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Main stress hormones

It is well known that the human body is perfectly developed system, whose main function is to protect and preserve our health and well-being. Most of our body’s defense mechanisms are provided by hormones. Depending on the situation, our body produces various hormones. For example, if we experience any kind of stress (positive or negative), our body produces a very specific hormones, called “stress hormones”, which immediately respond to a stressor and help the body to overcome emotional, physical, psychological, or chemical exposure. The release of main stress hormones could be interpreted as a normal reaction to threatening factors – factors that can upset the balance of the human body. Stress hormones play an important role in the regulation of several body functions. Main stress hormones regulate our emotions, mood, behavior, sleep habits, hunger and appetite, happiness and sadness.

Usually, stress hormones are released by the body in situations that are interpreted as potentially dangerous to the human body. When we feel the approach of danger and / or attack, our body immediately reacts by releasing stress hormones. The main stress hormones include: cortisol, adrenalin (epinephrine) and noradrenalin (norepinephrine). Several other hormones may also be involved in the body’s response to stress.

Main stress hormones – Cortisol


Cortisol is a corticosteroid, which is produced by the adrenal glands in response to any kind of stress. Usually level of cortisol demonstrates the strength of stress and the degree of body reaction and response. The secretion of cortisol increases in response to any stress, such as physical (illness, injury, abuse, surgery, extreme temperatures, fighting) or psychological (anger, violence in the family, problematic relationships, conflicts, marriage, divorce, unemployment, and imaginary problems). Elevated cortisol levels can cause increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, rapid breathing and heart rate. If body experience on-going stress, it could keep levels of cortisol high during long period which could trigger suppression of the immune system.

Main stress hormones – Adrenaline

Adrenaline (epinephrine) is a stress hormone that is also produced during stress. According to scientists, actually the level of adrenalin start increasing a little bit before the direct stress – when body senses danger and is prepared to respond adequately. Actually the human body increases the concentration of adrenaline in anticipation of danger – a well-known reaction of the body to any kind of threat called “fight or flight”. Adrenaline is released by the adrenal glands when the body expects (feels, senses) the threat.

Main stress hormones implication

Body reaction to the stress could be different. Most common response to stress is so called “fight or flight” response – it starts working when human body experiences shock or perceives different kinds of threat. As a response, body quickly releases so called “stress hormones” that help to survive. Stress hormones mobilize body resources and help us to run faster and fight harder. Stress hormones in bloodstream trigger active changes in the body – shortness of breath and palpitations, redistribution of blood, high blood pressure, mobilization of the immune system, acceleration of reactions and strengthening of overall mental processes. Body becomes ready for any kind of stress – physical, emotional, psychological or chemical.

Main stress hormones – Noradrenaline

Noradrenaline (norepinephrine) is also one of the stress hormones – it is catecholamine which acts not only as a hormone but also as a neurotransmitter. Noradrenaline is released from the adrenal glands into the blood.

As a stress hormone, noradrenaline affects parts of the brain, responsible for attention and speed of response to different events. Noradrenaline is also a part of basic stress response called “fight or flight”. Increased levels of noradrenaline trigger palpitations, increased levels of glucose (released from depot) and increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles.

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