Declining Cognitive Function May be the Result of Chronic Stress

Adult attention and learning, according to common belief, tend to decline as we age. This means that we expect to forget things, to not learn as easily as we might once have, and generally speaking, have declining cognitive function. Society has determined this as the norm. Additionally, we have been led to believe that, with aging, we lose the ability to learn new skills or even retain and assimilate new information:

New Theory Explains Declining Cognitive Function

There is, however, a new theory that suggests that this information and belief system is outdated. It proposes that if adults continued learning the way we did as children, the term ‘aging’ would need to be redefined.

The theory proposes that declining cognitive function is dependent on the learning strategies and habits developed over a lifetime. Depending on these strategies and habits, our cognitive development is either encouraged or discouraged.

If, for example, adults had to embrace the learning principles of a child, i.e. using broader learning experiences that promote growth and development, they would notice an increase in cognitive health instead of the formerly expected decline. The broader learning experience would, according to this theory, encompass the following six factors.

These factors are endemic to an infant’s learning experience:

Learning that is open-minded and input-driven

You are encouraged to explore outside your particular comfort zone, learning new patterns and skills continuously.

Individualized scaffolding

You have access to teachers as well as mentors who guide you in your learning, e.g. a mother teaching her child how to draw but constantly increasing the difficulty level.

A growth mindset

Where you believe you can increase your abilities with a little effort.

A forgiving environment

Mistakes and failures are fine and deemed a part of the learning process.

A serious commitment to learning

Where you are committed to mastering new skills, persevering in your efforts even when experiencing setbacks.

Learning multiple skills simultaneously

Where you do not limit the learning of new skills to one at a time but embrace many at the same time

During infancy and young childhood, these factors work together, increasing your basic cognitive abilities such as your attention, working memory, and inhibition. The same factors may work during adulthood as well.

As we move towards adulthood, however, our learning changes focus and becomes more specialized in nature. This specialization, however, has negative results for our cognitive growth, as:

declining cognitive function and closed-mindedness

We become closed minded and focus on specific knowledge driven learning

This infers we stay within our comfort zone and stick to routines.

There is no scaffolding

We no longer have access to teachers or mentors that guide our learning process.

We find ourselves in an unforgiving environment

Failure has consequences, such as losing our job. It is not seen as a means of learning.

We develop a fixed mindset

We start to believe our abilities are talents we are born with rather than something we acquired and developed with our own efforts.

We are less committed to learning

We may start something new but drop it after a while due to ‘not having enough time’ or because ‘it is too difficult’.

We learn no more than one skill at a time

Whereas infants learn a range of skills simultaneously we tend to focus, as we age, on only learning one skill (if any) at a time.

The theory thus proposes that, when taking a look at our cognitive function from infancy to late adulthood, the decline in broad learning may play a role in the cognitive aging process. If, however, the factors described were to be implemented, aging adults would be able to expand their cognitive function way past the limits we currently take as the norm.

Specialized learning seems to take over from broad learning once we become career driven. Unfortunately, as a consequence, this is the point where cognitive aging begins. Once we have become accustomed to a work environment and become efficient in what we do with regards to our activities and work expectations, we seldom vary from the mold our work environment has set for us.

While there are benefits to this type of learning attitude, e.g. it may ensure a measure of efficiency and accuracy when responding to a number of situations we may have to deal with, there are also disadvantages. This may be in the form of having made an assumption about something and being put in a position where you need to change your point of view or way of thinking. You are not accustomed to this any longer and may find changing your mindset or way of thinking difficult to master. This is not the same as broad learning where things are constantly challenged.

However, it is not only the way we learn (or do not learn) that results in declining cognitive function. Our health, especially the symptoms experienced due to stress and its implications, may play a large role in this regard.

The Role of Stress in Declining Cognitive Function

declining cognitive function and your daily stressors

In a nutshell, the term ‘stress’ is used to describe the physiological, psychological, and environmental conditions that put so much pressure on a person that they feel they cannot adapt to it. Some of these conditions include a heavy or prolonged heavy workload, infectious diseases, intolerable conditions in your personal life, sleep deprivation, social pressure, and even constant loud noise. The stress you encounter may be short-lived, or it may be chronic in nature, i.e. continuous, without giving you any relief. Generally speaking, people may ultimately respond to stress in one of two ways: you may either rise to the occasion, conquer what is causing the stress (like your workload), or you may deliver sub-par work. Each person reacts differently.

