Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Can Stress Cause Liver Enzymes to be High?

Cortisol is considered by the scientific community as the stress hormone, our body produces it under stress situations to help us cope with them. The release of this hormone is controlled by the hypothalamus, in response to stress. The correlation between stress and the elevation of liver enzymes has not been found since there are certain conditions for this to occur.

Stress is a process that originates when environmental demands exceed the adaptive capacity of a human being. This can lead to biological and psychological changes, which in turn can cause disease.

In this definition, three fundamental elements stand out:

  • The demands of environmental situations, which would be the stressors.
  • The person who is affected by such situations and who considers them to be harmful or challenging, and, therefore, that exceed him.
  • The individual's responses to stress, both emotional and biological.

The causes that induce stress are not always negative, that is, derived from situations of danger, painful or harmful. There are also situations that we usually live, even situations that are part of the routine, which can cause stress without necessarily being dangerous. Examples of this are the daily traffic jams we suffer, the loud music or the screaming weekends under our house.

Thus, depending on the environmental situations that arise, the individual will have to face them and depending on the mechanisms put in place, will adapt or not.

The adaptation to stress is the body's response, both physiological and emotional, to try to mitigate the effects of stress, and involves changes in the individual.

In the processes of adaptation to stress, we speak of the general adaptation syndrome, which covers three phases:

Alarm phase: General warning phase, in which changes appear to counteract the demands generated by the stressor (increase in heart rate, temperature variations, changes in tension, etc).

Adaptation phase: The symptoms disappear, since the organism is adapting to the effects of the stressor through a series of reaction mechanisms that allow it to cope with it.

Exhaustion phase: The defenses diminish, because the stressing agent, while remaining in time, has overcome the mechanisms of reaction of the organism, giving rise to symptoms similar to those of the alarm phase.

The Individual's Responses to Stress

The different responses that the individual can have to stress can be grouped into two fields: psychological and biological.

The psychological responses to stress include three factors: emotional, cognitive and behavioral, which do not appear in the individual in isolation, but interrelated, they are all part of the individual and the environment that surrounds him, and can alter his health.

In the emotional aspect, the loss of physical or psychic energy stand out, but also low mood, apathy, pessimism, fear of suffering diseases, loss of self-esteem, emotional volubility: transform easily from joy to sadness, instability, restlessness, and tension.

Regarding the cognitive aspect are the inability to make decisions, mental block, vulnerability to criticism, confusion, is easily distracted and absentminded, smoking and drinking more than usual, nervous laughter, hair pulling nervously/biting nails, abusing drugs (tranquilizers), exaggerated physical activity and eating disorders.

In the biological responses, the physiological mechanisms of the organism are set in motion, and try to synchronize with each other to defend against aggression. Central and peripheral nervous system and the endocrine system intervene, which increases the secretion of hormones, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline or cortisol.

On the other hand, there are systems that can be affected in situations of stress, reducing their activity, as is the case of the immune system.

Other factors that may influence the biological response of the individual to stress are age, sex, race, etc. Therefore, in the presence of the same stressor, the physiological responses will vary according to the characteristics of each individual.

Stress hormones are harmful to the brain, because high levels of cortisol can cause damage to the hippocampus, which plays a decisive role in memory, especially the one that affects the memory of recent activities. However, under appropriate conditions (emergency situations), the changes provoked by stress are convenient, because they prepare us adequately for respond timely and put our lives safe.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: June 7, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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