Stress, Adrenal & Cortisol Testing

Wellness Vision, Newcastle

Daily stress resilience and adrenal function is not routinely screened

Conventional adrenal function is testing is to establish if you have extremely high levels of the “stress” hormone cortisol (as seen in Addison’s Disease) or extremely low levels of cortisol (as seen in Cushing’s Syndrome).

Acute or long-term stress or shift-work can disrupt your cortisol rhythm causing anxiety, depression or fatigue, however but this is not routinely assessed. 

How does the test work?

DHEA (or dihydroepialdosterone) is a master hormone produced from cholesterol in your adrenal glands. Besides being essential for adrenal function, DHEA is also needed for sex hormone production and immune function. It is also known that low levels of DHEA are associated with premature aging. DHEA-S is the storage form of DHEA in the body and is therefore a more accurate measure of body DHEA levels.

Cortisol is also produced in the adrenal glands from cholesterol and is needed for stress adaption, immune function, blood sugar regulation, vascular tone, bone metabolism and more. Cortisol has a diurnal 24 hour rhythm which normally spikes within an hour of waking and then gradually declines over the day. Under acute times of stress, cortisol levels can increase significantly and can also remain elevated at night time, thereby affecting sleep and triggering anxiety and depressing your immune system.  Whilst long-term stress can result in decreased cortisol release, resulting in fatigue, brain fog and blood sugar dysregulation.

24 hour cortisol testing including your cortisol awakening response (CAR) – is the best way to assess your cortisol pattern. This test involves taking saliva samples (in the comfort of your own home) at specific times over the day. This can then be assess by a specialist lab to see if you pattern is “normal” or if you have cortisol dysregulation.

Symptoms of cortisol dysfunction include:

  • Fatigue
  • Long-term stress, anxiety or depression
  • Frequent illnesses or infections
  • Severe menopausal symptoms
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Bone thinning
  • Premature aging
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Insomnia
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Fertility issues
  • Thyroid issues