Stress that lasts for a long time can affect us in some different ways, both mentally and physically; for example, it can impair digestion and affect our hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

Cortisol is our so-called “stress hormone” that helps us perform better and act in stressful situations. Cortisol can fluctuate during the day and rise and fall depending on the situation. A healthy cortisol curve should be at its highest in the morning and then gradually decrease during the day. With today’s constant stress, it is common for the curve to look different. For example, it is common to have a flat curve in case of fatigue, while in the case of burnout, the curve is both flat and very low.

You can feel very stressed but still, have low cortisol levels when the stress has been going on for a long time. But on the other hand, you can also feel stressed and have high cortisol. You can thus have the same symptoms but opposite values, so it is essential that you measure the cortisol before you start any treatment. Otherwise it is possible that one might increase already high cortisol levels or decrease cortisol levels that are too low.

With this cortisol test, you can measure your cortisol on seven occasions in one day; read more about it here.

Signal substances
Serotonin and dopamine are examples of some neurotransmitters; they affect our well-being and our behaviour. Chronic stress can disturb the balance of the neurotransmitters and result in us feeling depressed or result in insomnia. Many have experienced that stress can lead to us feeling worse mentally. And for us to feel good mentally, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine need to be in balance.

Serotonin stimulates cortisol. In acute stress, our serotonin levels first rise, but they can gradually decrease when the stress has been going on for a long time.

Dopamine is usually called our “reward hormone” and is needed for us to feel motivated and driven. There is a direct link between addiction and dopamine as a way to release more dopamine as there has been a change in the brain’s reward system. Too high levels can, however, lead to anxiety, memory problems, hyperactivity and mood swings.

In addition to serotonin and dopamine, you can also measure adrenaline and norepinephrine with the Neurotransmitter test Basic. Cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine are counted as our stress hormones. Adrenaline makes our heart rush in stressful situations, and we get an “adrenaline rush”, i.e. extra energy. Noradrenaline helped us to be more alert and focused in stressful situations. Adrenaline and norepinephrine are very similar, stimulating our central nervous system.

If you are curious about measuring your neurotransmitters, the test Neutrotransmitters Basic measures serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, while the test Neurotransmitters Plus measures GABA and glutamate, in addition to serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine.

If you only want to measure serotonin separately, you can also do so.

Stress and hormones
Many people who go through stress also experience that their sex hormones are out of balance. Unfortunately, there is no scientific explanation for why so many people experience this connection, but above all, many women say the same thing. However, a theory states that since cortisol is produced from progesterone, the body will, under stress, prioritize the production of cortisol; after that, progesterone levels can decrease. Here to measure your estrogen and progesterone levels.

Stress and the gut
An essential factor often forgotten is that stress can affect our sensitivity to different foods. When we are stressed, cortisol is released, but when this has been done to a great extent for a long time, it can reduce something called immunoglobulin A (sIgA), which is an antibody found in our mucous membranes. sIgA is one of our first defences to defend us against pathogenic substances such as bacteria and viruses. When the levels of sIgA decrease, it can disturb the intestinal mucosa, which can cause a leaky gut and when we have a leaky gut, we can start to react to many different foods that are not dangerous.

Stress also causes our parasympathetic system to be down-regulated. Our parasympathetic system needs to be active for us to digest food properly. When our digestive system is out of balance, it can cause us to start reacting to food items that are not supposed to be harmful to us.

To heal the intestine, you first need to remove things that interfere, i.e. food that the body reacts to. If you want to measure which foods you react to, you can test it via one of our food intolerance tests, and if you want to test if you have a leaky gut, you can do it via a separate test or our extensive intestinal test Gut Microbiome Test XL.

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