no consequences if they take your money and don’t help you. Imagine if a mechanic didn’t fix your car and sent you a bill anyway. Would mechanics try as hard or would they rush you out of there (like doctors) whenever a problem wasn’t simple….
          I have so little faith left in doctors. I am greatful that my endocrinologist did some blood tests before treating me. It’s terrible that this is the exception these days. I got a suprise when I saw test results for Epinepherine, dopamine and norepinephrine. These are some of the thinks that antidepressants are meant to increase in the brain. My shrink always said that there were no tests for depression. I guess it is just better for them if I have to pay $500 per month to treat symptoms instead of fixing the underlying condition. All this time I had high Epinepherine and he was giving me meds to increase it even more….

          Reply
          • JaniceELP

            Rob, you raised some very good points. I believe, at least in my case, that I was suffering from adrenal fatigue brought on by several years of stress, with tremendously increased stress when I discovered I was at risk for blindness, and exacerbated by the anesthesia I had during surgery, which might have interacted with my arrythmia to cause long-lasting changes to my system. I never fully awoke from the second retina surgery, contrary to the first one. At first, I thought I might have been given too much anesthesia for my very tiny body (I weigh only 94 lbs.). But, the sedative effects never wore off. As you pointed out, they often give us opioids following surgery, and I had some and a kind of steroid in the form of eye drops, which I had to take regularly, following the surgery. It just might have been the combination of stress over a long period and extreme fear, too much anesthesia for my body size, pain medication (which was VITAL for me to get through the first couple of days of recovery), the streroid drops to curb inflammation, and my arrhythmia, which caused my condition of extreme debilitation. Doctors don’t look for answers beyond what they learned in medical school, and they almost never consider the possibility of collective causation following an injury, illness, or surgery. Additionally, my surgery was FIVE HOURS LATE. During that entire time, I sat in a non-sterile waiting room with a pick line in my vein – not a smart thing to do. My surgery was so late because my surgeon had an emergency surgery just prior to mine. The nurse told me that I would be next after they cleaned up the operating room. Because they were SO far behind, it is possible that they didn’t do a very good job in cleaning and disinfecting that room. It is also possible that the pick line allowed some contamination into my body while I was in the waiting room for all those hours. When you are in surgery and you are under great stress, your body is susceptible to many things. Heaven only knows what germs and bacteria might have been lurking in that operating room and might have affected my medical condition. They were in a hurry, and my surgery, although scheduled for 2 o’clock, was not begun until after 7:30 in the evening and was not completed until after 10:30 at night. When a doctor, including the anesthesiologist. has to work continuously for so many hours, mistakes can happen. During my first retina surgery, I was aware of the anesthesiologist holding my hand during the entire surgery, although I felt no pain. I was completely out of it during the second surgery, and I could barely get dressed afterward. That made me wonder if I had had too much anesthesia, to which I am very sensitive and had experienced a life-threatening condition many years earlier, and which could have contributed to the extreme debilitation I sustained from that retina surgery. I’ll never know for sure, but, at least, now, I have my health and stamina back. I was very frustrated, though, that NO ONE, including the surgeon, took any interest in finding out what caused my debilitation. My fear is, if they don’t know what caused it the first time, what are the chances it will recur with subsequent invasive surgeries? With every subsequent surgery, it will be a roll of the dice for me as to whether or not I come out of it severely debilitated once again.

            One other thing, you are very accurate when you say that anyone who makes money from treating a patient might prescribe any treatment, even if it isn’t effective. Profit tends to rule everywhere nowadays. That’s the reason I say, you HAVE to be a responsible consumer and the guardian of your own health. I trusted Lissa, and I trusted Whole Foods to lead me in the right direction, to heal myself. THANK GOODNESS my trust was well placed. Just because a person or business is involved with alternative medicine, that does not mean we can automatically trust them, especially when large sums of money are involved. Our own research and trial and error, as many of us have learned, sometimes have to be the way we find the way to get our health back.

      • Kim

        Not sure if you’ll see this, it’s been awhile since your post. You are correct, doctors know very little about meds…they learn how to fix things like broken bones, replace hearts, livers…etc. If you want the down low on meds, man made or natural, a pharmacist is the best go-to person. I see a pharmacist, who moonlights as a menopausal clinician. She helped significantly when I was having issues. I would advise checking to see is there’s someone in your area that does this sort of thing…it can be life changing!

        Reply
        • Rob

          I saw it!

          As a man, I’m not sure a menopausal clinician would be able to help me but I get your point. Men suffer just as much from hormone imbalances as woman when they occur. Glad you found some effective help though. I think pharmacists should be more involved in our treatment especially when we already have a firm diagnosis, as they are most familiar with the treatment options. Doctors often use the prescription pad to lord over us and to force us to pay for more appointments. I am on testosterone replacement and will be for life. It drives me crazy that I have to pay for monthly doctors appointments to get a prescription as they add zero value to me.

          still, no point in wishing; there is person or organization in America that is capable of doing anything to improve our healthcare system. Even the Federal government with majority public support wasn’t able to change anything so the American healthcare system will remain the shameful abomination that it is.

          Reply
  22. JaniceELP

    Another huge “Thank you”. After I started on the supplements you recommended for only 3 days, I was able to go hiking for TWELVE MILES without any problem. When I returned home, I was still bounding with energy and I did 3 loads of laundry. I haven’t been able to do these things for 5 months, because I’ve been so debilitated. I’m shocked that the supplements worked to well and so fast. I had honestly thought that I would never recover to my old normal self and that the best I could hope for a feeling a little better, perhaps even being able to stay awake all day long. The results were far more than I had ever dreamed. You helped me fix what my doctors could not. BLESS YOU!!!!! I now believe that I will have my life back.

    Reply
    • George Alifragis

      What are the supplements he recommends? Read the article and can’t find them… Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
      • JaniceELP

        The supplements Lissa recommended were Isocort (by Bezwechen) and DHEA. I took 10 mg. of DHEA and 2 Isocort pellets daily. I also bought Eleuthero Root, which was recommended by the clerks at Whole Foods. That combination worked wonders for me. I quit taking everything about 4 months after I began, because I was back to my normal health and no longer needed anything. However, some of the symptoms started returning months later, around the end of March, so I decided to go back on the supplements for a while. Fortunately, I had quite a bit left over. I was going to re-order Isocort from Amazon, but learned that they had none in stock and that they might never get it back. I called the US distributor in Nevada and was told that the product had been discontinued and there was no replacement for it. I have no idea why it was discontinued. (IF it had been discontinued for health reasons, they should have disclosed that.) It worked wonderfully for me, and I stayed on that supplement longer than the others. I am now taking only the Eleuthero Root and the DHEA, and that seems to be working. I contacted Lissa Rankin, asking what I could take in place of the Isocort, but never got an answer, which was extremely disappointing. I felt as though I had been left hanging, with no assistance after I had depended on her advice to get back on my feet last year, and I expected that her office would respond. They did not. Nevertheless, I am doing well on only the Eleuthero Root and the DHEA, and I hiked 11.6 miles just yesterday. So, I’m hoping that I will continue to enjoy full stamina without the Isocort.

        There is one caveat with Eleuthero Root, though. Despite its effectiveness, it raises blood pressure considerably. I have low BP (usually 108/78). After I had been taking it for a few months, my BP went up to 140/100 (I had no symptoms or other indications that it has risen and I never would have known that it had until I had a few routine exams). It has never, ever been in that range. After I quit taking it, my BP went back down to its normal 108/78. The lesson here is, if you already have high BP, you need to be careful with Eleuthero Root.

        Reply
        • George Alifragis

          Thanks so much for taking the time to respond! Truly appreciate it.

          Reply
        • FOFFIE

          So these suplements you took (Isocort, DHEA, Eleuthero Root) were for high cortisol levels? What were they specifically used for? to combat/reserve what?

          Reply
          • JaniceELP

            Foffie, I’m sorry it took me so long to answer your query. I only just
            saw it today. I’ve been very busy since I was able to get back on my
            feet following the period of debilitation after last retina surgery I
            had. The supplements I took balanced out my cortisol levels and
            restored my adrenal glands to their normal functioning. Although tests
            performed by my doctor didn’t show inordinate levels of cortisol, the
            way those tests are measured in traditional medicine must not be
            correct. Otherwise, the supplements I took to restore normal adrenalin
            levels would not have worked – and worked so quickly and effectively. I
            have continued to function at my formal rate, even sanding (by hand),
            priming, and painting my walls and removing wall-to-wall carpeting and
            padding from my stairs just within the past month – something I NEVER
            could have considered doing while I was so debilitated. I am continuing
            to hike 9-12 miles per day when I’m not busy with other projects.
            Getting my adrenal function back to normal took a while, but it has been
            a lasting change. I am tremendously grateful to Lissa for having
            addressed this issue and for my sheer luck in having found it. The
            information she provided saved my life.

            I think what happens is
            this: We undergo extreme stress or numerous stressors over a long
            period of time. Our adrenal glands work overtime, to deal with the
            stress, producing ever more adrenalin. At some point, they simply can’t
            function properly any more, because they’re overtaxed, and they simply
            stop – or nearly – stop working, i.e., stop producing adrenalin. The
            adrenal glands, which produced adrenalin and kept our body moving, just
            stop producing enough of it. At that point, the body simply can’t
            physically go any more, and medication of supplements have to be used to
            normalize the adrenal levels again, including our hormones. (That’s
            what these supplements did.) If not addressed, we have no energy and
            we flounder. This is not a case of simply having little energy. This
            is a case of our legs not holding us up, not being able to stay awake
            more than a very brief time in a whole day and night, not being able to
            get to the kitchen to get food, having difficulty breathing, actually
            feeling as though you are dying. Even worse, when a person is unable to
            physically stay awake for long periods of time, her body starts burning
            fat and muscle mass, to maintain her internal organs. That’s what
            happened to me. Despite all my previous physical activities, I lost
            most of my muscle mass during the months that I was unable to function.
            Anyone who becomes that debilitated needs to deal with her adrenals
            immediately. It is extremely hard to be able to rebuild the muscle mass
            you lose during such prolonged periods. I have not been able to regain
            mine so far. I’m drinking a lot of protein shakes, and I’m going to
            start weight-resistance training, in an effort to reverse that.

