When it comes to general health advice, reducing your stress level tends to be right up there with exercising and eating right. Doctors typically want you to keep the stress hormone cortisol under control. That's because elevated cortisol can affect your immune system, memory, and weight, among other things. Relaxing and managing stress is certainly a good idea, but as with most of our hormones, when it comes to cortisol, one extreme may be just as dangerous as another.
A group of Australian researchers have been researching ways to better identify people who will eventually develop psychosis. Currently, only about 20-30% of high-risk individuals, identified by early symptoms or family history, actually go on to develop psychosis. And there really is no way to predict who is going to be in that group and who isn't.
The research team conducted a meta-analysis of 11 studies to examine the link between cortisol and psychosis. They found that patients with psychosis tend to have low levels of cortisol when they wake up in the morning, even if they were just recently diagnosed. In fact, this abnormal cortisol awakening response, or CAR, may begin occurring even before the patients develop an illness.
Low CAR also has been linked to other chronic diseases as well as systemic inflammation and gut flora changes. Identifying the presence of low CAR could allow for early intervention in these diseases, including psychosis. Since currently very few biomarkers have been identified in psychiatry, utilizing this technique could prove to be invaluable in helping high-risk patients get help early. So if you do have risk factors for psychosis, such as a family member who struggled with this issue, you may want to talk to your doctor to see if it's a good idea to have your cortisol levels checked.
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And if they are low don't feel too bad. Almost every patient I see has adrenal fatigue associated with low cortisol output. Typical signs of low cortisol are unexplained fatigue, which is especially worse after lunch. Other signs include insomnia, headaches, dizziness, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and carbohydrate craving.
If you have any of these symptoms, you probably need to supplement your adrenals to help keep your cortisol balanced. That's why I formulated Advanced Adrenal Factor. This fantastic supplement works wonders for those who suffer from adrenal fatigue. You'll feel more energetic during the day and you'll sleep better at night. And who knows, if you do have an inherited tendency to psychosis, increasing your cortisol levels may be just the thing to prevent the problem.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD