This article on Epainassist.com has been reviewed by a medical professional, as well as checked for facts, to assure the readers the best possible accuracy.

We follow a strict editorial policy and we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any level of plagiarism. Our articles are resourced from reputable online pages. This article may contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

The feedback link “Was this Article Helpful” on this page can be used to report content that is not accurate, up-to-date or questionable in any manner.

This article does not provide medical advice.


Can High Levels of Cortisol Cause Weight Gain?

Cortisol is referred to as a chief “stress hormone” as it is one among the key hormones that you release when you are under pressure of any kind and then your evolutionary-based “fight-or-flight-response” gets into action. There are many people who do not hold good views regarding cortisol as this disorder often leads to high blood pressure, weight gain or acne but the fact is there is actually more to the levels of cortisol than just being the stress response. Though cortisol is regarded as important for life for keeping you awake, motivated and responsive to the environment around you, yet high levels of cortisol turn dangerous and life-threatening.

Can High Levels of Cortisol Cause Weight Gain?

Can High Levels of Cortisol Cause Weight Gain?

High levels in cortisol cause weight gain in an indirect way. Cortisol rises during your tension-filled periods. This often turns your overeating into your habit. As increased hormonal levels help in causing higher insulin levels so, in this situation, your levels of blood sugar drops and this is the reason you crave for fatty and sugary foods. Instead of eating a banana or salad, you reach for cheese or cookies. Everyone has got a strong love for sugary and fatty foods and they turn out to be the culprits. Thus, the elevated levels of cortisol do result in weight gain and to people eating turns out to be one source of comfort that can lessen stress.

Effects of High Cortisol Levels

The levels of cortisol vary from person to person; but if it is relatively higher, it can lead to some health problems. The common symptoms of high cortisol levels are:

  • Weight gain especially around the belly, upper back, between the shoulders, and in the face.
  • Purple or pink stretch marks on the thighs, arms, and breasts.
  • Slow healing of insect bites, infections, and cuts.
  • Acne
  • Fragile skin which bruises easily.

With High Cortisol Levels Women Experience:

  • Irregular or missing menstrual periods
  • Thicker body as well as facial hair

With High Cortisol Levels Men Experience:

There Are Various Other Signs and Symptoms of High Cortisol Levels Like:

Treatment for High Cortisol Levels

Patients suffering from elevated levels of cortisol experience many problems, so it becomes important to treat this condition. A patient taking high doses of corticosteroids ought to lessen steroid use for lessening the levels of high cortisol. The patient shouldn’t discontinue taking corticosteroids at once but he should consult a physician for lessening his current doses. Slowly lessening the levels of cortisol will permit the patients’ adrenal glands to continue manufacturing sufficient levels of cortisol. Sometimes, surgery is also needed when the tumor is detected in the pituitary glands, adrenal glands or other parts that can secrete cortisol. For this reason, it becomes important to remove the tumor. Again, at times physicians advise for radiation therapy when they find it impossible to remove a pituitary tumor completely.


The diet industry is trying hard to promote dietary supplements that can lower the levels of cortisol besides improving weight loss. However, it still needs to be proved that these supplements do help really. The best method for lessening cortisol levels is exercise. It can lower the stress factors and can also burn calories for stimulating weight loss. Practices, like yoga, meditation, and other relaxation methods can keep the levels of cortisol checked.


  1. Mayo Clinic – Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Link
  2. Harvard Health Publishing – Understanding the stress response. Link
  3. Healthline – How Cortisol Affects Belly Fat (and How to Lower It).
  4. American Academy of Family Physicians – High Blood Cortisol Level.
  5. EndocrineWeb – Too Much Cortisol: How You Can Reduce Cortisol and Improve Your Health.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 25, 2023

Recent Posts

Related Posts