  23. Jennifer M

    Thankyou for this article Lissa! I had cortisol (saliva) testing done twice two years ago. The docs. said I was fine. My health keeps rapidly deteriorating though. I can’t take more than one thyroid pill a day or my heart gets severe palpitations….feels like I have a salmon in my chest flopping! I eat constantly, my blood glucose is well below normal, my blood pressure is low, noises make me jump, get stressed out over anything, I can’t sleep long & it’s so hard to fall back asleep! I have no energy at all & worry I will need to lie down all day in the future. Also recently I’ve been very panicky a lot.
    Should I bother taking another cortisol test or get DHEA tested? I have seen over 50 doctors of all kinds. Even the two holistic docs I have seen don’t have a clue. I have a young daughter who needs me to get better. She’s nine & has never known a healthy mom 🙁
    All of this started soon after she was born. I was severly anemic & my thyroid wasn’t working right…..but docs said I was fine & kept dismissing me & giving me antidepressants instead of treating my issues that kept me in this downward spiral.

    Reply
    • Jessica Murphy

      I’m not a doctor, but I can relate to your struggle. Sounds like cyclic Cushing’s to me! I’m going through almost identical problems. I just found Dr. Rankin’s awesome webpage and I’m a fan of Kris Carr’s work as well (she wrote the foreword to one of Dr. Rankin’s books). Another helpful site for folks with our symptoms is cushings-help.com. Trust your body and be persistent. You’re right; your daughter needs you just like my four kids (ten and under) need me. Stay strong, sister! ( ;

      Reply
      • Jennifer M

        Thanks for the encouraging words Jessica! Kudos to you for going through this & having four kids! Pat yourself on the back!!! I will def. check out what you suggested. Good health to all of us & soon! 🙂

        Reply
    • Ginger Laura Backer

      I have been experiencing the same thing for years. I have been to numerous doctors. They treat the symptoms and never look for the underlined problems past a few test. I have appointment monday with my GYN who has been my doctor 20 years. He has always listened I am going to see if he will do some tests on cortisol and whatever the adrenal glands produce.

      Reply
      • Jennifer M

        Hi Ginger! Absolutely….let’s give you a pill & send you on your way….or you are a woman, you prob. just need an antidepressant! ARGH!!! I hope you were able to get your doc to do the testing. You can order saliva tests on your own. They are more accurate than blood tests as long as you follow the instructions perfectly. Problem is getting someone to interpret them correctly & prescribe what you need to fix high or low cortisol. Good luck!!!

        Reply
    • Mullar Sharron

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      Reply
    • Dr. Lorna

      I hope things have improved since your post. It sounds to me like your thyroid medication dose may be way too high or that you don’t realize how various foods can affect thyroid function. Your endocrine system all works together, and a problem with any part of it will affect the others.

      Try seeing a naturopath, and keep a journal of everything you eat and do and feel and any medicines you take for a week before you see him. It’s also helpful to take your temperature twice a day for when questioning thyroid function and whether medicine is at the correct dose. (Doing this consistently will help you keep on track, but allow for temperature changes when ovulating and starting your period.)

      A naturopath will look at the journal and your blood tests and see what lifestyle factors, medication levels, and other things you may want to change. Look up how various foods, such as many considered healthy like broccoli, soy, and flax, can very drastically affect thyroid function (enough to throw off dosages and cause severe hormonal changes).

      Reply
      • Jennifer M

        Hi Dr. Lorna,

        Unfortunately nothing has improved. Actually my digestion is worse & was put on the low FODMAP eating plan. I think having low thyroid for so long has really messed with my stomach acid.

        Thanks for the info. I do avoid all of the goitrogens. I didn’t know about flax….but I don’t eat that often anyhow.

        I have seen a few naturopaths. I am currently looking for another that can really treat the adrenals.

        My temp. falls after my thyroid meds wear off. So I def. need more, but every time I try to increase slowly it agitates my heart. It is exhausting trying to find a cure for yourself….but I am still determined!!! Thanks for responding & take care!!!

        Reply
    • Lala72

      You feel like crap but your cortisol numbers were “normal”? There’s actually a very good chance that you were already in a late-Stage 1 Adrenal Dysfunction, and that those “normal” numbers were really you under duress yet your adrenals not responding properly by pumping out EXCESS cortisol, as they should under duress. This is an indication that your adrenals are not functioning properly and that you’re headed for Stage 2 then Stage 3 Adrenal Dysfunction if something doesn’t change. And a whole host of health issues will appear along the way. This article is very misleading. All the symptoms she mentions can indeed be present in the ABSENCE of sufficient total cortisol sums, as well. In fact, that’s where you typically find most of these symptoms. Again, just because your cortisol measures are “within range” doesn’t mean you don’t have Adrenal Dysfunction. If you’re under stress–external OR internal (virus, inflammation, bacteria imbalance, parasites, leaky gut, candida, etc.), you SHOULD have elevated cortisol. This is how a healthy body works. In fact, cortisol is first and foremost an “emotional buffer” designed to make you thrive under stress. But if you stay in that state too long, if it becomes chronic, you end up with Adrenal Dysfunction and subsequent hormone imbalance and illness.

      Reply
      • Jennifer M

        Thanks Lala72, Hmmm thanks for explaining that to me. Now I am worried as to how far it has progressed.I am still searching for someone to interpret my saliva results correctly & steer me in the right direction (whether meds or adaptogens) after retaking another saliva cortisol test. The subsequent hormone imbalance makes sense too, my DHEA is low now too. Thanks for taking the time to respond! I have tried self treating with adaptogens, but hasn’t done much. Have a great week 🙂 & take care!!!

        Reply
        • Lala72

          Jennifer –

          Self-treating from the onset is a noble attempt, but unless you’re first and foremost guided by a health coach (or functional nutritionist) that’s thoroughly trained in endocrine system matters, and who is capable of properly assessing your lab results in correlation with your main health complaints, “self-care” is of little use. Really, generalities and guessing do no good in this realm, as they don’t in most health areas. Again, self-care is noble, and it’s the ultimate goal, but if you’re not first guided by an expert health coach, and if your lab results aren’t interpreted in tight correlation with your health complaints…well, you’ll end up pretty much where you are at present. If you’re guided correctly and use the same initiative you’ve already exhibited, I think there’s little doubt you can, in time, heal much of what ails you, and you can thereafter maintain those results with self-care.

          I’m an elite functional nutritionist and health coach that specializes in this area–sex hormones, gut function, and autoimmune disorder. I’d leave my Web site address here, but I’m not sure Kim Hanna would approve the “sales” pitch. 🙂

          I should also mention: When we see DHEA levels fall, and we have the complaints you have, and we see the cortisol markers you show despite the amount of stress you’re under, this is typically a tell-tale sign of a “pregnenolone steal.” That is, because cortisol takes priority over all other sex hormones (it’s your “fight or flight” response, remember), your adrenals have begun to steal the raw materials that should be earmarked for other hormones–such as DHEA, testosterone, and estradiol–simply in an attempt to produce adequate cortisol measures.

          As I mentioned before, I’d love to help you uncover healing opportunities. And I know I can. And I know we can do all of this through NATURAL protocols and without meds. But I don’t know that I’m allowed to pitch my services here. 🙂

          Be well. I do understand where you’re at. I’ve been there, after a long bout of grief. And it’s a big reason I entered this arena.

          – Nelson

          And in case I CAN leave a web site address, feel free to check out my Functional Adrenal Stress Profile consultation here:

          https://www.thelongevitystrategist.com/consult/functional-nutrition/functional-adrenal-stress-profile/

          And since we would need to run a new adrenal/hormone test on you to correctly assess things, and since you’ve already been down that road, I’d offer you a Bridge Discount on the consultation portion, one that will save you $125.00. (The lab test is a separate investment.) The discount code for that page is: FASP33A

          Otherwise, feel free to email me with any other questions. My name (above) AT longevityinc.net.

          Again, my earnest intention here is merely to inform you of what often takes place in your situation. I hope it helps.

          Reply
          • Susie

            Jennifer,
            I’ve been battling doctors for a diagnosis to all my symptoms for 15-20 years! They finally ordered a 24 hour urine test (2 weeks ago) for cortisol level and WHALA that showed very high cortisol levels…. so now I have a cushing syndrome diagnosis. Like my dr said it’s great we finally know but not good that it’s this! I think, hope and pray i’m finally at the end of my dark health tunnel as I also have 3 kids 19, 13, 6 who have never known a healthy mom 🙁 Many blessings to you and I hope you figure it out soon. BE PERSISTENT!

          • Randa

            Hello Susie,
            I hope you are better by now
            Same as you I have double the normal cortisol level and no adrenal or pituitary tumors. I suffer initially from a generalized anxiety So how did your treatment go?

    • Joy

      Jennifer, I know your post was 2 years ago, but I’m hoping that you will still see this. I am wondering if you found solutions that helped your heart flopping? Mine is getting worse and worse and is really starting to scare me. I too have a low tolerance for thyroid meds and have had saliva testing done that showed low cortisol levels, but with the symptoms I am currently experiencing, I am wondering if I now have an over abundance of cortisol! I will have retesting done, but was hoping that you would supply some input of your situation? Thanks so much.

      Reply
      • Jennifer M

        Hi Joy, Glad I caught this in my spam folder. Yikes…the state of my email. I wish that I had a solution for you, but I am having the same problem still. It is very confusing….I can take a whole grain of naturethroid in the am & feel somewhat normal, but come 3/4 pm I am exhausted & so sleepy. My temp has fallen by then as well. Bloodwork shows that I need more thyroid hormone…..but still whether it’s synthetic or natural my heart does not react well to taking more. I guess the adrenals really need to be healed before we can take more thyroid meds. I am still trying to find someone to help me with this & need to retake a saliva cortisol test. THe only thing I found recently Joy that I am just starting to look into is LDN drshrader.com it is for sensitive people that overreact to certain things. Someone recommended that to me. If I do figure it out I will be sure to let you know! If you find a solution please let me know was well…..take care!!!!

