How Do Hormones Affect Stress?
By Dr. Khanh Perrin

First things *first: What is stress?

Whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological, we all experience stress on a regular basis. Stress is de;ned by Oxford Languages as, “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”

Genes and things that happen to you early in life, even when in the womb can affect how you handle stressful situations. Overeating, smoking, drinking, and not exercising, which are often reactions to being under stress, can add to the negative health effects of stress.

Our genetic makeup and early childhood experiences can affect how we handle stressful events. Additionally, many lifestyle choices can contribute to stress: Binge eating/drinking, smoking, not getting regular exercise, not sleeping, etc. For many people, their job or ;nances are a major source of stress.

What is The Stress Response?

Allostasis is the process of how the body responds to stress, whether it is acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).

There’s a word for the process by which our bodies respond to stress, and that word is Allostasis. Perhaps the most well-known type of allostasis is what we refer to as “fight or flight” which is what happens when we feel threatened. During this response, our bodies release a few different hormones in order to elicit speci;c effects which would be helpful to us if we were truly in a life threatening situation.

For instance, we get a shot of cortisol and adrenaline (epinephrine) in high stress situations and what we’re meant to experience is heightened concentration, quick reaction times, and increased strength. Our heart rate also increases, as well as blood pressure, and our ability to recall information becomes sharper; all things that would help us survive a life or death scenario. After the moment passes, our levels return to normal and our bodies recover to a state of homeostasis.

Recurring or long-term stress can become a real problem, though. Consistently experiencing high levels of stress without adequate time to recover can cause issues with lasting effects to our wellness. Issues such as stomach pains, obesity, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, increased blood pressure, etc. All of these also happen to raise the possibility of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, or diabetes.

How Can Hormone Therapy Help With Stress?

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, speci;cally testosterone, has anti-inflammatory effects, which can help prevent unnecessary stress responses and help recovery afterwards. We also experience less physical and psychological stress when our hormones are optimized because our bodies have more communicators, more energy, and more strength to manage our mental and emotional states.

Our bodies are highly susceptible to feedback loops. By that I mean we often react to stress by indulging in habits or behaviors that ultimately lead to higher levels of stress, completing and perpetuating the loop. It’s important, regardless of whether or not you pursue hormone replacement therapy, to take note of our coping mechanisms. Some of the most impactful changes we can make take place in the gym, kitchen, and our habits.

So How Do I Get Started?

If you’re interested in HRT, be sure to ;nd a provider who only prescribes bioidentical hormones. Also make sure to find a provider who specializes in the treatment, not just dabbles;HRT is a balancing act which should be carefully planned and monitored to ensure healthy, long-lasting benefits.

Located in Beverly Hills, California, CraftCare is led by Dr. Perrin Khanh, M.D., an integrative Functional Medicine Physician who specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for men and women.