How I combat side effects of stress with Cushing’s disease

Changes in appetite and memory issues are among the difficulties I experience

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by Noura Costany |

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Because Cushing’s disease is characterized by excessive production of cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, stress is a huge, overwhelming part of my life. While medications have helped me tremendously, I still deal with the effects of that extra cortisol.

So in honor of International Stress Awareness Week, I decided to evaluate how this issue affects me and share how I overcome it.


For many people, including me, stress can cause changes in appetite. When I’m feeling stressed or my cortisol is high, I find myself going back and forth between being so hungry that I can’t possibly eat enough and so full that I can’t take a single bite of food. These extremes can be difficult to manage.

I try to keep a few favorite staples in my fridge for when I don’t want to eat. I always have chocolate chips and raspberries, premade smoothies, and arugula on hand, as well as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, ramen, and frozen mozzarella sticks. While I’d love to always choose the healthier options, sometimes I just need to eat something. And when in doubt, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos never let me down.

On days when I’m starving and can’t be satiated, I try to add nuts and seeds to my dishes. For example, I’ll add chia seeds and protein powder to pancakes so that they’re more filling. I’ll add quinoa to rice dishes and pine nuts to pasta sauces. It makes me feel more full and helps keep me from bingeing.

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How living with Cushing’s disease has affected my mental health


Stress can also affect my memory and ability to concentrate. To combat this issue, I’ve become the ultimate list maker.

On my fridge, I post my weekly to-do list, which includes all of my medical tasks. I also keep a whiteboard by my computer where I jot down things to remember, and a giant calendar above my desk shows everything I have on my schedule that month. I even keep a note on my phone with my daily to-do list.

The tasks I include may seem obvious, such as “work” or “eat breakfast,” but without these little reminders, I often forget important things.


Lastly, I want to mention burnout. Elevated stress can lead to this state, which can, in turn, result in feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and a loss of motivation. To prevent this, I have to take breaks and make time for myself.

I always find space to relax, sleep, and bathe, even when I’m busy, because these activities are important for my body and keep me relaxed. I also focus more on hobbies, such as knitting or painting, that calm me.

Stress can be debilitating, and those of us with Cushing’s disease know this firsthand. Take care of yourself this week — you deserve it.

How do you manage side effects of stress? Please share in the comments below. You can also follow my journey on TikTok and YouTube.

Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


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