        Reply
        • Joy

          Thanks so much for your reply! I really do appreciate it. I agree, adrenal health is paramount before we will renew our tolerance to the meds. I recently read an article, https://divinehealthfromtheinsideout.com/2012/03/how-adrenals-affect-muscles-ligaments-joints-in-the-body/, and through it learned more about how adrenal fatigue affects our muscles and connective tissue. It makes sense to me now why our hearts would be affected so much as it’s one of the largest muscles in our body! I have begun taking heart support supplements from Standard Process and have increased my vit C dosage for my adrenals.
          It sounds like you are burning through the T3 in the naturethroid and then not converting the T4? I have found in the past that I have difficulty with T4 as I believe it “pools” in my system and causes problems (I do not convert T4, I think due to fatty liver). I do much better with a T3 only, but recently have reduced that to almost nothing. My plan is to focus on repairing my adrenals and/or the message delivery system from my brain to my adrenals and clearing my liver. I’m happy to stay in touch and share my success/failures. You take care as well! 🙂

          Reply
        • paul

          It sounds like you’re taking too much T3 and not enough T4. Once the T3 wears off there’s not enough T4 circulating to be converted to T3, leaving you with a depressed metabolism. A good doctor whose knowledge is up to date will tell you to take about 90% T4 with about 10% T3 (give or take 5% depending on the patient), and it also helps to split your T3 dose. Both drugs should be synthetic. Natural thyroid provides an unreliable dose and has about 30% T3, which is generally considered in the medical literature to be too high – this will cause heart palpitations or “flopping”. On the correct dose your TSH should be around 1.0 and if you’re still feeling bad, there could be some problem slowing your conversion of T4 to T3. There are lots of possibilities here eg. growth hormone deficiency, depression, obesity and more. A simple fix is a non-drowsy SSRI which upregulates the relevant enzyme, as well as regular exercise, which also increases the conversion rate. Even as a scientist I am amazed by how highly complex the endocrine system is, so remember to regard as dubious any info you receive from pseudo-science kooks, ‘coaches’ and the like, as self-diagnosis can be dangerous.

          Reply
        • Sharon Riley Kendall

          After having gone thru a harrowing 7yrs before diagnosis, this relatively healthy woman (good eating habits, good physical activity in swimming & cycling) was correctly diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome. What??? NEVER heard of THAT one, about 3yrs ago! Many of my doctors were male & given my age – 50 @ onset of symptoms, 57 @ 1st surgery – almost every one, with one exception, attributed ALL of my symptoms to Menopause! (Women are treated horrifically by our male medical profession. It’s great to be able to pull Menopause out of a Doctor’s bag & deem that the cause & the symptoms!) By the time I was correctly diagnosed by an INTERNIST, I was in what we’ll call beginning Stage 4.
          It has been a very upsetting & harrowing recovery – my muscle tone & strength were completely destroyed (making it difficult to workout), my bone integrity & strength were badly compromised (had 3 significant bone breaks & lost an elbow to what orthopedic surgeons called the “Trifecta”), gained 115#s, which many doctors attributed ONLY to Menopause! I could go on & on about the devastating physical changes, but to make matters worse – my employer’s medical health insurance – Aetna – dropped me & then my employer – Bank of America – fired me (a 16 yr Sr Executive)! Life wasn’t difficult enough with my prognosis, they decided to make it more challenging & completely impersonal. In addition to trying to figure out my recovery model, we’re going to need to file for Bankruptcy because our financial world was as destroyed as my physical world.
          Jennifer M – don’t know if you’re still struggling, I suspect you may be if you haven’t be correctly diagnosed, & I’m not sure where you reside, but I suggest the following to you:
          1) IMMEDIATELY locate an INTERNIST & schedule the soonest appointment you can. I’d even tell the scheduler it’s an emergency. My Internist called me THE textbook case of Cushing’s Syndrome. You may want yo use the disease name in your scheduling.
          2) locate a reputable ENDOCRINOLOGIST quickly!
          I suffered an Aortic Dissection in 2010 & all my doctors were perplexed as to the cause. It hampered how we could deal with some aspects of my Cushing’s & now my medical team believes the Dissection was brought on by the Cushing’s! It all goes around & around & badly complicates things! I think Cushing’s is being misdiagnosed as “thyroid problems”, so don’t let any doctor sway you.
          My phenomenal Medical Team was located at University of Pennsylvania Hospital – Endocrinology Dept, Endocrine Surgery Dept, Thoracic & Vascular Dept, & Rheumatology Dept.
          I hope this email finds you well beyond an accurate diagnosis & on the road to a full-fledged recovery. Blessings …

          Reply
      • Candace Cunningham

        Hi, I can relate so much, and having blood tests that say normal doesnt mean a thing. Since it is one test at a particular time that your level would be normal during the day. And it is one time out of 24 hrs in 365 days. My problem is rather irionic. I suffered with adrenial insuffiency my whole life. They found a Pituitary Adenoma (tumor-benign) in 11/88 and removed it along with 82% of my pituitary. Yet they still hadnt figured out that i was adrenal insufficient until 10 yrs later, when at 5’8″ i only weighed 96 lbs and couldnt eat and only drink pedialite. I was put on medication and every thing was fine, besides developing PTSD and severe fibromyalgia. Than in 2010 i entered into a relationship that would turn to be a big part in my demise. In 2011 I was seeing a pain specialist due to some left hip issues. That Dr. knowing that i was adrenial insuffient and taking supplement cortisol did something that would change my life forever. He gave me steriod injections. You are not allowed that amount or different kind of steriods when you are insuffient and taking cortisol. In one weeks time i went from my normal 135 lbs to 185lbs and jaundice, by week two i was 205 lbs and devasted. Everyone kept asking me when i was due because the weight went straight to my stomach only. I finally got into see my endrcrinologist three months later. She refused to give me the medication to take the excess cortisol out of my system and told me it wiuld come out in about 6 mths and to keep taking my cortisol. A year and 8 mths i was still 205 lbs and thoroughly frusrated. So i decided on my own to stop taking the cortisol. In Sept. 2012 i lost 50 lbs in one week, and than the remaining 30 the next. I was so excited. Unfortunately it only lasted 3 months and i started putting weight on rapidly, like 50 lbs in a week and a half, plus an additional 20, than another 10. So i went back to the same endrcrinologist again, there are not many endrcrinologists where i live. Anyhow she refused to help me because she said it was impossible to go from being adrenial insufficient to start making cortisol on my own. She told me not to come back. It is now Jan. 2017 and i weigh approx. 235lbs, i never hardly eat unless it is fresh vegetables but i am hyperalert physically, emotionaly, and mentally. I have become pretty much bed ridden due to the chronic fatigue and brak down of my muscles. I just so badly want to get this weight of but cant as long as i am prducing too much cortisol. I am so fed up. It looks like i am carrying twins. My other drs say something is wrong but they arent endrcrinologists, which to me is bull. I have finally got an appt with an endrocrinologist in the city this month but i am not holding my breath.

        Reply
    • Mistich

      Look into Cortisol manager by Therapeutic. I got mine for an ND and it has made a world of difference. Good luck

      Reply
      • leanne

        hi there, i have taken cortisol manager for several months, thought my adrenals got better but then got beat down again with a major depleation and crash that sent me to emergency! i’m a busy minded person and intense in general but also a mother of two and puppies and also experience a ton of busy ups and downs in my family life and lots of toxic relationships that are at bay at the moment (family). so… my naturpath has me on ortho adapt for adrenal nurishment and stress b complex as well. she hasn’t tested my cortisol levels tho, this morning had my blood sugar tested. that’s now an issue and i’ve read it’s all linked to adrenal fatigue, digestion issues,insomnia, fatigue, anxiousness, shaking with cortisol spikes and not feeling great. the cortisol manager helpd last year but i went off it and only recently went back on.. i get intense gut clinch moments in the early am when the adrenals are waking back up heart pounding etc and then i have to run to the potty a couple times, then feel a bit better after that. need protien ASAP too.. not sure if the manager is doing anything although id din’t take it last night and just a few minutes ago i had a major cortisol spike that had me shaking out of my control from the inside out and panicing. contacting friends to tell them incase i passed out or something worse happened. been on the manager for over a week now.. would have thought it would have take more of an affect my now but..just not sure what else to do. doctors dont know what i’m talking about, adrenal stuff is so unfamiliar to most doc’s. my natur path is not changing my situation at all either by suggesting foods, suppliments etc.

        Reply
    • Mike Asti

      Don’t worry going through the same thing it well be Allright need to get a second opinion it’s a hormone inbalance that will need to be corrected good luck.be strong i know how bad it feels.

      Reply
    • Panayiota

      I suggest trying the Paleo way of eating and supplement with vitamin D … And for heavens sake get rid of the antidepressants

      Reply
      • Panayiota

        I have changed my life with changing my eating Habits and taking supplements

        Reply
        • Debbie

          I just went Paleo and you are right! Check you vitamin D levels and take a good B Complex with Folate (not Folic Acid).

          Reply
          • Mary Lincoln

            That is a great suggestion. Many don’t know, about 1/2 the population can not process Folic Acid. I found out I am one of those. MTHFR genetic mutation +

    • Asti Mike

      Very true been there they will give you the round a round instead of checking properly for hormones inbalance you have nobody wants to do it.very sickning to see some Endocrinologist work this way I’ve seen four different Doctors they all come with different medical findings and treatment still feel the same.they have serious side effects the hormones inbalance.looking for a Private HRT they have better credibility than the orther Doctors I’ve seen.

      Reply
    • 12 tribes israel

      One of the symptoms of high cortisol and low DHEA is hypothyroidism

      Reply
    • Peter Morris

      I know this post is four years old, but I hope you’re ok Jennifer and this time in your life has passed.

