High Cortisol Levels: Another TikTok Fad or Something You Should Worry About?

Here's what the experts say.
Young man, lying on the couch in the living room, covered with a yellow blanket, very cold and with fever.
Guillermo Spelucin via Getty Images
Young man, lying on the couch in the living room, covered with a yellow blanket, very cold and with fever.

If you’re an avid TikTok user, you’ll know that there are some inevitabilities when scrolling your For You Page (FYP): dance routines, lip-syncing, and being diagnosed with something new every day thanks to a blend of the hyper-personalised algorithm and creators discussing vaguely defined symptoms.

The latest that’s been trending is high cortisol levels or Cushings Syndrome.

Creators on the app describe having fatigue, permanent bloating, feeling overwhelmed and excessive belly fat. While some creators are recommending that people with these symptoms see doctors, others suggest more ‘natural’ forms of healing such as waking up with sunshine, morning exercise and breathing exercises throughout the day.

So, What Are the Symptoms of High Cortisol Levels?

As tempting as it may be to learn more about Cushings Syndrome to the backdrop of whichever song is currently trending, it’s vital to have a fuller picture of the condition and the symptoms associated with it before coming to conclusions about your own health.

According to the NHS, symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome are:

  • Increased fat on chest and stomach but slimmer arms and legs
  • A build-up of fat on the back of the neck and shoulders
  • A red, puffy, rounded face
  • Skin that bruises easily
  • Weakness in upper arms and thighs
  • A reduced sex drive
  • Libido and fertility problems
  • Depression and mood swings

Of course, these symptoms can be due to a wide range of causes and Cushing’s Syndrome is still relatively rare. It mostly affects women between ages of 20-50 but can impact anybody at any stage of life.


Replying to @carimehometonight the first 4 are the most important- high cortisol is one of the most common hormonal imbalances. And you are able to go back to the basics of your health, and support your body as a whole holistically.

♬ original sound - SADEE | Holistic health coach

What Are the Causes of High Cortisol Levels?

  • One of the main causes is long-term usage of steroid medications such as prednisone, prednisolone or dexamethasone
  • Tumours found in the pituitary gland and, rarely, neuroendocrine tumours in the body such as lungs can cause high cortisol levels
  • Heavy alcohol consumption can result in increased production of cortisol
  • Severe depression is also thought to be a contributing factor

How Do We Diagnose and Treat High Cortisol Levels?

Turns out, not by watching Tiktoks! We were surprised, too!

If you think you have high cortisol levels or if you’re suffering from any of the symptoms associated with it, discuss them with your GP. and if they think it’s necessary, you’ll be sent for further testing and treatment to get your body back on track.

Treatment for high cortisol levels depends entirely on the cause and can range from anything from surgery to hormone replacement medication.

Can We Learn Anything From TikTok Creators?

Yes! While social media apps aren’t necessarily the best places to rely on for health and wellness advice, the advice given surrounding high cortisol levels is generally good advice for wellbeing and self-care. Ensuring that you get enough sunlight, regular exercise and, if you are struggling from overwhelm, breathing exercises such as box breathing can be incredibly helpful.

The Tiktok algorithm is incredibly intelligent and is often described by users as being a little ‘too specific’ but when it comes to potentially serious conditions, it’s vital that you speak to real-world experts who can provide personalised care and advice for you and your body.