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Questions for Dr. Kennedy
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Addison's Disease and Anger
Posted by: Dave
Date: February 6, 2001 4:54 PM

I am a 31-year old male, diagnosed with Addison's Disease 3-4 years ago. During my childhood and teen years I exhibited frequent, rage-filled behavior. While much of my childhood anger still exists, it survives in an internalized and suppressed state. I am VERY interested to learn more about how anger/rage (or suppression thereof) affects the adrenal glands and if my angry "track record" could be a possible cause of (or contributing factor to) my Addison's.

RE: Addison's Disease and Anger
Posted by: Ron Kennedy, M.D.
Date: February 7, 2001 4:13 AM

The hormonal link with rage is in relationship to testosterone in men who are low in progesterone. Progesterone occupies the brain receptor sites which can also be occupied by testosterone. If there is little progesterone to occupy these sites, testosterone atttaches and this produces irritablility and angry thoughts; and if these cannot be contained, rage. Cortisol has a calming effect and its absence would potentiate the situation described. I doubt you damaged your adrenals by being rageful; more likely that you were hypoadrenal and this contributed to your rage. There is a spiritual dimension of anger, but I will leave off that discussion in this context. By the way, hypoadrenalism definitely supports anger and rage in women, so much so that it sometimes makes these patients hard (sometimes impossible) for the doctor to tolerate in the early stages of treatment.

RE: Addison's Disease and Anger
Posted by: Dave
Date: February 7, 2001 3:41 PM

As I understand it high levels of catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenalin) cause a decrease in testosterone and hydrocortisone (a stressful change in our body). As this stress increases, the adrenal glands increase their hormone output until they become exhausted. After months or years of this overproduction and exhaustion, the adrenals become weak and (I assume) can ultimately become non-functional (i.e., primary Addison's). Unless I have mis-interpreted the conclusions contained in this study, this appears to point to a connection between anger and Addison's.

RE: Addison's Disease and Anger
Posted by: Ron Kennedy, M.D.
Date: February 8, 2001 12:23 AM

Addison's is complete adrenal collapse. I do not know that a cause has ever been proven. The most likely explanation from my point of veiw would be generalized or specific toxicity. Chronic anger is certainly stressful and if prolonged could account for hypoadrenalism (so-called adrenal fatigue), but I would hesitate to think that it could go all the way to Addison's. When considering the adrenals, they are actually two glands in one. The cortex produces the glucocorticoids such as cortisol and the medulla produces adrenalin and noradrenalin. Dysregulation of one does not necessarily come hand in hand with dysregulation of the other. As to adrenalin lowering testosterone levels, that is news to me but chronic stress produces high levels of the catecholamines which in turn lead to anxiety.



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