      Reply
  24. Thelma Baterna

    Hi Lissa, great email, information’s and I love reading and learning very much! Everything is true wish to share with family and friends but they ignore my tips and warnings! I wish God will enlighten their minds! Thank you so much! Thelma Baterna

    Reply
  25. KimmyQueen

    Thank you for this. Everything you stated here is absolutely correct for me. I need to get something done and quickly

    Reply
  26. Barb

    Help! I had a large tumor removed from my pituitary gland last March (2013). After having my cortisol levels check-via bloodwork and electrylite panel done, my endocrinologist says I have secondary adrenal insufficiency and hypopituitarism. I am currently taking 75 mcg of Levothyroxine and 30 mg of hydrocortisone. I take 20 mg of Cortef in the am, 5 mg in the afternoon, and 5 mg at bedtime. I sleep well but have put on 40 lbs so far and do not know when the weight gain will end. In the past 2 months I have developed severe headaches. For this reason, I recently had a follow-up MRI done and the neurologist says there is some residual tumor, but not significant enough to cause any headache issues. He wants to do another MRI in 6 months. Can the headaches be related to the Cortef? I asked my endo about reducing the steroid and he stated that my organs will shut down. The only other time I was plagued by headaches was 4 days prior to the tumor dx. Between the head pain and weight gain my quality of life is being compromised.

    Reply
  27. Denise Ferraro

    My twelve year old son has been experiencing severe sleep anxiety for the last 6 months. We have tried many many things, have had him examined, by different specialists, and have most recently heard of the hormone called “cortisol”, and that it could be affecting him. So, he is 12, he is high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome (a.k.a., borderline Autistic. In addition, he has several health issues, bone disorder, low bone density, extreme anxiety, and gastrointestinal problems. He has never been a good sleeper since he was a baby. We attributed this to his sensory disorders, and later his anxiety when he was diagnosed. We often heard that kids with autism suffer from sleep problems. We tried Melatonin, which worked for a while… then as a result of his anxiety, we tried medications such as citalophram, clonazepam, and clonidine. Things were ok. He has had two surgeries since August 2012, on both of his legs. he was bed ridden as a result of complications with the surgeries. About 6 months ago, he woke during the night with a 24 hr stomach bug, and vomited, once. Like everyone else, he HATES vomiting! who doesn’t, but he took this to an entirely new level. About two months later, he started having extreme difficulty sleeping… he would be perfectly fine until the word “bedtime” came up, then suddenly he would act up, was afraid to go to sleep, his stomach was hurting, couldn’t sleep, etc., and wouldn’t sleep! would take several hours to get him to fall asleep.. turned out, he said he had a fear of vomiting again, and became terrified with that idea. We assured him that he wasn’t sick, but he insisted his stomach hurt and would get out of control, begging to be taken to the ER in the middle of the night, often would hit himself, or slam his hand on something hard, would do anything to get our attention that “something” was terribly wrong. Of course we took him to his dr, and she said his stomach seemed fine, no issues there, but we put him on a reflux type of medication just in case since it was only in the evening that he would complain of tummy pain. that didn’t work, still insisted he was ill… and would scream and cry because he felt we weren’t taking him seriously. His psychiatrist of course, increased his medications, tried new ones, even an “anti-psychotic” medication, didn’t work, often made the situations in the evening worse! We have been at a loss for 6 months, and mostly every evening, we expect the worst before any type of sleep will occur. We ended up taking him off most of his medications since they didn’t help at all, and sometimes made it worse. We went back to Melatonin, magnesium, vitamin D, lavender, more natural ways of relaxing him… and still, every night is a battle for the entire family. Of course we are all sleep deprived, but I am very concerned for my child. This is not for attention, this is real, hard core terror of going to bed everynight. no matter what we do or say, he is terrified to fall asleep. It does not appear to be fear of nightmares, spirits?!, or anything he can put his finger on other than being afraid he will throw up. It’s like he can’t help it, he has to do it, and he cries and cries and gets angry about “why this is happening to him”, “why do I have to be like this”, “why can’t I just fall asleep”?! heartbreaking. I wanted to give some background history, so there it is. : ) recently his physical therapist mentioned the possibility of him having too much of the hormone cortisol in him. Had never heard of it until then. My child receives a drink called “Dream Water”, what we stumbled upon, that contains melatonin, everynight, in addition, he takes his clonidine for his anxiety/ more of a blood pressure pill… that helps some of the time, but most nights, his head is bobbing, he is so terribly exhausted from the mixture of meds and just being tired, and he refuses to allow his body to sleep, it’s like he won’t let go, or surrender. as soon as he beings drifting off, he jerks himself awake, with a deep, startling GASP and begins to cry over how afraid he is?! over and over until he just can’t fight it anymore.. PLEASE, if anyone knows of how to get more information on how to help him, or point me in the direction I need to go, I would be so thankful. My son suffers from so many other physical conditions, this is just the LAST thing he needs. He is homeschooled (started this year) due to the surgeries, so I know it isn’t a bullying or teasing thing… I, actually WE, need serious help and information. Thank you, Denise

    Reply
    • agnes

      Your son needs Progesterone and that will save him. If you live inUSA then gat some Emerita PRO gesture cream and apply at least a double dose on his arms 3 times a day until he starts improving. Progesterone binds to cortisol receptors and he will be normal in no time. If you don’t believe me contact Dr Platt he has written books on it and his experience saved my life of he’ll with cortisol excess and now my 18 year old son who was add adhd and artistic graduated high school with honors and has a job and is doing great, thanks to progesterone and a grainfree diet.

      Reply
      • Avery

        You can’t possibly know what her son needs, based upon the information in her post.

        Reply
    • Jo Mosey

      My son grew up with the exact same issues as your son and we went through the heavily medicated period and that was the worst, but him. By age 15 depression kicked in badly. We actually had a horrible time finding a doctor to treat someone her age. 21 and over everyone will see. Anyway he is now 21 and doing fabulously. He got a new Dr when he moved to Washington DC and this Dr backed him down from the mood stabilizers and tried a hot off the research high level Folic Acid treatment and boy has that helped him. I still believe all of the aspergers and depression are hormone driven and they are just merely treating the symptoms but.. thank God thinks have settled down. It was a tough age 15-20, five years. You do feel very alone as I know the child does as well. The best suggestion I can give is to unconditionally support and love them. That is what got my son through this bad time. The social issues have even gotten better and he is going out with FRIENDS! Maybe not perfect friends but he has friends. My sons Dr is a Top Psychiatrist in DC. and also teaches in NYC college. So this Folic Acid treatment is cutting edge. My son also had sleep issues. They tried to address that first of all things. This Dr ran a full panel on my son and tested for thyroid levels… as he thinks of other areas to test he does. He has my son journal when he is good and when he is bad and what he did, ate… during those times. You should not feel alone. I do not know where you live but taking him to a Cleveland or Mayo Clinic is worth his quality of life. That is where we found success. It is called interactive medicine. They even will do online second opinions. Jo

      Reply
      • Denise

        Jo, Just read your post about your son and similar experiences you had as I am with my child. Thank you. My heart aches and breaks on regular basis for him. I am trying to get him out of the “medicated” period… I just don’t think it is helping and sometimes I think it causes a lot of the problem… but just when I start to wean him off, he gets so off kilter that I put him back on.. I actually have heard something about folic acid and anxiety recently… do they actually give the child doses of folic acid daily? I will have to ask his therapist and dr.’s about this. I am presently homeschooling him because of all the difficulty he was having at school and not socializing with anyone when he was there. He despises school, and has since he was three. I tried to stick it out but this school year I finally pulled him out. Strangely, I expected to see a big relief in him, but he still complains about school only now he complains about homeschool! I can’t seem to win. I feel for him though… he was always such a sweet soul, my little angel… and now he just suffers so much and often takes his hostility out on me, his sister, those closest to him. I will keep trucking along though, seeking out new things that improve the quality of his life.. thanks again. and I will follow up with the information you provided as well.

        Reply
        • lu

          Hi Denise, how is your son? Please read Dr Peter Breggin about what psychotropic drugs do to the brain and body.
          The worst thing is to stop giving him the medication and then to start giving him again.
          The medication does not help, it is a hoax, the only thing it does is create even more problems.
          Your son seems to be in withdrawal and that can take a lot of time to recover from (between 6 months to 2 years or even more).
          Please please read the work of Peter Breggin MD or read Anatomy of an Epidemic’ by Robert Whitaker, Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime…how Big Pharma has corrupted health care”, by Professor Peter Gotzsche or read this blog https://www.madinamerica.com/ .
          Please understand that these drugs are like opium drugs and they get people addicted and create a lot of trauma from the brain that takes lots of time to recover from.
          Your son needs good nutrition, a standard american diet is creating a lot of problems like anxiety, ADHD, ADD, depresion, gastrointestinal issues and many many more.
          Ckeck out Weston A Price foundations work about traditional diets and check out GAPS diet, this seems to help with autism, Jenny Mc Carthy cured her son from autism with diet.
          Please understand that the only chance your son has is a radical lifestyle change and that depends on you, how much you are willing to research, dont believe the medical establishment, it is in bed with big pharma and does not have your interest at heart but care only for the big bucks.

          I am so sorry for your son, I am still recovering from clonazepam and know first hand that this drug creates severe gastrointestinal issues, hypothyroidism, adrenal glands problems, anxiety, rebound insomnia and many more symptoms.

          https://www.benzobuddies.org/forum/index.php

          This is a great forum where you can understand the magnitude of benzodiazepine withdrawal.

          If you have questions dont hesitate to ask and please excuse my english, am not a native speaker.
          Take care and best of luck.

          Reply
    • Teresa Cobb

      Have you ever considered the diagnosis of PANDAS or PANS? Many children will have an autoimmune reaction in their bodies after a viral or bacterial illness that will cause anxiety, OCD, extreme clinginess to one parent, fear of the dark, fear of dying, etc. Please check with the PANDAs Resource Network or the OCDFoundation for more information. The information we found there saved our son and our family!

      Reply
      • Denise

        Thank you Teresa… I actually have not heard of PANDAS or PANS. To my knowledge he hasn’t suffered and autoimmune reaction, but he certainly has had his share of infections, sinus, pneumonia, etc. I always assumed the Anxiety came from him being on the Autism Spectrum (more Asperger’s Syndrome). But he was diagnosed with Anxiety in about 2007, at the age of six! but even as a baby, he showed signs of great fear. He didn’t go to many people, willingly, in the family… he was mostly at ease with myself, his dad, and my mother. that’s it! I will definitely do some research on PANDAS. I appreciate your feedback and sharing the experience or information you had.

