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Stress and anxiety-related health issues.

        Your body knows how to heal itself, how to repair broken proteins, remove cancer cells, delay aging and fight all kinds of infections.

Your body even knows how to heal ulcers, make skin lesions disappear, and knit together broken bones! But here's the thing! These natural self-healing mechanisms don't work when you're exhausted from stress, anxiety, trauma, or other negative states of mind. This is why, chronic stress and anxiety are not only facts of modern life, but also the driving factors of mental and physical health disorders.

Stress is known to activate key brain regions, namely the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and stimulate the secretion of stress hormones such as corticosteroids and adrenaline. The result is an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and energy levels. At the same time, normal immune responses, digestive function, sexual function, and other "non-essential" functions are suppressed.

While these natural responses can be helpful in truly stressful situations, over time they can negatively impact health and well-being. Long-term, repeated or chronic stress can have negative effects on many physiological processes, leading to anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, and cognitive problems, as well as cardiovascular disease, immune system problems, digestive disorders, reproductive problems, and many other health issues.

It is estimated that 75 – 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for problems related to stress, anxiety, and other strong emotions. Most of us experience occasional stressful situations, but for some, stress is a daily struggle. If it becomes chronic, stress and anxiety will eventually affect your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and even your physical body.

It is good to know, however, that stress and anxiety are not normative concepts, nor are they diseases in themselves. Although your stress and anxiety are not imaginary, there is no laboratory test to confirm or measure them. However, you do feel them, and therefore you are in the best position to judge whether or not you feel stressed or anxious. However, very intense or prolonged stress or anxiety can fuel various health disorders and medical conditions, situations that require medical attention.

Emotions are not just mental states and emotional feelings. Today's view of emotions is that emotions are experienced at four different, but closely interrelated levels: the mental or psychological level (the brain), the physiological level (the chemistry of your body), the somatic level (bodily emotional feelings), and the behavioral level. These complementary aspects are present in all human emotions, even in the most basic ones like stress, fear, and anxiety.

The scientific study of emotion and of the bodily changes that accompany the diverse emotional experiences, known as psychosomatic medicine, marks a relatively new era in medicine. The central concept of psychosomatic medicine is the scientific fact that the mind and body are integral aspects of all human function. The term ‘psychosomatic disorder’ is used for a physical disease that is thought to be triggered, made worse, or caused by emotional factors. To an extent, most diseases are considered psychosomatic, as there is an emotional aspect to every physical disease.

As the nervous system modulates the physiological functions, and the brain takes into account the emotional state in all that it does, strong emotions always end up having an impact, not only on the mood and behavior, but also on the proper functioning of the body and the etiopathogeny of all kinds of diseases.

As an adaptive response to stress and anxiety, there are measurable changes in the serum level of various hormones including cortisol, corticotropin-releasing hormone, catecholamines, glucocorticoids, growth hormone, prolactin, and thyroid hormones. During intense stress and anxiety, plasma levels of these hormones can increase two to fivefold.

Some of these changes may be required to increase the mobilization of energy and adapt the individual to the fight-or-flight response to stress. Activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis and the hypothalamic secretion of the corticotrophin-releasing factor is a prominent neuroendocrine response to stress, promoting survival. However, long-term exposure to stress may lead to various endocrine disorders, gonadal dysfunction, psychosexual dwarfism, obesity, and many other issues.

During intense stress and anxiety, there is a suppression of circulating gonadotropins and gonadal steroid hormones, which are hormones related to the disruption of the normal menstrual cycle. The stress response leads to a drop in androgen levels, sometimes contributing to temporary erectile dysfunction in men. Therefore, prolonged exposure to stress can lead to complete impairment of reproductive functions.

The release of catecholamines leads to increased cardiac output, increase in skeletal muscle blood flow, sodium retention, reduced intestinal motility, cutaneous vasoconstriction, increased glucose, bronchiolar dilatation, and behavioral activation. Insulin may decrease during stress. This along with an increase in its antagonistic hormones can contribute to stress-induced hyperglycemia.

