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    The Stress Response Gone Wrong

      |  Dec 18, 2023

    Good news: your body is smarter than you likely give it credit for. When we feel our best, like after a workout or spending time with people we love, this seems like a given. In these moments, our body (and brain) feels like something to be thankful for, and it’s easy to forget about those times when we feel less than one hundred percent. 

    Even during those moments — when you’re sick, stressed, or even injured — your body is doing its best. That fever? It’s your body trying to fight off infection. That pain in your ankle? That’s your body's warning you to change up the way you move. But as much as our body works for us, its natural responses can and do go wrong. Enter, the stress response.

    What is a normal stress response?

    Stress is a natural response to the dangers and challenges of everyday life. During stress, the brain signals to the kidneys to release two key hormones — cortisol and adrenaline — that heighten your body’s senses in order to survive the stress. This is sometimes referred to as “fight or flight.”

    Adrenaline gives you an added boost of energy. It’s that heart racing, can’t eat, can’t sleep feeling that, in early human evolution, would be helpful for escaping a predator, and now might appear when you need to answer a tricky email from your boss. Cortisol puts your body’s systems in hyperfocus mode. It tells your digestive, reproductive, metabolic, and circadian systems to take a back seat so you can direct the body’s energy to staying alive. 

    When faced with acute stress, these hormones can be a powerful tool to motivate and inspire us. And when the stress has passed, your body typically returns to a normal state, taking some time to recover, but eventually bringing you back to a state of homeostasis. 

    How does the stress response “go wrong”?

    Remember that predator from earlier? Imagine that instead of fighting or fleeing from that predator once a month, your early human ancestor lived surrounded by predators, and had to keep an eye out for danger at every turn. In today’s Western world, that’s an unlikely scenario, but many of us still face long term stressors, like a serious illness, economic uncertainty, and tough personal relationships. Situations like these make it difficult for the body to reach the recovery stage of the stress response, causing your body to be exposed to high levels of adrenaline and cortisol long after they’re helpful. 

    Long term exposure to the energy increasing effects of adrenaline put your body in energy overload, while cortisol deprioritizes those important bodily functions indefinitely. When faced with chronic stress, you might experience symptoms like anxiety, poor digestion, high blood pressure, headaches, and a weakened immune system. Your body thinks it's doing the right thing, but it’s causing long term damage in the process. People with chronic stress are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

    Navigating chronic stress

    While it’s not possible to eliminate stressful situations completely in our lives, it is possible to fight off symptoms of chronic stress and help your body get into a recovery period faster and easier. If you’re experiencing symptoms of chronic stress and finding that the usual remedies (things like exercise, a balanced diet, and meditation) aren’t relieving your symptoms, it might be time to seek additional support. Here are a few clinically created ways to treat chronic stress:


    High levels of cortisol can disrupt your sleep, cause weight gain, change your menstrual cycle, and even reduce mental clarity. Even if you don’t feel the mental effects of stress, like anxiety or depression, it’s possible to have high cortisol levels. The supplement Phytisone uses ashwagandha, a botanical popular in Eastern medicine, to reduce cortisol levels. In studies, patients who took ashwagandha over the course of 1-3 months lowered their cortisol levels by 11-30%.

    IV drip therapy

    IV drip therapy delivers nutrients to your body through the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system for faster and more effective results. Modern Age’s IV Drip Therapy for Stress combines vitamin C and glutathione to reduce the negative impacts of chronic stress, providing your body with a boost of energy and anti-inflammatories. 

    The Aging Wellness Assessment

    The negative effects of chronic stress can also become more prevalent with age. Our Aging Wellness Assessment uses a blood, cognitive, and metabolic test to create a holistic picture of your health as you age, and identify the root causes behind every day symptoms. Working 1:1 with a licensed clinician, you’ll create a plan that’s customized to your unique health needs with the goal of making life better and easier as you age.