Young Boy Producing Excess Cortisol

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jourdain2 | 18:53 Tue 19th Jun 2018 | Health & Fitness
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Does anyone know what can be done to cope with this situation, please? I've researched it and now know that my grandson's furious attacks can be assigned to this condition. He is very nearly 9 - he tried to strangle his mother the other week and was admitted to a mental unit - I only just managed to stop him maiming (or possibly killing) his little sister some time ago. At least we now know what is wrong and that he is not a nutcase and the body will eventually balance - but we have to keep him and others safe whilst trying to give him a normal life.

I'm hoping that medics can sort this out - but it is living a nightmare. No-one is saying anything at the moment. Any ideas welcome, please. Thanks.


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The Endocrinology Team will be able to advise you further.

Cortisol is sometimes referred to as the stress hormone and is possibly linked to an inability to lose weight.

Levels usually peak at around 9am.
How did the doctors even think to diagnose that one. It depends on what system is causing it, pituitary tumours and adrenal tumours are two causes, but sometimes it is just the adrenal glands are overactive. Treatment options range from surgery to medication to mop up the excess cortisol. If a tumour is involved radio or chemotherapy are options. I would expect highly targeted radiotherapy like cyber knife would be an option too.
It maybe he will grow to match his production levels
maybe some value in this, jourdain....

I feel for you.....fingers crossed.
A mental unit ? Do you mean a psychiatric unit for children? Is your grandson still in hospital?
Well, rowanwich has said all the right things, but in a child of 8 years?...........I wouldn't think so.

How do you know that his symptoms are due to excess Cortisol?

Odd scenario.
Question Author
Sqad - that is what we have been told. He was admitted (with his mum) to the Leeds Children's Health Mental Care Unit - may not have got the name right, but it has been a horrible time -on the first weekend of the half-term holiday. Discharged 3 days later. At least we have been told that there is a physical/behavioural cause. Google tells me about benign tumours etc. but now in limbo as to how to move on.

It has all calmed down at the moment - but I am so very worried about granddaughter who, of course, worships and annoys her big brother. We're not getting a lot of practical advice and information and appointments go so very slowly.....

Jourdan...if the medical people say that this is a physical origin for his symptoms, then they will have to investigate it to support their assumption.
I know no physical conditions in a child of 8 years old that can cause these symptoms, but one should never say never in medicine.
For what it is worth, it sounds psychiatric to me, but i am not an expert.
Question Author
Thanks, sqad. You know more than I. I am hanging onto the threads I get. I do know, from experience, about the horrible effects that can happen when testosterone floods in at the wrong time, so I am hoping that this is similar. (My nephew turned violent aged 13 - but we managed to direct him, cope and sort him out- he is a gentle man now.)
If it is psychiatric - well then, OK, but we seem to be getting nowhere at the moment.

NoMercy - he has put on weight lately.

Thank you all for your input - it has been a particularly foul few weeks. I'll plug away. :) x

This is from the Cushings support network, they might be worth contacting for support as it is rare in children
Question Author
Thank you rowanwitch.
I think hormones, particularly steroid hormones like Cortisol, play a far greater role in our behaviour, moods and physical well being than modern medicine and its practitioners give them credit for.

Over-production of one hormone can lead to hormone imbalance or dominance, which can lead to all manner of problems, in my [actual] experience.

I suspect Sqad will disagree with all of the above.

We have no credible evidence that Cortisol is raised and nothing whatsoever to suggest that his extreme psychiatric symptoms are any thing to do with his endocrinology.....particularly in a child of 8 years.
To suggest that this is due to pituitary or adrenal tumours is verging on ( not completely)...sheer fantasy.
Cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, seems to behave in contradictory ways in children. Some youngsters with behavioral problems have abnormally high levels of cortisol, while others with identical problems have abnormally low levels. What's going on?

Researchers at Concordia University and the Centre for Research in Human Development may have resolved the cortisol paradox. In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, they link cortisol levels not simply to behavior problems, but to the length of time individuals have experienced behavior problems.

"We studied the relationship between cortisol levels in young people with problematic behaviour such as aggression or depression, and the length of time since the onset of these behaviours," explains Paula Ruttle, lead author and PhD candidate at Concordia's Department of Psychology. "Cortisol levels were abnormally high around the time problem behaviours began, but abnormally low when they had been present for a long time."

To obtain subjects' cortisol levels, researchers analyzed saliva samples taken from 96 young people during early adolescence. They then matched cortisol levels to behavioral assessments taken in childhood and again during adolescence. Problem behaviours were classified as either "internalizing" (depression and anxiety) or "externalizing" (aggression, attentional problems).

Riding the cortisol roller coaster

Youngsters who developed depression-like symptoms or anxiety problems in adolescence had high levels of cortisol. However, those who developed symptoms earlier had abnormally low cortisol levels. The conclusion? Cortisol levels go up when individuals are first stressed by depression or anxiety, but then decline again if they experience stress for an extended period.

"It seems the body adapts to long-term stress, such as depression, by blunting its normal response," says coauthor Lisa Serbin, a psychology professor who is Ruttle's PhD supervisor and Concordia University Research Chair in Human Development.

"To take an extreme example, if someone sees a bear in the yard, that person experiences a 'flight or fight' reaction," continues Serbin, a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development. "Stress levels and therefore cortisol levels go up. However, if the same person sees bears in the yard every day for a year, the stress response is blunted. Eventually, cortisol levels become abnormally low."

Aggressive behavior in early childhood

At first glance, study results from children with aggressive behavior and attentional problems seem to contradict this theory. In this group they found that low levels of cortisol were related to aggressive behavior both during childhood and adolescence.
"This blunted response makes sense from a physiological point of view," says Ruttle. "In the short term, high levels of cortisol help the body respond to stress. However, in the long term, excessive levels of cortisol are linked to a range of physical and mental health problems. Weight loss refers to the decrease or cutting the weight that is in your body. Weight loss is also a decrease in the body mass of a person. This decrease in the body mass is due to decrease in the body fluids, adipose tissue and etc. weight loss, however, it starts happening naturally, is dangerous because it is usually due to some sickness in your body. That is why monthly checkups are vital even if everything Is going just normal in your body. This weight loss planner is the most helpful one that you will ever find. However, it is also very simple to use and is not complex at all. Without this weight loss calculator(, you will have no idea of where to start and how much calories you need to cut in order to reach.
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Thank you. Complicated. Turns out he had been being badly bullied and decided 'if you can't beat them - join them'. Still an underlying defiant/belligerent response but we have a path to follow.

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