Tag Archives: Sleep Deprivation

DR. C’S JOURNAL: Stress & The Effects Of Cortisol

Cortisol (hydrocortisone, 17-OH-corticosterone) is produced by stress, and is a bad word these days. When I was a practicing allergist, Cortisol worked wonders with asthma, and as a salve helped my patients with eczema.

It functions in the body as a key part of the stress reaction, which preparers the animal body for “Fight or flight”.  Cortisone raises the blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar, and shuts down The immune system, which is not as necessary in times of emergency. It is this last function which helped my patients with asthma and eczema, which are diseases of excessive immune reactivity. You may have heard of the use of dexamethasone( A relative of cortisol ) in severe Covid, which is made worse by an excessive immune response.

Modern life is a pressure cooker, requiring continuous activity and deadlines. The blood Cortisone level, which is raised by stress, is helpful in the short term, but deleterious when persisting over the long term. The prolonged elevation of blood Pressure, blood sugar and heart rate, coupled with a decrease in bone and collagen formation can lead to all kinds of problems including weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis and mental decline.

Although  cortisol in the short term can enhance memory (think of flash – bulb memory), in the long run it decreases hippocampal function, impacting memory.

For these and other reasons, Modern Life makes it desirable to reduce stress and the accompanying elevation of cortisol . Our old friends, Proper sleep, diet and exercise are critical, and help activities such as laughter and yoga to reduce stress. The following reference will cover this in more detail.

—Dr. C.


I recently posted a discussion on osteoporosis that was based on a MNEMONIC, using the word itself as the basis of exploring the Risk factors Evidence that you have Osteoporosis is hidden, and are discovered by Dexascan, or when you suddenly have a major fracture.

DEPRESSION is common, but sneaks up on you. It may be a job to discover that you have it, to DIAGNOSE it, so that you can be treated. The diagnosis has about 10 markers that can be formulated into a mnemonic, so that you can remember what they are. My favorite is by Paul Blenkiron, writing in the BMJ:

These 10 symptoms are described in the 10th edition of “the international classification of Diseases. The problem with some mnemonics is to remember the mnemonic itself.

Not here. Interestingly, The 4 PILLARS OF HEALTH are each represented in this list. 3 of them are valid TREATMENTS for DEPRESSION, as you will see in the following articles. When I looked up intellectual stimulation as a treatment for Depression, all i found was electrical or magnetic deep brain stimulation.

I can’t help but believe that INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION itself would at least help ward off much Anxiety and Depression. SLEEP has an interesting relationship to depression. Lack of sleep can be a CAUSE of Depression.

Recently, deprivation of sleep has been used to TREAT episodes of severe depression. Obviously there is a lot we don’t know. Another puzzlement is the several week delay in the effect of SSRI medications. I acknowledge that throughout history many great intellects have manic-depression, which may be key to their productivity.

Depression itself is credited with deep understanding. The “black Dog” of depression is best avoided, however. A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE SHOULD HELP WARD OFF DEPRESSION.

–Dr. C.

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From Harvard Medical School (June 4, 2020):

“We took an unbiased approach and searched throughout the body for indicators of damage from sleep deprivation. We were surprised to find it was the gut that plays a key role in causing death,” said senior study author Dragana Rogulja, assistant professor of neurobiology in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS.

The first signs of insufficient sleep are universally familiar. There’s tiredness and fatigue, difficulty concentrating, perhaps irritability or even tired giggles. Far fewer people have experienced the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation, including disorientation, paranoia, and hallucinations.

Total, prolonged sleep deprivation, however, can be fatal. While it has been reported in humans only anecdotally, a widely cited study in rats conducted by Chicago-based researchers in 1989 showed that a total lack of sleep inevitably leads to death. Yet, despite decades of study, a central question has remained unsolved: Why do animals die when they don’t sleep?

Now, Harvard Medical School (HMS) neuroscientists have identified an unexpected, causal link between sleep deprivation and premature death.

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