Chronic, consistent stress, however, may cause a disruption in your body’s homeostasis, i.e. balance, and result in a number of stress-related symptoms such as irritability, declining cognitive function such as memory loss as an example, skin conditions, depression, hormonal imbalance, sleep problems such as insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, bowel movement problems, etc. The reason for this is because chronic stress causes an increase in cortisol production.

The Effect of Cortisol

Enhanced cortisol production is the result of stress. It is commonly known as the fight or flight hormone and is produced by the adrenal glands, as part of the body’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and is a byproduct of its NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response. This response is automatic, and you are not able to control it.

Adrenal Fatigue and the Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis


Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis

The signs and symptoms of endometriosis are experienced by many sufferers of Adrenal Fatigue. Is there a connection?

When the inner lining of the uterus, which is called the endometrium, becomes inflamed, this condition is called endometriosis. The most common cause is a hormone overload or imbalance, generally stemming from the hormone estrogen. Some common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include heavy periods, abdominal pain, pain during intercourse, bowel movements or exercise, and even infertility. About 20%–40% of infertile women are affected.

Normal uterine tissues thicken and break down during the menstrual cycle, which partially explains why some women will experience pain before their periods. Endometriosis also occurs when the uterine-lining tissue develops outside the uterus, which includes such areas as the exterior of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and intestines. As the excess misplaced tissue starts to engorge from the effects of circulating reproductive hormones, certain areas or organs of the body can feel pressure, resulting in pain before periods. Endometriosis can actually lead to cysts and scar tissue.

Endometriosis is conventionally dealt with in several ways. It may be relieved with pain medications, a variety of different hormone therapies, conservative surgery, or a hysterectomy. Although some of these traditional remedies might be useful, the exact cause of the condition must be fully understood because, although they have possible benefits, they may also pose great risk and harm.

Estrogen and Progesterone

To look at the signs and symptoms of endometriosis you need to look at estrogen production. Three main areas of the body are responsible for estrogen production: fat cells, ovaries and the adrenal glands; this is where the connection between endometriosis and Adrenal Fatigue occurs.

Estrogen can be high, either on an absolute basis, such as taking in external estrogen with an oral contraceptive, or it can also be high on a relative basis, usually in comparison with progesterone, the body’s natural opposing hormone to estrogen. This relative increase, when excessive, is also known as estrogen dominance (ED). With ED, laboratory estrogen levels can be normal, yet in an excessive estrogen state, because estrogen dominance may be related to a body that lacks the proper amount of progesterone, which functions specifically by offsetting or counterbalancing estrogen. If not enough progesterone is present, estrogen levels will naturally rise.

Most hormones and even compounds have opposing patterns that occur in the body. Calcium, for example, counteracts magnesium, sodium counteracts potassium, and copper opposes zinc. This process is how the body strikes a natural balance through different vital elements.

When suffering from both conditions, it can be hard to identify the signs and symptoms of endometriosis vs. those of Adrenal Fatigue.Estrogen and progesterone certainly fall into this same category and are part of the pattern. When the amount of estrogen is high relative to the amount of progesterone in a woman’s body, this inevitably leads to estrogen dominance, even if estrogen levels are normal. Progesterone is very important in the body, which is why having an insufficient amount can be damaging.

Estrogen dominance occurs quite often when a woman goes through menopause. During menopause, while both progesterone and estrogen levels start to decline, progesterone levels decline much more drastically, which results in a relatively higher level of estrogen compared with the amount of progesterone:

Cause of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a very common issue and directly related to estrogen levels. When progesterone and estrogen are both in balance, a woman will be healthy and generally feel good, but issues develop whenever an excess amount of estrogen is present.

Natural Progesterone Cream – Natural Way to Treat Hormonal Imbalance

Natural progesterone cream is gradually replacing the plant-based hormones. These are found to be more superior to the previous formulations. The term natural is used to refer to the source of the substance. Laboratory scientists produce them from the ovaries of humans and from animals. Progesterone cream is highly effective in balancing the hormones of women who suffer from hormonal imbalance such as in the case of menopause or endocrine malfunction. Because it is very affordable, women can enjoy the advancements in technology without the need for expensive and invasive treatment procedures.

What is Progesterone?

