High Cortisol Symptoms: Indications of Adrenal Gland Problems

High Cortisol SymptomsPeople can get stressed out from a lot of things in their lives, such as relationships, jobs, family, or school. It can take a toll on your body, and your body will respond by raising your cortisol levels. Your cortisol levels are your body’s direct response to stress. In fact, cortisol is what takes your body and puts it into fight or flight mode when you’re in an extreme situation.

The idea of stress actually having a negative effect on your body, more so than it usually does is hard to believe, but there are seriously symptoms that come with high cortisol, and it can lead to pain, sickness, and in the most extreme cases even death. If you think you’re incredibly stressed out, you should try to take some time and relax for a moment. The Meditation for Stress course on Udemy can give you great techniques to help you cool down after a long and tiresome day.

What is Cortisol? 

A steroid hormone that’s produced in the adrenal glands, cortisol is our body’s response to the stress that we face, whether that stress comes occasionally or daily. It’s responsible for starting our body’s fight or flight response in certain situations, but when your body is under chronic stress then your cortisol levels are heightened and it remains that way for an extended period of time. Cortisol isn’t just for stress though; this is a vital part of life and the hormone regulates your blood pressure, immune system, and keeps you at normal blood sugar levels.

There are several symptoms that go along with having high cortisol levels, and they can result in your body essentially breaking down from the inside. You may start to sleep less, but that is only the beginning, there is then the sudden need to eat more, and want more sugary foods, you will start to experience irritable bowel syndrome and have ulcers, your sex drive will decrease, and in some of the most extreme cases of chronic stress, you can get cardiovascular vascular disease due to your heart working faster and harder since your body is in fight or flight response mode.

Identifying the Symptoms of High Cortisol 

The level of cortisol in your body starts off high at the start of your day and then it gradually decreases as the day ends. That decrease is what allows you to sleep at night, but when you’re stressed out that isn’t the case. Most times the symptoms for high cortisol don’t occur instantaneously, but will come about gradually over time.

For many people it’s difficult to tell if they have high cortisol or if they are afflicted with another syndrome. Symptoms such as obesity, although they can be a direct result of high cortisol, can also be a result of other ailments or lifestyle choices as well. The same can be said about high blood pressure. Although it is possible for someone to experience these symptoms with a high cortisol level it is usually attributed to something more common, such as poor diet or exercise.

Of all the symptoms that come with high cortisol there is only a few that are said to be truly indicative of it. These symptoms include, muscle weakness, bruising easily, and, for children, remaining relatively short for your age while also gaining weight.

Despite it being difficult to identify the symptoms of high cortisol that doesn’t make it any less serious, and if it isn’t taken care of quickly your body can experience a lot of pain.

Remember that there are proven ways to handle stress, and people have been discovering new ways to handle being in a stressful period in their life for years. Check out the Udemy course Stress Reduction & Wellness to learn about ways you can deal with the stressful situations going on in your life.


High cortisol afflicts people with a lot of symptoms, but one of the most prominent is obesity. Like most of the symptoms that high cortisol have, this one comes on gradually and you may even be unaware of your rapid weight gain. This is made even worse by the additional symptom that high cortisol has, which raises your blood sugar levels.

Having a good healthy diet and exercising is a good way to not only keep the weight down, but deal with stress. A proper workout actually makes you feel better, and the same thing can be said about healthy foods. Try a new and natural food, like kale, to help improve the performance of your body and cut down on stress.


Another symptom that goes unnoticed for those with high cortisol is insomnia. You may have found yourself in a situation where you had to get a lot work done, and in the middle of the night you suddenly found yourself full of energy despite not sleeping at all. This is your body’s response to stress and although you may finish that project, you are also putting it in danger.

As you are put through more and more stress, your body will produce higher levels of cortisol. Your body reduces these levels of cortisol at night, which allows you to sleep, but the moment you’re put in that stressful situation that puts your body in fight or flight mode, sleeping will become impossible or very difficult until you’re completely exhausted.

If you have trouble sleeping, whether through high cortisol or some other cause of insomnia, check out Master Your Sleep, a course from Udemy that teaches you all about how to try to get a good night’s rest.

Low Sex Drive

Many people think when they’re stressed out that they’re just having an off day, but high cortisol levels can have a horribly negative effect on your sex drive, whether you’re a man or a woman. For men the higher levels of cortisol mean that your body blocks the normal response that your testicles would have to testosterone. This impedes on your ability to get sexually aroused.

For women high levels of cortisol cause a hormonal imbalance, which can lower the libido and cause the woman to experience irregularity during her menstrual cycle.

Lower Immune System

People with high cortisol levels can actually make themselves sick. The immune system is very sensitive to your cortisol levels, and when they’re raised your body is unable to regulate the immune system in the same way that it normally would. This makes it less likely for you to get sick and be exposed by a disease. Colds are one of the most common things you can catch while in this state, but there is the unfortunate chance of you getting something much worse.

Adrenal Fatigue

As unbelievable as it may seem, you can experience serious illness if your stress levels are not kept in tow. Adrenal fatigue can occur if your cortisol levels constantly increases each day due to heightened levels of stress. Eventually your adrenal glands will not be able to handle the work and the hormones required to make cortisol will be completed used up. Your body will then go into adrenal fatigue.

It’s never too late to deal with your stress though. If you want to remove it completely and keep these symptoms from appearing or stop them from continuing check out this course on Stress Management from Udemy. This course doesn’t just deal with symptoms, but helps you find the cause of your stress.