        Reply
        • Emily

          I know this is late, but I wanted to reply in case you do see it. I have Aspergers myself and am not a great sleeper. I do best when I’m on my own sleep schedule, which is usually from 1am to 8am. I have to go to bed when I’m actually tired, if I try to go to bed at 10 like my other family members, I will toss and turn all night even though I eventually feel tired. I’m not sure if this is possible with your son since you say he is tired at bed time, but maybe he is only mentally tired but not physically (or vice versa). Maybe he should try staying up later to see if it helps when he does try to sleep, even if he eventually falls asleep on the couch. Just thinking here.

          Another thing that helps me is white noise. There are many options, but I like a fan. Other options are white noise machines or low volume music (a CD is best because it will be predictable to his brain over time, not like the radio that might suddenly start playing static or loud siren noises, etc.). A nice back rub before bed helps too!

          As for fear of vomiting, maybe you can give him some ginger candy or tea at night. Ginger helps calm the stomach. Maybe just the thought of taking something to help prevent nausea and vomiting will help him relax. Do be honest that it might not help 100% of the time if he has a bad bug though, or it will upset him more if it ever doesn’t work. Another thing you can do is keep a plastic bag or small trash can next to his bed, so if he does feel like he needs to vomit, it will be right there and he will be less likely to get it on himself or his bed (if that was part of what bothered him before). If he does wake up and complain of stomach pain, take him seriously. Offer him more ginger and sit up with him, stay calm and don’t get annoyed. I didn’t have this particular problem, but I know that nothing hurts more than when your parent doesn’t believe you or acts like you are annoying them.

          Maybe you could also start a reward scheme with him, where he can make goals for himself that he can accomplish (I will stay in bed for at least five minutes before I go get my parent, I will try having a ginger candy and doing some deep breathing before I get up, etc.) and he gets a sticker in the morning if he did it. After he gets so many stickers, he gets a reward (meal out, New toy, time alone with parent, extra computer time, whatever). It needs to be things he can accomplish, not goals like sleeping all night or not worrying about throwing up. This will help give him some bedtime successes and confidence to counteract some of the “failures” he has nightly.

          You’re spot on when you say it feels like something he has to do because it is (from my experience). It’s pretty miserable. I know how it feels to wonder why you are like “that”. Make sure you let him know he isn’t alone, and point out his good traits. Let him know he might not have those skills/interestls/passions/knowledge if he didn’t have Aspergers, and that you wouldn’t change him because you love him and not some other kid he would be if he wasn’t autistic. I know that sounds weird, but that’s the number one thing my mom said to me that made me feel better about myself because I sometimes felt like an annoyance or even burden to my family. Do you have any autism/Aspergers support groups in your area that he could go to? I go to one and it’s the best feeling in the world to be among my real peers and not feel like the odd one out. It has helped me a lot with feelings of isolation.

          As for general anxiety, he might grow out of it some as he ages. I was also diagnosed and treated for anxiety from an early age and it was probably the worst it ever got in middle school. I was also treated with various medications and antipsychotics that did nothing. I became a vegetarian when I was 18, and an unexpected benefit of that was a huge drop in my anxiety levels. I would not push your son to become a vegetarian, but if he ever expresses interest in it, it might be worth trying. I think ageing itself helped too. Of course I still worry quite a bit more than most people, but not to the levels I used to.

          Did he get his cortisol level tested? I have Addisons disease (autoimmune adrenal insufficiency) and had many of the symptoms mentioned in the article as well as even more difficulty sleeping at night. Treating adrenal diseases (whether it’s too much or too little cortisol) should help him if he has one.

          I wish you both the best of luck!

          Reply
  28. Diana Lesher

    I don’t feel well half the time and I don’t know why… do u think I don’t produce enough cortisol in my body? do u think I don’t have enough symptoms to actually have this disease and should I just ask a doctor? of course there is no harm in asking a question.

    Reply
    • Jess

      The testing for Adrenal Insufficiency of Addison’s is hell. It’s not just a “Oh yes, you don’t make enough cortisol.” So simply not feeling well? I don’t know. Not feeling well is very vague. But if you really think you have it, then I don’t see why not. But I would do some more research.

      Reply
      • Diana Lesher

        thanks! very vague symptoms indeed.

        Reply
      • mimi

        Hi guys. I am having constant severe headaches and feeling anxious. My face and body g
        feel pins and needles. Lack of sleep. Any idea?

        Reply
  29. Susan Wanciak Holznagel

    I have acromegaly, my doctor is retesting my cortisol levels. My Sandostatin to reduce my GH levels is causing elevated cortisol levels. I’d like more info so I can go to the doctor with a bit more knowledge of cortisol and actual Cushings. Got anything?

    Reply
  30. Renee

    Thank you for this article Dr. Lissa! We just discovered high cortisol levels in my blood and quite frankly, I’m relieved. I have all of the signs you’ve listed. I’ve suffered for years from high stress levels primarily attributed to having an inoperable brain mass. I’ve been in counseling since it’s discovery but the stress is still indescribable at times. Thank you for giving me hope that I can feel better!

    Reply
  31. Angela Dean

    Hello. I’ ve had depression and anxiety attacks for years, adrenaline is NO friend of mine, and had some rather severe health problems for about 3 months now. I’m nauseous, shakey, no energy, headaches, no appitite, stomach pains, diareah, very jumpy, have either hot flashes or cold sweats, a lot of trouble sleeping, I’m always exhausted no matter how much sleep I get, I’ve lost a lot of weight, I’m irritable, my concentration and focus is shot. So far all blood, urine and xrays have shown is I don’t have pneumonia, mono or whatever else they test for at hospital. I have this thought, idea, whatever. Is it possible that my stupid body has locked itself into fight or flight mode?

    Reply
    • Jam

      Honey, I’ve been there/ still there but not as bad. I also suffered 3 months miserably. I was in and out the er. Some supplements did help with anxiety but I’m still getting weird shakes around menstrual cycle. Right now I take b vitamins super complex, magnesium, and Q10. Do you try ensure shakes and a balanced diet? My nausea went away and no appetite THANK GOD! I feel much better but still have my days and am still seeing specialist.My cortisol levels were high also.

      Reply
  32. kathy

    My AM cortisol lab just came in at 31.3…PA says thats healthy. I am the one who asked for the test based on symptoms. I know labs can go outside the range and sometimes its not a big deal. High end of this range is 19.4..should I be worried?

    kathy

    Reply
  33. Deborah Dyer

    I recently asked my Doctor to test my TSH levels. The result reflected “normal”. I still have every symptom of someone who would have an underactive thyroid. I consulted a homeopath who suspected i may have high cortisol levels. After reading the symptoms above i seem to perhaps be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. I need to understand if hyperthyroidism causes Adrenal Fatigue or visa versa, or are they two completely different dissorders? My GP wanted to prescribe and anti depressant but i don’t believe this will resolve what is going on with my body. Do you have any advice for me?

    Kindest regards & thanks
    Debs

    Reply
    • Jam

      My gp wanted me on anti depressants also but I felt like it would mask the problems so I didn’t take them. I went to a specialist and she preformed test I requested that my gp wouldn’t and I found out my levels were high. I recommend trying supplements but I’m not a dr so don’t take my word but the ones I’m taking helped me. Also I heard it could be borderline and make a difference

      Reply
    • JonGrant

      What was your actual TSH level; the ranges are very broad for what they consider normal. If it was higher than 2 you could easily still be hypothyroid. And it would be better to test T3 and rT3.

      Reply
  34. MP

    So I am 16 and besides the sex part I have all those other symptoms. My family is going through a really tough spot as my parents are splitting and I was trying not to let it bother me but now with my mum starting to look for a house and changing her number it’s getting to real. I have been having these problems for the last 6 months and have known about my parents for 10 so I do know that is the major cause of all my stress. Is it unnatural to have that much stress at my age? I’ve tried many different stress relieving things such as working out and trying to be healthier. I have a few hobbies that I let myself get really into but nothing seems to working. Will I ever be able to get rid of the symptoms?

    Reply
    • Charles Skinner

      Can you access counseling? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy should help, if you truly WANT it.
      Vit. B COMPLEX, 100mg 2x daily, and more if drinking. MAGNESIUM, double or triple label amounts, zopiclone ( Imovane for temporary use) to restore sleep patterns. Omega 3’s, triple the label dose, and don’t worry about the 6’s or 9’s.I’ve got lots more advice, but it’s 7 am here and I haven’t slept.

      Reply
  35. andariel

    From andariel
    I just recently turned 17 and decided to start working out. I have a very poor diet and always have but I’m not over weight (I don’t look fat) I’m about 5`3 and weight around 130 pounds. I never really worked out before and this past year I dropped out of school for a lot of reasons and have become very inactive. So this birthday I thought why not start working out so I can look really good this summer. So for the past four days if been busting my ass. I do about 15 min of cardio and 15 min of various other things. I do not have acne proned skin at all. Iv only ever had one pimple and it was nothing worth popping. And these past few days if broke out on my forehead. And I got bad cramps and brown discharge as if I was starting my period. But I’m on the depo shot and have been since November. So I don’t get my period anymore. This is when I really started to worray 🙁
    Did I work to hard and mess up my cortisol

    Reply
    • ks

      my dr is blaming the depo for my fatigue and weight gain. I’m at an age that I know I won’t be having kids so I’m getting fixed permanently to get off the depo…which turns out is one of the worst bc options to be on and it’s not supposed to be used for more than a year…I’m on year 2.

      Reply
  36. beenie

    I’ve had terrible fatigue and nightmares ever since I had a massive reaction to an antifungal medication. I feel so tired in the mornings, I just have zero energy – worse even, I feel light headed and ill. I have strange dreams and nightmares every night and am slightly more prone to depression and anxiety ever since the med reaction. This has been going on for 6 months. I just feel like my body must be in some kind of fight or flight for me to be so disturbed during sleep and for my rest to be so bad. Anyone have any ideas?

    Reply
  37. Andreas Theodoulou

    What is the best natural medecine to take for cortisol??

