Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone and is released in a natural diurnal circadian pattern under ideal circumstances. However, as we face many different daily stressors additional cortisol release is provoked. Repeated activation of this “fight or flight” response can lead to HPA axis disruption and dysregulation.
In addition to cortisol’s circadian rhythm, there is a separate and distinct transient increase in cortisol triggered merely by the act of waking in the morning. This is called the “Cortisol Awakening Response” or CAR. This response offers additional insight into the resiliency of the HPA axis and has distinct health implications. Assessing cortisol using both CAR and the diurnal rhythm helps to identify abnormalities and allows clinicians to address root causes.
• Review of the HPA axis
• Define what CAR is and how it is related to HPA axis
• Use case review to discuss what to do with an altered CAR