Stress is known to activate key brain regions, namely the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, to stimulate the production and secretion of stress hormones such as corticosteroids and adrenalin. Consequently, there is an elevation in heart rate, blood pressure and energy levels, as cortisol increases blood sugar levels and allows the brain to use the insulin more efficiently.
At the same time, it also depresses the normal immune responses, digestive function, sexual function and other ‘non-essential’ functions. While these natural responses can be helpful in real stressful situations, over time, they can negatively impact health and wellbeing. Long-term repeated or chronic stress can have negative consequences on multiple physiological processes leading to anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, cognition issues, as well as cardiovascular disease, immune system issues, digestive impairment, reproductive issues and many other health issues.
It has been 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 day-to-day struggle. If they become chronic, stress and anxiety will eventually end up affecting your thoughts, feelings, behaviour and even your physical body.
However, it is good to know 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 available to confirm or measure them. Yet you feel them, and therefore you are best positioned to assess whether or not you feel stressed or anxious. Though, very intense or lasting stress or anxiety can fuel various health disorders and medical conditions, situations that require medical assistance.
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 behavioural 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 diverse emotional experience, known as psychosomatic medicine, marks a relatively new era in medicine. The central concept of psychosomatic medicine is the scientific fact that 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 behaviour, but also on the proper functioning of the body and on 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 mobilization of energy and adapt the individual for 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 behavioural 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 sympathetic branch of the autonomous nervous system kicks in and your body is nourished, healed and the energy is restored. Whenever you are facing a threat, the parasympathetic 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 takes its 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 balance and health. 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 significant improvement in symptoms of autoimmune disorders, addiction and behavioural 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 immobilize the bone and let it heal, because this ancestral approach works on all bones. However, when dealing with stress and anxiety, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore the psychiatry, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic-programming, 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 physical 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.
- Allergy attacks
- Immune system deficiency
- Immune system overdrive
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Rheumathoid arthritis
- Shingles (Herpes zoster, zona )
- Addictive behavior
- Vulnerability to addiction
- Bad decisions
- Bipolar disorder
- Drug Abuse
- Sleep disorders
- Impaired learning and memory
- Nicotine dependence
- smoking and drinking
- Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
- Abnormal heart rhythms (Heart rhythm disorders)
- Acute stress-induced cardiomyopathy
- Broken heart syndrome
- Cause of heart disease
- Depression and anxiety can spike risk of heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Higher rate of heart issues
- Heart attack
- Heart attack and stroke
- Increased heart rate
- Stress is linked to heightened risk of cardiovascular disease
- Varicose veins
- Bulimia nervosa
- Binge eating disorder
- Diarrhoea and constipation
- Eating disorder
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Indigestion (Dyspepsia, upset stomach)
- Heartburn (Acid reflux)
- Overweight, obesity
- Phantom stomachaches
- Stress ulcer
- Stomach aches from anxiety, stress
- Stress and the microbiome
- Stress may undermine your diet
- Stress can add inches to your spouse’s waist
- Abdominal migraines
- Back pain
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Headache & migraines
- Shoulder and back pain
- Anxiety doesn’t just make you feel terrible in your mind, it also has a physical effect on your body. There are obvious and immediate physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and nausea but some sufferers may also experience longer term symptoms that occur as a direct result of the anxiety. - See more at: https://www.nicehair.org/hair-loss-causes/is-anxiety-causing-your-hair-loss#sthash.16rY08WT.dpu
- Lower back pain
- Menstrual cramps
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Chronic tension disorder,
- Neuromuscular tension disorder
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle tension
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Persistent tight muscles
- Stress effects on genome, intestines and brain
- Stiff-person syndrome
- Stress is contagious
- Stress is hereditary transmissible
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)
- Tension headache
- Couple infertility
- Woman fertility
- Diminished sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction (ED, Impotence)
- Hypersexual disorder
- Lower birth weight babies
- Pregnancy loss (Miscarriage)
- Stress can affect male fertility
- Stress and reproductive failure
- Pregnancy stress could determine gender of offsprings
- Stress in pregnancy linked to changes in infant's nervous system
- Stress can kill your sex life
- Stress and prostatitis
- Vicious cycle of stress and infertility
- Sexual dysfunction
- Acne (Pimples)
- Stress is aging your skin
- Atopic dermatitis
- Canker sores (Mouth ulcers)
- Cold sores (Nongenital herpes simplex infections)
- Gum disease
- Oral health problems
- Psycho-dermatological conditions
- Stress can make your skin look worse
- Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
- Alzheimer's disease
- Alopecia ariata
- Anxiety makes you smell worse
- Cancer incidence
- Chronic prostatitis
- Chronic pelvic pain syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Gray or white hair
- Hair loss
- Chronic prostatitis
- Insulin resistance (Diabetes type 2)
- Increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders
- Low motor development
- Life span
- Pelvic floor disorders
- Premature aging
- Pre-Alzheimer's condition
- Stress-raised cholesterol
- Stress can make you look older
- Stress and anxiety are getting you sick easily
- Stress is linked to thinking ability issues
- Stress can damage your brain
- Stress causes cancer to spread six times faster
- Stress makes cancer deadly
- Stress drives type 2 diabetes
- Stress-induced thyroid dysfunction
- Stress shortens life
- Urinary, sexual, bowel trouble
- Stress and varicose veins
- Vision loss
- Your stress can have a negative impact on the well-being of your pet.
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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Disclaimer: The above content is intended for general informational purposes and does not constitute any psychological or other medical professional advice. I don't diagnose medical conditions, nor do I interfere with any treatments given by your medical professional.
If you are already 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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