    Reply
  38. molly

    by darn, THANK YOU, Lisa. I could not have said it better. I found a significant relief with ‘cortisol manager’, prazosin, treatment for ADHD, learning to say NO a lot, trusting my inner guidance and putting myself in kinder company..or completely withdraw :P.. And knowing what I want.

    Reply
    • jen

      yes! cordisol manager is awesome! natural supplements and balances the cordisol levels. My 4 year olds are both high and low. cordisol manager along with b vitamins work wonders for her!

      Reply
  39. Lorraine f

    that answers alot LISSA, im wondering do you know the reason for low coritsol? ive been told that many of the symphtoms are the same and im just wondering could you help ?

    Reply
  40. Jennifer Stephan

    Thank you Lisa! I had my cortisol levels checked by ordering a test at home from here; https://ow.ly/A85dm. Not only was the test actually in a super cute package, but I got one on one consultation about my results that totally put me on the right track. Together, my consultant helped me step by step and kept testing until things got night and day better. Check them out, https://ow.ly/A85dm

    Reply
  41. disqus_YnkmKUti7j

    YAY!!!!!!!!!! My dr. wrote a slip for lab work months ago to test my adrenal glad and a certain hormone that is only released between 7 and 8 am (no clue what that is). It’s been on my “to do” list, but after reading this?? SO going tomorrow. Thank you so much for the information!

    Reply
  42. JT

    80%? is that bad?

    Reply
  43. farahnaz

    i feel the same with me as i suffering from obesity.thanks for the information about cortisol.

    Reply
  44. farahnaz

    sister lissa please advice me how can i get rid of obesity s i usualy remains stress by my mother in law,s activity.

    Reply
  45. Lori Gath

    I think that having too much cortisol could very well be my problem. How do I get my doctor to see if its really what’s going on? I have most of the signs. And apparently for a very long time. Is there any type of medicine I can take. Right now I’m on Metformin, zetia, oxycodone, flexerill,diovan,melatonin… I just thought it was from my thyroid or getting older. Please tell me how to get help if this is what’s going on?

    Reply
    • JaniceELP

      Lori, you can’t rely solely on traditional medicine to help with some problems. You might have to do what I did and take charge of your own health issues. (Even my own doctor admitted to me that “traditional medicine is primitive”.) It just doesn’t have all the answers. If you haven’t done so yet, you might want to try what Lissa Rankin recommended in another article to use for this problem. The supplements Lissa recommended were Isocort (by Bezwechen, which is no longer available) and DHEA.
      I took 10 mg. of DHEA and 2 Isocort pellets daily. I also bought
      one Eleuthero Root capsule daily, which was recommended by the clerks at Whole Foods.
      That combination worked wonders for me. (By the way, Flexeril is a muscle relaxant, which can make you drowsy and even less able to function. Along with the supplements I mentioned above, I also took a supplement called “Adrenal Health” from Whole Foods. That calmed me down when I became stressed, but it didn’t make me drowsy like Flexeril does.) I wish you well and great health coming your way!

      Reply
  46. Mullar Sharron

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    Reply
  47. Roxy Rolla

    That is me to a Teeeeeeeeee omg!!!! how much more do I have to endure on top of everything else….. u don not even know………. I need divine intervention at this point I cannot go on like this!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  48. Bobby Stranger

    Great stuff!

    Also look into Cushing’s Disease (tumour of the adrenal), which produces elevated cortisol.

    Reply
  49. Kathryn Bishop

    So where did this tight jaw come from? The chronic headaches? The tight neck muscles , knots in my shoulders ? Is it too much cortisol? Yet I have not been stressed now for two years. Well not much anyway. I know it has something to do with the menopause. I eat healthy. I exercise. I enjoy life in between the chronic headaches. But I am sick of them and they don’t go away despite me giving up sugar and eating spinach ? Sleeping 8-9 hours a night. Rarely going out past 10 pm. Will it ever end??? How can I get rid of the cortisol???

    Reply
  50. lucy

    I think i already knew all this as I’ve had problems for so long now !!! In 2 days it will be 1 yr since i had my Pituitary gland removed. I had an over abundance and hyperplasia of the ACTH cells. No specific tumor, just an over active Pituitary. The neuro surgeon took out as much of the pituitary gland as possible without causing too much damage to the hypothalamus. I did end up with Diabetes Insipidus post surgery, But that has now settled. The only problem now is my cortisol is still high, despite having those ACTH cells removed. My levels have decreased slightly but are still around 900 ( normal range here is 119-618). Levels pre surgery were 1250. So yes there is an improvement. My ACTH dropped to nil after surgery, but slowly increased over the first 4 months and now sits on the high side of normal to slightly high. I dont sleep well, Ive had double lots of antibiotics for several infections in the last month. I have muscle weakness and an aching body, stairs are horrid, getting up out of a chair horrid. Oh and i had my vitamin D checked 3 months ago and it was so low the reading was next to nil. 5 months ago i went through a very scary life isnt worth living stage. Ended up on antidepressant/antianxiety meds and have been seeing a clinical psychologist. My main concern is…. I’m constantly thinking of Plan to end my life ( only reason i havnt is we locked away my insulin ) and i have this constant plan to just take off somewhere and hide out for a while…a month a year, 10 years !!! Not tell anyone where i am, just go. Ive been buying camping gear in preparation. And yes my psychologist has me doing mindfulness sessions, smiling mind apps etc. Yeah i feel better while I’m doing them, but those thoughts never seem to go away. I hate this feeling. I’m seeing my endocrinologist tomorrow, but all they say is ” Your fine dont worry about things “. Easier said than done! I am apparently depressed despite me not feeling depressed. Yes i think everything is going to kill me, planes fall out of the sky, car crash, drowning, shark attack. I cant stop it !!! I’m not fine and i do worry. My blood pressure has been constantly high for at least 5 years, I’m talking 235/127. the lowest its been is 190/105 and thats on 4 blood pressure medications. I am told Im fine, but i know long term high blood pressure does add stress to the body, its shortening my life, yet no one cares. I did have very high blood sugars but they are stable now i’m on insulin. Last time I saw my endocrinologist he told me ALL my TEST RESULTS were NORMAL. When i asked for the levels, cortisol high, acth high, Vitamin D mega low, LFT ( how did he put it, deranged !!! ), Hba1c was getting better, I know its excellent now. But why would a doctor say its normal when it isnt. I just dont understand. Oh My I’m so sorry for this essay !!!! Tomorrow will be interesting to see what the endo says now. I’ve pretty much had enough !

    Reply
    • Sebastian

      You had mentioned MORE THAN ONCE that your vitamin D levels were almost NON-EXISTENT so…PLEASE…for your OWN sake…get on a plan to up your vitamin D levels to OPTIMAL A.S.A.P.!! You can retest on 2-3 months with a simple at-home blood-spot tedt for like $50. Just make sure to take vitamin D 3 (not the commonly dr-prescribed d2) along with vitamin k1 AND magnesium. At least 5,000 IUs of vit D3 a day (along with the other vits mentioned) & then retest your blood levels in 2-3 months. You are torturing yourself…PLEASE read up on all the symptoms of vit D defficiency (which you yourself had said that you are SEVERELY deficient in!!). There are actually MILLIONS of people now deficient in this vitamin…even with (what they assume to be) adequate sun exposure. It is actually becoming an epidemic but most drs rarely want to even test for it (or they end up ordering the wrong type of vit d blood test…since there are 2 available) and then they end up prescribing the inferior form of the vitamin (d2 vs d3) not to mention about not knowing that there are other co-facors needed to actually absorb the vit d itself (k1 & magnesium). So long story short..PLEASE educate yourself on really HOW MANY THINGS this one vitamin is really responsible! (from absorbing calcium into your bones AND teeth…to literally causing depression..among other things most people..like I used to..wouldn’t even suspect). I hope this helps you even a tiny bit. I wish you well! =)

      Reply
  51. shelly

    Im sure i have high cortisol iv gained 30 lbs i eat healthy but im gaining alot of weight in my stomach i feel nlike somethings akways stuck in my throat always tired skin rashes saw endrinologist a week ago he took urine test he figures i have this im always tired but don5 sleep good i dont hardly eat still gaining alot of weight

    Reply
  52. Donna Apodaca

    Jennifer M, I just want you to know I’m lifting you up in prayer. Stay strong and courageous while you search for healing. I pray you’re healed soon, I’m believing in a miracle for you and your daughter!

    Reply
  53. Scott Marshall

    Hi Lissa!
    I wonder if you could help at all, I am really at my wits end!! I have been having sleeping difficulties for around 6 years, and have been a regular gym user in that time. I have stripped away everything & had various tests done, but only when I thought it could be the gym resistance training I have been doing for years, and stopping 6 months ago did my sleep return to normal, in fact, not working out meant I had wonderful sleep pattern & woke up feeling totally refreshed which I hadn’t experienced in years! The best way of describing my symptoms when using the gym would be to feel ricidulously alert, almost on edge at the point of trying to go to sleep, at a normal hour, I would wake up very early morning around 2-4am to go to the toilet, and then be restless for the remainder of the night, waking up in the morning feeling hungover!! Really horrendous, night after night the same thing happened. I have stripped away everything, no longer use protein shakes, no caffeine, very healthy diet, had tests originally on my water works, I have recently had my hormones tested, blood & urine samples, both returned as normal. But I have attempeted to go back to the gym on several occassions in the last 6 months as I loved it & was a huge part of my life, playing sports also, but both cardio & resistance workouts had the same effect each time, affecting my sleep on the same evening & also the following evening, before returning to normal & normal sleep pattern returned on the third night. I am now starting research quote heavily on the internet looking for answers as I love being active….I’m hoping if I can understand what reaction my body goes through after exercise, i may be able to treat it…….could I have high cortisol levels possibly, bearing in mind my hormone urine test came back as normal? I would like to do a series of tests, take a supplement to try & level out my cortisol levels after traininig to see if that makes a difference, any advice on which to take?! Any advice would be much appreciated, I dont want to give up on an active life style just yet! Thank you

    Reply
    • CJ Long

      Hi Scott,
      That sounds very similar to what I have been experiencing for the last 6 years.

