You’ve probably heard it over and over: Stress can make your thyroid disease worse. But how do you know if your stress is high enough to be problematic for your health? It’s helpful to know some signs and about the adrenal stress test.
Severe stress can either cause you to be fatigued all the time, wired all the time, or a mix of both. Or maybe stress manifests as sleep issues.
It’s not uncommon for people to become so used to being stressed out they fail to realize it’s an issue. They have forgotten how not to feel stressed out.
However, chronic stress sabotages your efforts to manage hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of fatigue-based stress:
- Slow to get going in the morning
- Energy crash in the afternoon
- Craving sweets, caffeine, or nicotine
- Unstable behavior; moodiness
- Shaky, light-headed, or irritable if meals are delayed
- Inability to stay asleep
- Dizziness when moving from sitting to standing
Symptoms of wired stress:
- Excess belly fat
- Insulin resistance (high blood sugar)
- Not feeling rested in the morning
- Women grow facial hair; men grow breasts
- PCOS in women (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
How to do a lab test for stress
You can do an adrenal stress test to measure how well your body deals with stress using your saliva; it’s also called an adrenal salivary panel. Your adrenal glands are two small glands that sit atop each kidney that secrete stress hormones.
To get the most from the adrenal stress test, do the test a second time after following a health protocol for four to six weeks. This shows you whether you’re on the right track with your healing approach.
This is because stress in the body is always caused by more than just the stress that we perceive, for example low or high blood sugar, an infection, or autoimmune disease.
Adrenal health should improve as you manage these conditions. If things do not improve, it means you must keep searching to find out what is taxing the body.
Simply unmanaged, hypothyroidism can raise stress levels. However, if you are working to manage your thyroid condition and still suffering from chronic stress, you may need to seek out the underlying cause.
Measuring your sleep-wake cycle
Another way to gauge stress with the adrenal stress test is to look at your sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.
Are you alert in the morning and sleepy at night? An abnormal circadian rhythm is one symptom of adrenal stress.
Your primary stress hormone, cortisol, should be high in the morning and low at night on an adrenal stress test. Many people have a backwards rhythm causing fatigue in the morning and insomnia at night. Or, instead of a gradual decline of cortisol during the day, it may drop in the afternoon, causing an energy crash.
A healthy circadian rhythm is important to managing your health and should be addressed.
Where are you on the adrenal stress test scale?
By measuring several markers, the adrenal stress test can tell you whether you are in:
- The “alarm reaction” of high adrenal hormones
- Adrenal exhaustion and chronic tiredness
- Somewhere in between
You do not necessarily have to progress from alarm reaction to adrenal fatigue. It’s possible to jump between phases, or stay in one phase for years.
The adrenal stress test also measures immune cells called total SIgA. This is a measure of how stress has impacted your immune system over time. If SIgA is low, it can mean you are more susceptible to food intolerances, infections, and weakened immunity.
If you have unmanaged thyroid disease you may have low SIgA levels.
Start with blood sugar stability to manage stress and symptoms
One of the most common causes of chronic stress is a blood sugar imbalance Addressing high or low blood sugar are vital to addressing not only chronic stress but also thyroid or hormone imbalances.
Various herbal and nutritional compounds, such as adrenal adaptogens, can profoundly influence adrenal function. Ask my office about the adrenal stress test and how you can support your adrenal health to help manage your condition.