Progesterone is one of the two hormones produced by the ovaries. The adrenal glands also produce this in small amounts. This is a female hormone that helps regulate the monthly menstrual cycle. It works closely with estrogen to ensure the normal functions of the reproductive tract and the rest of the body. Progesterone work in maintaining the lining of the uterus protects the body against stress, metabolizes fats, aids the thyroid functions, normalizes blood clotting, protects women against breast and endometrial cancer, stimulates bone building and propagates the growth of the embryo. Because of the generalized functions, it can be extremely dangerous to take this hormone for granted. However, as women ages, progesterone secretion is reduced which leads to various health risks. To avoid this, you must find ways to balance the hormone. You can take it from external sources like the natural progesterone creams.

Progesterone Cream

What is the History of Natural Progesterone Creams?

The history of hormone therapy is long. The discovery of progesterone came in the 1930’s when scientists harvested the substance from the ovaries of pigs. Later, they used human placenta to isolate the substance. The two procedures were successful but they were only able to harvest a small amount of progesterone. The methods were also expensive and so, only a very few women were able to enjoy the natural progesterone cream.

In later years, biochemist Russel Marker produced progesterone using a Mexican Wild Yam. From then, more plant-based progesterone came in. Soya beans and other plants were used to make progesterone. This paved the way to more progesterone and cheaper products. However, the effectiveness was not commendable. The synthetic hormones were not as effective as the naturally produced progesterone.

Why Go for the Natural Progesterone Cream?

Previously, progesterone is taken orally. Although the oral formulation is still available up to these days, research has shown that the cream is better absorbed and utilized by the body. Oral progesterone has to endure the action of the liver and thus, the amount reaching the blood is at its lowest. With the natural progesterone creams, they reach the bloodstream after being absorbed in the skin. It is also considered by most clients as very convenient to use. It is helpful especially for women who hate the idea of taking pills on a regular basis. With the cream, you just have to apply it in different parts of the body like the arms, neck, legs and you get the hormones working. The hormone is fat soluble and thus, absorption is guaranteed. Other than the creams, skin patches are also available especially for those who do not like the greasy feel in the skin.

When do You Need Natural Progesterone Creams?

Natural progesterone cream is highly recommended among women in their menopausal years. Menopause is the period where the ovaries begin to shrink and ovulation stops. As a result, the amount of progesterone produced may no longer be enough to support the activities inside.

This is also taken by women who are taking estrogen therapy. Natural progesterone creams balance the action of estrogen and reduce the risk of breast and endometrial cancers and osteoporosis.

Aside from menopausal women, younger women also benefit from the treatment. It helps reduce the symptoms of hormonal imbalance like infertility, migraine, irregular menstrual periods and depression. Doctors prescribe the progesterone when there see irregularities in their monthly cycle.

Why is There a Need to Counteract the Action of Estrogen?

Normally, estrogen and progesterone balance the action of each other. But when menopause strikes, the level of progesterone goes down giving away for estrogen dominance. The estrogen comes in excess and the hormone creates an unhealthy environment. Estrogen is a potentially dangerous hormone causing the menopausal symptoms like weight gain, mood swings, irritability, breast tenderness, fatigue, depression, and cancer. Thus, it is important that natural progesterone creams should be used to balance the estrogen action.

What is the Recommended Dosage of Progesterone?

The required dose of natural progesterone creams depends on the status of hormone in your body. It is important that you work with your doctor to determine the correct amount you need per day. You may need to have blood tests to make an accurate prescription. Generally, pre-menopausal women need 15 to 24 mg per day used for 14 days until the menstruation occurs.

Where Do You Get the Creams?

The natural progesterone creams are available in different sites. You can get them from your doctor’s clinic, health shops, and drug stores. There are some that require a prescription while others are available as over-the-counter products. Some sites on the internet also offer the non-prescription types. But before you go to any of these, be sure that you go for highly reputable manufacturers to ensure that you use the high-quality natural progesterone creams.

Is the product safe?

Natural progesterone creams are safe to use. Because they are natural, you will not experience adverse reactions. However, it is still important that you use the cream as directed. Do not use more than what is required for the day. This is not only a waste of money but risky for your health as well. Although allergic reaction is rare, it may still occur especially if you have too sensitive skin. If you develop rashes or irritation, discontinue its use and consult your doctor about other natural progesterone creams.