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How are you really doing? – News from Dr. Sibthorpe

According to my recent questionnaire-based survey, the most common symptoms my patients are currently experiencing are:

  • Anxiety: 64%
  • Sleep disorders: 58.8%
  • Weight Gain: 58%

Chronic or long-term stress poses a problem. If your body faces challenges both frequently and over a long period of time, you are constantly producing higher levels of stress hormones and your body does not have time to recover. These stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline can cause serious health problems.

This chronic stress scenario of Covid-19 and the pandemic, producing feelings of uncertainty, fear and hopelessness with prolonged periods of isolation, most certainly contribute to a new form of stress that is affecting a lot more people on a global scale. Particular individuals may be more susceptible including those that already have an imbalance of hormones or those with certain weakened immune systems or disease. And stress can cause many health problems, such as:

  • Increase in appetite, which can lead to weight gain.
  • Anxiety & depression,
  • Loss of sleep and lack of interest in physical activity.

These 3 areas in particular scored high in a small survey carried out on my patients, some who are on Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy.

There are several theories which state that elevated levels of cortisol caused by stress “steals” more of the precursor hormone, pregnenolone, which is used to produce steroid hormones such as progesterone, testosterone & oestrogen. There is no doubt that a stressed state leads to a hormone imbalance.

By contrast, oxytocin, or the love hormone, can induce anti-stress-like effects such as reduction of blood pressure and cortisol levels. It exerts an anxiolytic-like effect and stimulates various types of positive social interaction. And one thing we all suffered to a degree was social isolation as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns from time to time. In addition, oxytocin promotes growth and healing.

It is also known that the Covid-19 virus sticks to ACE-2 receptors and affects most of the endocrine glands.

So, whilst the specific mechanisms may not be known at this stage, there appears to be an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that Covid-19 causes hormonal imbalance.

What can you do to reduce stress:

  • Regular, moderate exercise improves thought process and mood.
  • Relaxing, getting a good night’s sleep, and seeking emotional support from family and friends.
  • Eating a healthy, low-fat diet and avoiding smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

And all of the above will improve your immune system and make you more resistant to viral infections.

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