Cortisol favors fat deposition, a decrease in the adipostatic signal leptin, and an increase in the orexigenic signal, inducing increased appetite and food intake. This endocrine response is the hormonal connection of stress and anxiety to the current epidemic of obesity. Acute stress can also precipitate thyroid dysfunction.

As you already know, rather than passively observing what happens to you, your subconscious mind is actually in charge of the proper functioning of your conscious mind and your body through the regulatory mechanisms of your autonomous nervous system. When you feel relaxed and safe, the parasympathetic branch of the autonomous nervous system kicks in and your body is nourished, and healed and the energy is restored. Whenever you are facing a threat, the sympathetic branch of the autonomous nervous system kicks in and the stress response will mobilize all your resources for your survival inbuilt fight or flight response.

While you are in the middle of a stress response, the stress response will mobilize all your resources for your survival, and your body's nourishing, restorative, maintenance and self-repair functions come to a screeching halt. Unfortunately, when the threat is imaginary, the subconscious mind doesn't realize that there is no real threat. Over time, when this stress response is repetitively triggered by imaginary threats, nature's biological response ends up doing more harm than good.

Long term, if your body is not properly nourished, restored, maintained, and repaired, the effects of chronic wear and tear on your body take their toll and you will end up mentally and physically sick. The holistic concept of helping to heal the human being as a whole rather than helping to cure diseases in itself is based on the fact that the natural state of all living systems is balanced and healthy. Therefore, the quickest and most natural approach to rebalancing a diseased and dysfunctional living system is to eliminate the imbalance factors rather than add new elements in the hope of regaining balance and health.

By releasing stress and anxiety, your body creates a loop of positive feedback through the autonomic nervous system, feedback that can rebalance your sympathetic and parasympathetic branches and lead to improvements in symptoms of autoimmune disorders, addiction, and behavioral issues, skin disorders, cardiovascular diseases, eating and gastrointestinal disorders, pain and idiopathic issues, reproductive issues, multifactorial and systemic diseases, and many other chronic conditions. The degree of improvement you can reasonably expect by relieving your persistent stress and anxiety depends on how much you feel that your emotional state affects your health issues.

When dealing with a fractured bone, the standard medical approach is to align and join the broken parts of the bone and let it heal, as this ancestral approach works for everyone and every time. However, when dealing with stress and anxiety, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore psyc hiatry, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic-programming, E.F.T. (emotional freedom tapping), pet therapy, art-therapy, mindfulness, yoga, craniosacral therapy, gravity blanket, mini-horses therapy, and many other approaches based on very contradictory and yet scientific concepts, are all available to solve emotional issues.

Chronic, intense, or repetitive stress and anxiety can lead to various emotional troubles and even psychiatric or somatic medical conditions. According to the American Psychosomatic Society “… there is no such thing as psychosomatic disease. All disease can be looked at from this point of view.”

The following conditions may be aggravated, triggered, or even caused by stress and anxiety, or may be conditions for which you may be at increased risk if you are exposed to prolonged or intense stress and anxiety.

Autoimmune diseases

Addictions and behavioral troubles

Cardiovascular and heart disease

Eating and gastrointestinal disorders

Pains and unexplained (Idiopathic) troubles

Reproductive and sexual  dysfunction

Skin health issues

Multi-factorial and systemic disease

As long as today stressors are some of the leading causes of countless chronic diseases, can conquering this bodily reaction be the answer to all of our health woes?

You are here for a reason and whatever that reason is, don't allow it to cripple your life.

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Contact me and book your appointment today! Let this be the most exciting experience of your life, and I will be happy to help you on your journey.

Disclaimer: The above article may contain statements that reflect the opinion of the author. It is intended for general informational purposes and does not constitute psychological or medical professional advice. I don't diagnose medical conditions, nor do I interfere with any treatments given by your medical professional.

If you already are under the care of a doctor or under medical treatment, follow the advice and treatment recommended by your doctor. For any medical emergency, call the Info-Santé service by dialing 8-1-1

*The results may vary from person to person.

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