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This post is a non-technical summary of why stress is a root cause for chronic health issues.  The reason why this is important is that if you have an issue caused by stress, you can look at this list and see which cause is most significant for you.


About 80% of my clients have a health breakdown after a stressful period.  I have thought about this question a lot and here is the elevator summary.

Since this is the case, an overactive nervous system makes up one of the five pillars that I see in chronic health conditions.

Read my post on CRH and my main stress post to understand the details more and for references.

An overactive nervous system:


1) Lowers immune function overall – making you more susceptible to infections and toxins.

2) Increases inflammation.  Your stress response increases your immune system in some ways that make it function well in the short term but is damaging in the long term. (For example, CRH causes increased Th1 dominance, TLR-4, Nf-kB, IL-1b, IL-6, TNF, MHC-II (HLA-DR) and ICAM-1.)

3) Disrupts your sleep.  This causes a bunch of downstream problems because sleep is critical to so many other functions. Stress decreases slow wave sleep.

4) Disrupts your circadian rhythm (which causes a bunch of downstream problems).

5) Causes excess glutamate and cell death (via CRH, Kynurenine).

6) Causes gut problems mainly via CRH.  This includes slower gut flow, and less blood flow to the gut, which will cause food sensitivities and inflammation from food. Also, CRH likely causes less cannabinoid activation in the gut. CRH causes local inflammation in the gut.  An overactive nervous system, over time, causes HCl production to decrease.  The result is food sensitivities and even more inflammation.

7) Decreases levels of good hormones and increases some bad ones, because they get shunted to cortisol, and because of circadian and sleep disruption.  Also, CRH will directly cause hormonal dysregulation.  The result is lower GnRH, LH, FSH, Pregnenolone, DHEA, Testosterone, Growth HormoneThyroid Hormones (T3, T4, TSH) and higher Prolactin and Estrogen

8) Causes less blood flow in certain regions like your gut and liver.  Less blood flow causes low oxygen and less nutrient delivery…Your blood gets shunted to your heart and muscles and your stomach, liver, etc… don’t have what it needs.

9) Causes neurotransmitters to become less sensitive and imbalanced. Stress will cause neurotransmitter resistance (Glutamate, Serotonin, GABA), and lower dopamine and acetylcholine.

In the short term you might feel dizzy or fuzzy, likely because of less blood flow to the brain and too much dopamine (See COMT gene).

Chronic stress will also cause neurotransmitter resistance, inflammation, impaired memory and lower dopamine, acetylcholine, LTP, BDNF, neurogenesis and dendritic branching. Stress will also cause oxidative stress in your hippocampus or memory center via CRH.

Other negative effects:

  • Cortisol Resistance
  • Obesity – raises blood sugar, insulin, makes you hungry
  • Depression – as a result of CRH, chronic HPA activation, dynorphin, lower BDNF, lower neurogenesis, lower dopamine, and GABA, serotonin and glutamate resistance.
  • Heart damage – by increased adrenaline, oxygen demand on the body, spasm of the heart blood vessels, and electrical instability in the heart.  It also lowers heart rate variability and resting heart rate and increasing blood pressure

Take the Plunge

The reason why I release posts about my attitude towards life is that it’s the only one that works. If you adopt mainstream self-help attitudes of being limitless and positive thinking/self-talk, you are destined to continue a life of anxiety.

You must take the plunge and simply stop caring about everything, and let fate take over. People are afraid to do this, as was I, but once you let go, you’re free and then you can truly unleash the creativity that you are naturally capable of.  Remember, there’s nowhere to go, nothing to do or accomplish.  You’re it.

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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  • Heidi rego

    Hi, Joseph. I wish that we only had someone like you in our area. I envy your knowledge. Please tell me you can tell me what’s going on. I had went too seek help two years ago, and I tried all types of meds, SSRIs and antipsychotics, they think bipolar1 and anxiety. So the last med I was on was risperidol, and it worked for a while, and now it does not work at all, so I got off in June of 2015 and in September it completely altered me. I had suicidal thoughts which I never had, and then I would pace back and fourth, like I have akathesia, so I got so dissfunctional, I had too admit myself into the hospital, what a nightmare. They put me on seraqual, wellbutrin, and clonazapam.worked for a little while then boom back to the beginning. It seems like meds only work for three months and then that’s it. And what use too work before will no longer work now it scares me like benadryl, easy over the counter meds, when before they would. Now I only take seraqual and clonazapam if I didn’t take these I wouldn’t sleep for days, and all the fear, and everything would come down on me all at once. I blame myself for getting help, because I feel if I never did this wouldn’t of happened. I feel all this is permanat, and I will never be myself again. It feels like none of this will go away, and some drs just want to keep pushing meds instead of finding the problem. Please help me.

  • seb

    I couldn´t agree more! Trusting your gut more then the thinking mind. The gut is a so much better pointer to live ones life then the thinking narritvve mind who think its knows it al…. 😉

  • Anonymous

    This seems like the natural anxiety free mindset for humans. I base this on the fact that I have severe anxiety which started after I wouldn’t let go of anything that changed. And if I’m on a big dose of Valium or phenibut my mindset instantly turns into one that accepts everything as that’s how it’s supposed to be and I let go and get the things I want to done. And I’m just really at peace with how my life is at the moment and I don’t judge people.

    Overriding the anxiety with letting go when “sober” is hard though. My severe anxiety started after MDMA and never left, never had it before that. I was always shy but after MDMA I would be terrified of dying from any cause 24/7 and I didn’t leave my house for 3 months.

  • Damon

    Beautiful conclusion

    1. Elizma

      Agree 🙂

  • lordilol is dead(?)

    the problem with take the plunge is that it will take one source(or even one type of this one source)
    of stress while leave others untouched and the second one,
    is that some people like me are fucked and produce naturally more stress response then others to the same shit.
    and the third problem is that you cant let go of everything.
    in the end you are a human with desires and assumptions about the world that is only a matter of time that they will get conflicted with reality. you cant let some of them go because you arent even aware of them, you will be somewhat informed when the conflict hits in the face and depends how correctly you interpret this shit, will determine your ability to let go of this crap. and some wont, if you wana eat and cant find food, you will be stressed.

    now i will say letting go works but you should be aware when it doesnt. i will say distracting one self works, because you let the thing go, but in this you replace it with something more joyfull, chewing a gum, and playing phone games in a social setting , works quite well for me, while at the same time responding to the chit chat. besides i am somewhat disappointed in society and humans(including myself).

    1. Dave

      I think the point is here that as long as your happiness is dependent on the external environment, you will never experience lasting fulfillment or purposeful life. Happiness or being stress free is ultimately a conscious choice. So it’s easy to let go- just let go- at every moment. If this is difficult at any given point then it’s a sure sign that you are living through your ego- your belief that the world around you SHOULD be a particular way that isn’t the way you currently perceive it. How you are and how you the people or the world around you are the way it should be- because the universe IS that way. Do you perceive the people (who you are disappointed in) through the lense of judgement OR love in that people are the way they are that best serves their consciousness at the present time. If you judge events, yourself, or others as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ then you are living in the duality of the ego. Living in ego consciousness always results in suffering and stress.

      Great post, Joseph.

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