Article: Manage Stress, Boost Happiness: The Hormone Dance!

Publié le 11/06/2024

By Marc Dellière

Understanding how stress and wellness hormones work enables us to develop effective strategies for managing stress and promoting optimal wellbeing.

Stress is a complex biological response involving several body systems, including the brain and endocrine glands. Among the brain hormones involved in the stress response, cortisol plays a central role. 


Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, often referred to as the stress hormone due to its crucial role in the stress response.

It is released in response to stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This axis involves a series of hormonal signals between the brain and the adrenal glands.

When a stressful situation is perceived, the amygdala, a key brain structure for processing emotions, sends a signal to the hypothalamus, located at the base of the brain. The hypothalamus releases corticotropin (CRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland, also located at the base of the brain, to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH then prompts the adrenal glands to release cortisol.

Cortisol regulates metabolism, helps control blood sugar, reduces inflammation, and influences memory and mood. It raises blood glucose levels by stimulating gluconeogenesis in the liver, suppresses the inflammatory response to avoid overreaction, and influences cognitive functions such as attention, memory and decision-making.

Prolonged stress can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to overproduction of cortisol, thus increasing the risk of metabolic, cardiovascular and immune disorders. Chronically elevated cortisol can have detrimental effects on the brain, particularly the hippocampus, a key region for memory and learning located in the temporal lobe. This can lead to impaired memory and cognition. It can also affect serotonin and dopamine levels, contributing to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.


In addition to cortisol, other brain hormones and neurotransmitters play a role in the stress response.

Adrenalin, produced by the adrenal glands and certain neurons in the brain, prepares the body for a rapid response to stress by increasing heart rate, blood pressure and energy intake.

Noradrenalin, produced by the locus coeruleus in the brain stem, is similar to adrenalin and plays a crucial role in attention and response to stressful situations by increasing alertness.

Serotonin, produced mainly in the raphe nuclei of the brain stem, regulates mood, anxiety and sleep, but chronic stress can lower its levels, contributing to anxiety and depression. Serotonin, in addition to regulating mood, is often called the happiness hormone, and can be increased by exposure to sunlight, a diet rich in tryptophan, and physical exercise.

Dopamine, produced in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area, is associated with pleasure, reward and motivation, but can be disrupted by stress, affecting motivation and pleasure. Dopamine, which plays an important role in motivation and reward, can be stimulated by creative activities, goal achievement and a protein-rich diet.

Oxytocin, produced by the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland, is often called the love hormone, and is linked to feelings of trust, social connection and stress reduction. It can be enhanced by positive social interactions, hugs, and activities such as yoga and meditation.

Endorphins, produced by the pituitary gland and central nervous system, act as natural painkillers and can induce feelings of pleasure and well-being.


To manage stress and maintain a healthy hormonal balance, several strategies can be put in place. 

Physical exercise helps to reduce cortisol levels and increase endorphins, the feel-good hormones.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation, self-hypnosis, yoga and deep breathing exercises can reduce stress and regulate the HPA axis. 

A balanced diet, rich in essential nutrients, supports neurotransmitter and hormone production. 

Sufficient sleep helps regulate cortisol levels and restore brain function. 

Positive social interactions increase oxytocin, reducing stress and improving overall well-being. 

Learn more about Lactium for stress management!



✍️ Psychosocial Stress and Biomarkers

✍️ Emotional Harmony: Cortisol Tides, Hormonal Fluctuations and Neurotransmitters in Perspective 

✍️ The Secrets of Stress Hormones

✍️ Stress, Hormones and our Restless Nights


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