      Based on my research, it appears to be an automonous nervous system disorder.

      I assume you wake up with an excessively high early morning heart rate the next day after exercise?

      I have made a few attempts to get back into powerlifting, however when I get to a certain threshold of either strength or volume, my sleep cycle goes kaput and have to call it quits for a few months.

      My only advice would be too start with some very light cardio a couple of times a week and then _slowly_ increase both the intensity and the duration over a couple of months.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  54. 'goddie Darko'

    Nice article
    IBS and CSR in one Eye.. all because of this fucking hormone…

    Reply
  55. Irin J Blessina

    these are soo relatable! I cant sleep well, I’m always tired. I cant lose my belly fat and I have a buffalo hump now. I catch cold very easily. its all soo relatable, but can you lower cortisol levels naturally? and will that reduce my buffalo hump and belly fat? or should i take supplements?

    Reply
  56. Katronia

    I am CONVINCED I have an issue with too much Cortisol and also that I have a Metabolic disorder and Insulin Resistance. I was in a car accident in April of 2010. I was healing the 1st year and put on extremely high doses of narcotic pain medicines and muscle relaxers (Soma) the deadliest combo for health I could never have imagined until now. I literally lost 3 years of my life to those meds and the past year I have struggled to lose weight with nominal exercise because of my back injuries and living with pain but no matter what I do (I want to explain that I am a STRICT Vegetarian that does NOT eat huge bowls of pasta or bread.. in fact I went weeks without anything but fruits, vegetables and nuts and did not lose an OUNCE!) Something is WRONG and I stumbled upon this site in my search for answers. I also have noticed a change in my body hormonally. I just turned the dreaded 39 and want kids BADLY (the accident prolonged my trying and wouldn’t think of getting pregnant on all those medicines) and I suddenly started getting what I can only explain as cystic acne on my body and pimples on my face and never , not even when I was a teen, did I get pimples or these welts before my cycle. I am so frustrated and depressed and don’t know what kind of Doctor to see and what to ask for when I go to alleviate these issues. I am thinking an Endocrinologist and some education from THIS SITE would do me a world of good. If anyone has any comments or advice. Please feel free to email me at : TKat75@gmail.com I am desperate for answers and feel like my life is slowly slipping away. I hope everyone here feels better and wish you all health and happiness. P.S. I come from a long line of worriers and just spent the past five years dealing with my accident, a diagnosis of Stage 4 Breast Cancer for my Mom, a fiance that is a recovering addict which is always a worry and panicking over the fact that I am getting up there in years and I am so afraid about having issues trying to conceive.. I am a walking stress bucket! ) Thanks for reading and if there is a support group on here.. I am so IN.. Looking for the page on FB later. Be well everyone and thanks Lissa for this site. I am hopeful that I can claim some of my sanity back after reading some of your blog. Sincerely,
    Katronia in NY

    Reply
  57. Robyn Brownlee

    This should be called ten reasons I’m screwed! Lol

    Reply
  58. Janet Busvek

    I am tired all day and come alive at about 10 pm and can’t sleep without drugs. I am tired all day sluggish, stressed, depressed etc. My cortisol levels were done and it showed me having low levels in the morning and high at night. Exactly opposite from what it should be. I have fibromyalgia but wonder if that is a symptom of the adrenals and cortisol levels being crazy. I just can’t live like this as the world goes around during the day and I can’t function. It is 3:00 am right now and everyone else is asleep??? Can anyone help me?

    Reply
  59. Tony Slaughter

    I work 3 jobs and have been for abou 7 months. Most days I will sleep 4 hours for 4 days. I try going out and feel like i am always rushing and can never really Relax because i feel like i have to do something and experience throbbing headaches. I do not know what to do.

    Reply
  60. Tracey

    Wow, Lissa! You have hit the nail on the head! And if I didn’t know better, I would believe you were talking about me in your list of symptoms above. I know where my stress comes from, however, I don’t see those issues being resolved quickly. So, what can I do or take to reduce my cortisol production right now?

    Reply
  61. DeJayne

    I’m in the uk and my doctor refuses to test for this. They thinki should get off the web and not self diagnose but I’ve been ill for over 20 yrs since a very sick 3rd pregnancy. They’re done a thyroid check and said it’s within reasonable although borderline low. I go to the gym 6 days a week and i obsess about what I’m eating because I’m desperate to lose weight. Yet I’ve lost very little in the 5 yrs I’ve been doing this and I’m still massively over weight. It’s hard to stay motivated and I’m constantly battling depression. I read this list and identify with it all! I wake up feeling like I’ve not slept. I have fatigue all day. I push myself for the sake of my family. Night comes and i can’t sleep! I think i need to see someone privately but i don’t know where to start. Would this come under endocrinology? If anyone reading this is in the uk and knows where i begin to try and get tested I’d really appreciate suggestions. I can’t go on like this. I have 5 kids and 3 have special needs. 2 are adults and still need high levels of care and support. Reducing stress levels is not an option even though i try not to get stressed!

    Reply
  62. Coleen McCarthy

    Yes, I definitely have too much cortisol. I am going through Perimenopause and it is hard because I become very stressed out. I am going to start doing Hatha yoga and see how I feel. I also a serious life event that is going to happen and I will have to fly on planes quite a bit. I get most worried during the periods I get. When I don’t have my period I cope with things better. I am now also going to church and praying to God for strength. Today I came home and started to feel better but this morning I was crying and felt like it was the end for me. I blame the hormones and high cortisol levels. I also have a very hard life because I am going through a tough time. I try not to watch too much news because that always seems to affect it more. The news makes you feel like you could die tomorrow.

    Reply
  63. Kim Crawford MD

    Excellent article and it seems NO ONE in the medical community knows a thing about adrenal fatigue. Here is a decent article I did for your readers. httpss://www.drkimsagewellsolutions.com/how-to-get-energy/

    Reply
  64. slav

    thanx, i Am looking for reason why I am getting very stressed in some situations. Like I am trying to learn how to ride scooter. I have really good attitude and I am not afraid but when I make one mistake or two I start to panic, I am doing stupid things and fail to pass exams. This is just example, I can find this situations in all my life. I am extremely calm person but I at some point I get this shot of something that makes me panicking and over sensitive I think it might be cortisol as I know how adrenaline works for me and it is not it.

    Reply
  65. Genevieve Peace Friedman

    I’m sure mine are off the charts, I have been in ‘fight or flight’ for so very long, a DV victim for over 20 years and unable to turn it off. Single mother of two, terribly overwhelmed, no friends, no family, no way to unwind at the end of the day. In fact, I think I may have had a minor heart attack today, but what am I to do about it? I dn’t have money or insurance….. it is what it is. I wonder who will take care of my children when I pass…..

    Reply
  66. Bingbing

    i have many of the above mentioned symptoms, plus my emotions r all over the place.. i want to go on a diet but i keep on craving carbs.. midnight snack cravings r the worst.. when i workout, my body inflates.. i see some signs of hypothyroidism too.. i m 27 female n unmarried.. please suggest something to help.. the other solutions on the internet only provide the medicine or herbs that r not present in my country or locale..

    Reply
  67. Queencreekmom

    Hello, I’m not sure if this will be read but here goes… I’m 44 and was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer in 2011 and had a partial thyroidectomy. Before my diagnosis I had been to over 13 different Dr’s because I knew something was wrong, but of course I was told “you need to diet” or “your depressed”. My diagnosis was found by accident because I went to the ER for heart problems (Afib) and during a CT they found my nodules. Very looooong story short, I’m worse now than I was before surgery. I’ve gained a tremendous amount of weight in my abdomen, I have extreme fatigue, my face is round and puffy, I have these huge stretch marks, i recently had to have a vaginal ablation, my libido is non-existent,insomnia, and no matter what I do I cannot loose weight. The list seems endless and I can’t stand living like this anymore! I can’t find any Dr’s that will listen. I need help…

    Reply
  68. lmsteele

    Hello, I had a car accident in March 2015. My car was hit from behind (while I was stopped at a stop light) @ approximately 40 MPH. I suffered severe whiplash and had several months of physical therapy, chiropractic visits, etc… During this time period I had absolutely no energy. I had to work during the week, but on the weekends I laid in bed mostly and didn’t even shower. I had been taking Synthroid for a pre-existing thyroid condition for approximately 12 years before this accident. I had my annual checkup with my endocrinologist in August 2015. When he looked at my test results my thyroid was way off (I am assuming because of the accident)? He changed the Synthroid and the next month tested it and it was still off. Then he changed his approach, I am now on a lower dose of Synthroid, and a different medication for my T3. He says that I am in the “normal” range now, but I do not feel any better. I having been steadily gaining weight since this accident. I am 5’4″ and I was 145 before the accident. Today I am 172. I have not changed my eating habits. I should mention that I am pre-menopausal and at my OB/GYN appointment she tested me and I am still pre-menopausal. I just feel like my total health has been going downhill since this accident and I will never be the same. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  69. Sam

    Is Rhodiola Rosea a good thing to take when you think you may have excess cortisol? I have a spare tire that I cannot get rid of and I did go through years of over-the-top stress… enough to trigger depression and anxiety, lowered immune system, insomnia, etc. Now I can no longer work due to a lowered ability to handle stress. I’m considering starting on that Rhodiola.

    Reply
  70. Meadowlarker

    All of the above! I have especially noticed the headaches as the day goes on.. i get sudeen spikes of pain that literally feels inside the brain.. I do not sleep well, even though I am so tired.. My blood pressure gets so high, it is stroke level. I exercise all the.. Ride my bike over 100 miles a week, but I cannot get rid of the gut. I get constipation from time to time. I get panic attacks at night when I am trying to go to sleep… Everything that you said..

    Reply
  71. bri

    I had a baby going on a year ago and now it feels like I hit a wall trying to lose the baby weight. I knew from the being I was probably going to take longer to lose it than it did with my first child and told myself its ok long as I eat healthy and get exercise. But now its going on a year and being the heaver I way the worse my blood pressure is I really feel the need to lose it. I have lost quite a bit but still have quite a ways to go till my healthy weight. But I always feel stressed and from your list cortisol sounds like it could be my problem. Is there any way to try to get it down? I have 2 young kids (not in school) my fiancé is a retired marine trying to go to college but has pretty bad case of PTSD and I am trying to go to college as well feels like the stress never ends. I need to lose my weight I have very bad BP and heart problems in my family… I’m a very confused and lost mommy that just wants to be healthy for her little guys and could really use some help.

