Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (2023)

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Most of us know that too much stress is harmful to health – but, do we know why?

Cortisol, often called the “stress hormone,” impacts the body in so many ways. Weight gain, fatigue, depression, sex drive, and overall mental function can be adversely affected by high levels of cortisol.

Really makes you wonder, why more attention isn’t paid to a hormone that can make a person fat, tired, miserable, AND take away their sex drive.

How does this work?

Well, cortisol can affect metabolic function in a detrimental way. This chemical response to stress tells the body not just to consume more calories, (especially high carbohydrate foods,)but also to store those calories, particularly in the abdomen, close to our core. The body’s natural response is to save calories in case the stress continues or recurs, and this is done by lowering the metabolic rate, which means that under stress, the body will burn fewer calories.

“…why isn’t more attention paid to a hormone that can make a person fat, tired, miserable, AND take away their sex drive?”

While we may not be able to affect the chronic stressors in our environment (pollution, traffic jams), changes in lifestyle can reduce cortisol. High levels of cortisol trigger an enzyme called HSD, which actually reactivates inactive cortisol, causing fat cells to store increasing numbers of calories.

Luckily, HSD can be down-regulated by flavenoids, which are plentiful in vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables such as berries, citrus, leafy greens and other healthy food—like dark chocolate and red wine.Flavenoids can counteract and reduce the impact of cortisol, while also increasing metabolism.

“A finely tuned balance of cortisol and testosterone is essential for managing depression, fatigue and mental function.”

But cortisol alone makes up only half the equation—it’s the balance between cortisol and testosterone that accounts for so much of the negative effect of stress. This is true for men and women. A finely tuned balance of cortisol and testosterone is essential for managing depression, fatigue and mental function.

Two ways to begin balancing these hormones are regular exercise and plenty of sleep.

But it’s not as simple as that. Check out our mind/body programs to see more of what you can do about stress.

Please Leave A Comment

12 Comments

  1. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (1)zazer Delazer, Coach, AF says

    This was really helpful thank you

    Reply

  2. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (2)Felicity Moss, Counseling, CA says

    You really don’t have to exercise like you’re at a gym to feel much better. Very small amounts of exercise that may take less than 2 minutes to start and then adding a little at a time. This along with a diet like I finally found that works will go along way to having you feeling much better about yourself. Some say that depression is all in the head and I can tell you your head is a very powerful engine that can make or break your metabolism and eventually lead to massive weight gain. I myself have found an answer and I try to help others as well. It doesn’t have to cost money to find the answer although sometimes it can help a great deal.

    Reply

  3. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (3)Nina Donskoy, East Brunswick, NJ, USA says

    I used to work out all the time, was so full of energy – even after my first child. Now, 2 kids later plus lots of negative life events plus a drug and alcohol problem and issues with not sleeping, stressing out all the time, and ridiculous fatigue – I can not seem to get it together! It is so depressing. I was literally a size 1, 6 years ago… and just the other day I had TWO PEOPLE ask me if I was pregnant (which I am not). But that is how much belly fat I have accumulated. Not to mention fat everywhere else. I am a shell of who I used to be and honestly just want to end it all sometimes. If it weren’t for the kids, I would’ve by now.

    Reply

    • Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (4)Allana Clarke, Other, GB says

      I’m not a mental health or diet professional, but I know how depressing extra weight can be, I also have mental health issues. I don’t know or if you exercise, I walk, gyms are not for me. Have you had health professionals help you with other issues? I always believe that the effect of weight on our mental health is ignored & our stress not appreciated. If you can talk to anyone, do. You’ve had a very hard time of it, cut yourself some slack & be kind to yourself. All the issues & you’re here for your kids, a great mum. I find if you don’t clump in all our issues together, they appear more manageable. You made it to this point, hang on to that bravery, you are wonderful & other people commenting on our bodies are just stupid & ignorant. Stay safe.

      Reply

    • Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (5)Erin Varey, Another Field, Saint Clair Shores, MI, USA says

      Oh. Nina, I’m not sure when this was posted, but you’re not alone. I am experiencing something very similar, and feel just like that. Depressed, overweight and, yes, I think about calling it quits a lot, but don’t because I have a daughter. It would destroy her if I did that, so I stay. I breathe in, I breathe out, repeat. I just sort of… exist. Never in my life have I struggled with my weight. I’ve always been really tiny.

      I don’t know how to cope, or what to do. Lately, I’ve just stopped eating. I’m afraid to eat anything, and I don’t feel well. I feel like I’m in someone else’s body. I’m alone. I’m alone a LOT, and have no real desire to be with anyone? I isolate, and the depression becomes debilitating. Then, because I’m not eating, my blood sugar is all out of whack, which just compounds everything.

      I’m miserable and confused, and have no idea how to begin to fix this. It’s difficult to find the motivation to change when things are so foggy. I sometimes feel like I’m watching life from behind glass smeared with Vaseline?

      I don’t know why I’m sharing this, other than to hopefully help you see that you’re not all by yourself out there. I really do know exactly what you’re feeling, and I’m so sorry that you’re hurting. I would not wish this on anyone.

      Reply

  4. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (6)Lee Richter says

    This is very interesting and valuable information. Thank you for sharing it!

    Reply

  5. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (7)Ginny Arcaute says

    I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one today..

    Reply

  6. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (8)World Economy says

    Hello There. I found your weblog using msn. That is an extremely smartly written article. I?ll be sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your helpful information. Thanks for the post. I?ll certainly return.

    Reply

  7. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (9)Shawna says

    It is about time someone starts to get into this more. I am tired of doctors, drugs and the excuse that they are not trained to see what is wrong so lets just mask it. I am tired of being fat, tired, stressed and depressed!

    Reply

  8. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (10)weight loss says

    […] Tired, Stressed, Fat and Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (New Video) | Ruth Buczynski, PhD […]

    Reply

  9. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (11)Colon super cleanse says

    Im no professional, but I think you just built the best point. You certainly know a great deal about what youre referring to, and I can seriously get behind that. Thanks for getting so upfront and so honest about the subject matter matter. I truly think like I possess a greater knowing now.

    Reply

  10. Tired, Stressed, Fat, Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (12)Richard Hill says

    As usual, Ruth is right there with great information that is extremely important for us to know. Bringing this information into our awareness is so important. Even though papers on HSD date back to the late 1990’s it takes a website like this to make it known today – a reliable and trustworthy disseminator of knowledge.
    Well done – again!
    Richard Hill
    Australia

    Reply

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