When a stressor is perceived and interpreted, the stress response system starts up a cascade of biological events. As a result, we release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
Where does cortisol come from and where does it go?
In scientific lingo, the stress response system is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). After perceiving a stressor, a small brain area called the hypothalamus sends a chemical message to the pituitary gland. From here a new chemical message is sent out of the brain through our blood, to the producers of stress hormones called the adrenal glands that sit on top of the kidneys. This message says “secrete cortisol”.