    Reply
  72. Jeanette Mccarthy

    HELP! Someone help me! I have Very high cortisol levels 12.3-13.4 ng/ml throughout every day. I am on so many medications, but I’m not getting better. I’m 42 yrs old, I have three children, twins 3 yrs old and a 13 yr old. I’ve been sick since the twins were born.
    HELP!

    Reply
  73. Michelle Colecchi Vancas

    I am so tired of doctors. People think I’m a calm prison but the tress & anxiety I have are over the top. I lost the vision in one eye & the other eye needed surgery 4 years ago. My only child was engaged & I was trying to put forward a happy, positive face & enjoy all the gown shopping., etc. even though I wasn’t seeing very clearly. For months, I didn’t move very much because I really couldn’t see. I gained weight. I did regain most of my vision with the help of an excellent doctor. My husband has some black-out episodes while driving & we found out this was his reaction to serious stress levels. Parts of his brain were affected – some short term memory loss. I was able to see to drive at this time. Was cleared by neurologist & was permitted again to drive. Daughter’s wedding. I had to deal with him and his negativity all the time, even though we both were totally happy with our future son-in-law. My husband is just a very negative person. He had lost 180 pounds through an unorthodox diet he created on his own & what he did was deprive his body of vitamins & nutrients that his bones needed, hence the complete deterioration of his back. Then he needed back surgery after the wedding so I was driving (it was approved). There has been little (virtually none) affection in my life for quite some time. He was raised by a cold woman who never wanted a child. In the beginning of our marriage, I showered him with love & attention & got some back, but not any more. There has been no physical contact for years unless I initiate it. Last year, I was diagnosed with lymphedema in both legs & have been struggling with this issue. I have had issues with sudden (urgent),, diarrhea for a couple years & it has gotten worse (many accidents just trying to get from one room to the br.- I sometimes stay home out of fear. Diagnosed with constipation with overflow diarrhea. Then in the Fall, I noticed an extreme amount of hair growth, not only on my face, but on my stomach & abdomen as well. I hadn’t shaved under y arms for years – soddenly, lots of hair growth. I have been going for electrolysis since October & we’re barely keeping up with it.Hair on the top o my head started falling out. Huge weight gain across midsection! Diagnosed with Hirsutism & high levels of testosterone & cortisol & a spongiform thyroid (one doctor wanted to perform a biopsy in his office & a noted expert in the field said NO). I have been put through a barrage of test by so many different doctors. Everyone is convinced I have a cancerous tumor somewhere. Everything has turned up negative. All my organs are healthy and the adrenal glads are fine.The endo. doc thinks my ovaries are suspiciously missing & ordered an invasive test which my gynecologist shot down & said she sees absolutely nothing wrong with the almost non-existent ovaries. I am 66 years old & she said if they wre clearly visible at t his age, she would be concerned!). She also said there is nothing wrong with my uterus. In the meantime, my breasts have shrunk 2 cup sizes since Fall. The hair growth is distressing & embarrassing. Losing my hair is horrible. I rarely sleep more than a coupe hours each night (for years now). The weight gain is alarming & I am always hungry! I am literally beside myself. Why can’t they just treat the elevated cortisoil level? I need help!

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  74. William Porter

    I am a biologist, not an MD, but I question the way this was worded. I have idiopathic primary adrenal insufficiency. I take hydrocortisone daily. Too much cortisone increases appetite and can cause weight gain and impairs sleep. causes osteoporosis, leaches Ca and K and a host of more serious problems. Taking cortisol (or prednisone) increases sexual appetite. Stress alone can kill desire, but not cortisol – unless perhaps it’s elevated above biological levels for long periods artificially. Most physicians don’t accept ‘adrenal fatigue’ as a diagnosis. The head of endocrinology at Emory told me that whatever is wrong with my adrenal glands, whatever caused it, they will heal. After years of headache, vertigo, vomiting, hives and frequent infections I was suicidal from pain. I accepted the diagnosis of an endocrinologist in Tallahassee and started taking 25 mg of hydrocoritsone/day and my life improved dramatically. I don’t have a clue how low cortisol caused frequent debilitating headaches, but I don’t have them anymore. I get sick far less often since starting on hydrocortisone. I question blaming all stress-induced problems on elevated cortisol and I think it’s silly to diagnose one’s self. You know you have too much cortisol if blood tests indicate it recurrently.

    Reply
    • Lissa Rankin

      Dear William,
      You are technically accurate in your reply. This article is written for the general public and not for those who have true adrenal disease. Cortisol is a very tricky hormone- changing all the time and very cyclical, with very seemingly contradictory effects on the body. So you can’t fully express the scientifically valid effects of cortisol in this kind of article. Thanks for your feedback. If I were to write a scientific article for colleagues or a treatise for patients with adrenal disease, I would have written a very different article.

      Blessings on your healing journey
      Lissa

      Reply
  75. Erin

    I have 9 out of the 10. My blood test for my thyroid came back normal just a month ago. I’m on Adderall and Efexor and that’s not even helping. I’m at my wits end with constantly being tired, on edge, no patience etc.

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  76. Margaret Wood

    can high cortisol levels cause long term memory loss

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  77. Greeley Miklashek

    Thank you, Lissa! I’m a retired neuro-psychiatrist and am writing a book on stress: “Stress R Us”. In treating 25,000 patients and writing 1,000,000 Rx, I came to understand my patients underlying pathology was always an over-active stress response. I’ve come to call our condition “population density stress”, although the unnatural “built” urban environments we’ve found ourselves in and the disruption of our original clan social structures are major contributors. Our fellow physicians, Cyril P. Donnison and V. Stefansson, found none of our diseases of civilization in traditional hunter-gatherer and nomadic herders living in their clan social groups in rural Africa and above the Arctic Circle, respectively. Seems we’ve been born into a very stressor rich physical environment and without the life-long social support of our ancestral clan social groups, at least in our modern, “advanced”, Western, urban world. No wonder we are becoming ever sicker and infertile. 10,000 years ago, our ancestral populations numbered no more than 6,000,000 on the entire earth. We are now 1233 times as many. Only reducing our human overpopulation, preserving as much of our daily exposure to natural environments, and reconstructing our clan social structures will reverse this trend. Otherwise we are headed for extinction as a species, if the animal crowding studies from 50-60 years ago are any guide. Best wishes for you and your work!

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  78. Diana LaRose

    Lots of good info here. EXCEPT the part about “adrenal fatigue.” For the life of me, I don’t know why this myth, and an illogical one at that, persists. Overuse of bodily organs doesn’t make them “pooped”. If that were true, we should all quit exercising so our heart and lungs won’t get tired.

    Basically the symptoms you describe would be consistant with Cushing’s disease. I think a lot of people go for cortisol testing because they actually want to be diagnosed with Cushings. It is very distressing to be tired all the time and unable to lose weight despite diet and exercise. Cushing’s provides a handy answer, and effective treatment. Personally, I think mild forms of Cushing’s could be the problem for many people and it is not the “rare” disease that most doctors think it is.
    Adrenal fatigue doesn’t exist, but adrenal insufficiency is a real thing, and it’s entirely different. Associated with low levels of cortisol, it makes you LOSE weight even if you’re not trying to. And it can make you very ill, not just tired. In its acute form, it can even kill you.
    A lot of people are plagued with the triple whammy of fatigue, depression, and weight gain, and they want solutions. IMO, the adrenal fatigue myth evolved to fill that hole. Unfortunately, it’s a lie and will make people waste their money on these snake oil “adrenal support” supplements that will not help them. I mostly blame the medical community for this because they are not providing answers. Doctors and resesrchers need to find out what’s really behind these common symptoms and tell people what to do instead of ssying, “Just lose weight, dear.”

    Reply
  79. Jose Camacho

    Great article, seen many of your videos. My ABSOLUTE EOSINOPHILS is 11 (low), which could mean excessive production of cortisol. Out of the 10 symptoms I believe I have 5. 1-2-7-9-10 plus Adrenal Fatigue. I have 24/7 chest pain (like inflammation) but blood test show no inflammation. Plus pretty bad nasal breathing problems with no congestion. Will this book help me as well? I believe stress (medical issues) is part of the problem.

    Reply
  80. I h

    Hi I just wanted to chime in that i ticked every box for high cortisol..I am trying phosphatidylserine to lower cortisol now

    Reply
  81. I'm Bob Dole

    I hope people don’t confuse these symptoms with what their real conditions are… High Cortisol is a side effect of an unhealthy and stressful life… eating healthy, aka diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in grains and fatty foods, and excersizing regularly are the only two things a person needs to improve their life… there is a reason why your doctor tells you to do these things… no amount of pills or crazy fade diets can replace the real thing… paleo diet isn’t a fad diet it’s the only true diet, processed foods and preservatives are the Devils work.

    Reply
  82. Shifa

    i tested for cortisol levels at 11am and it was at 14..im getting many symptoms from the above.. should i be worried?

    Reply
  83. Johnny Laser

    It is much more common and of greater concern that today’s man has low cortisol…not high. When it comes to your health, cortisol is the “anti-inflammation hormone”.

    Medically, no one benefits by having their cortisol levels reduced (excluding rare conditions like Cushing’s). Almost every disease known to man is caused by chronic inflammation which is usually the result of not having enough cortisol to control your immune system’s inflammatory response.

    Most diseases can be controlled and in some cases remedied via the use of synthetic corticosteroids, which mimics cortisol in vivo, thus indicating your body is not producing enough cortisol of its own. It’s far more advantages to increase your cortisol naturally while simultaneously eliminating things that reduces cortisol.

    It should also be noted that ancient man and our recent ancestors had significantly higher levels of cortisol in their bodies than we do today, and they didn’t suffer from the chronic diseases now plaguing modern man.

    Reply

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