Mind Body Connections Part 3

Mind Body Connections Part 3

We have reviewed general systems associated with Mind Body Connections Part 1 and explored the immune system a little closer in Mind Body Connections Part 2.  This section of Mind Body Connections Part 3, briefly describes cortisol and how it affects our body.


Cortisol is a stress hormone which is secreted by the hypothalamus that affects several different functions in the body including:

  • metabolism
  • blood sugar levels
  • immune responses
  • memory formulation 

Moreover, it helps narrow arteries to increase blood pressure and raises blood sugar along with altering other body functions.

Corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH), a biologic marker of stress, measures our stress levels using our saliva or plasma.

Stress hormones trigger us to become prepared for fast action (fight or flight), and this can be good for our immediate survival and protection. 

Usually, the problem comes when we live in a real or perceived constant state of stress with constant high levels of cortisol.  With highly stressful situations, cortisol levels kick in to help us manage that state of stress.

Consequently, chronic exposure to cortisol can lead to:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • headaches
  • heart disease
  • memory and concentration problems
  • digestion problems
  • sleeping problems
  • weight gain

As a result, we can begin to recognize the need to manage our reactions to stress, to better manage our stress, and why.

McCance, K. L., & Huether, S. E. (2015). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children. St. Louis: Mosby.