Recent Blog Articles
Can flavonoids help fend off forgetfulness?
Can physical or cognitive activity prevent dementia?
Wondering how much your medical care will cost? New rules could help
Long-lasting healthy changes: Doable and worthwhile
The sore throat checklist: What parents need to know
A new treatment for obesity
Remember the flu? Yep, it's that time again
3 ways to build brain-boosting social connections
Grandparenting: Ready to move for family?
Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines if you’re breastfeeding?
How stress can cause overeating, from the Harvard Mental Health Letter
Stress, the hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” can lead people to gain weight. The February 2012 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter explains the truth behind “stress eating” — how stress increases appetite — and what people can do about it.
In the short term, stress triggers the brain to produce corticotropin-releasing hormone, which suppresses appetite. But if stress persists, the adrenal glands (located atop the kidneys) release the “stress” hormone cortisol, which increases appetite. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress doesn’t go away — or if a person’s stress response gets stuck in the “on” position — cortisol may stay elevated.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.