What is the HPA axis?
The HPA axis stands for the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
It’s the terminology used for the three areas of the body (hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal), that triggers the stress response.
When we face a stressor in our environment…..
– The part of the brain called the hypothalamus is activated.
– This then communicates with another part of the brain called the pituitary gland.
– The pituitary gland will communicate with the adrenal glands, above the kidneys, to release cortisol – the stress hormone.
– The body is now officially in stress mode.
– When the adrenal glands release cortisol, this signals the hypothalamus to stop communicating with the pituitary gland that tells the adrenals to stop releasing cortisol. This is the loop that brings the body out of stress mode.
With the constant stress we face today, the HPA axis is turning on and off all the time. Sometimes, it will turn on and not turn off.
When this happens, the axis becomes dysregulated, meaning the communication between all three areas is not working as it should. This leads to poor mental wellbeing.