Stress-related multi-factorial and systemic diseases
Stress and anxiety are considered to be important risk factors of many health issues.
People who experience chronic, repetitive or intense stress and anxiety are at high risk of having digestive problems, fertility problems, urinary problems, a weakened immune system and are also more prone to viral infections, headaches, sleep troubles, depression, behaviour issues and many other trouble and health issues.
When stress and anxiety become very intense or chronic, they can impact the somatic (physical) health as well. As the nervous system modulates all physiological functions, and as the brain takes into account the emotional state in all that it does, the strong emotions always end up having an impact not only on the mood and behavior, but also on the somatic health and on the etiopathogenesis of a large variety of multi-factorial and systemic health issues.
Several epidemiological and clinical studies over the last 30 years have provided strong evidence that psychological stress can affect a tumor’s ability to grow and spread. Consistent data suggest that patients can develop a sense of helplessness or hopelessness when stress becomes overwhelming. This emotional response is associated with higher rates of death. It has long been recognized that widowed and divorced individuals die at much higher rates from all the leading causes of death including cancer.
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, as the stress response will mobilize all your resources for your survival, 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 and, over time, when this stress response is repetitively triggered by nothing but imaginary threats, nature's biological response to a threat ends up actually 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. Therefore, 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 so to significant improvement in symptoms of your stress and anxiety related multi-factorial and systemic issues. 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 to a broken bone 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. Yet, as far as I know, only the somatic hypnotherapy practitioners offer a "no cure - no pay" guaranty.
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 multi-factorial and systemic medical conditions may be aggravated, triggered or even caused by anxiety and stress, or may be conditions for which you may be at increased risk if you are exposed to prolonged or intense stress and anxiety.
Getting sick easily is often associated with stress and anxiety. “Stress has some very real effects on our overall health by suppressing the immune system. This is because when we are stressed we release a hormone called cortisol into our bloodstream and when cortisol is released, the immune-system-supporting hormone called DHEA can’t be released at the same time. As a result, our immune system isn’t as efficient. So, if you find you’re catching colds very easily, or can’t shake them off, it may be because you have a reduced immune system, which can be a result of stress”
Anxiety could be an early manifestation of Alzheimer's: “Symptoms of increasing anxiety may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer's disease years before cognitive impairment is evident, a new study suggests. Researchers have long studied the risk factors that increase the chances of developing Alzheimer's – including neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression. Now, scientists say anxiety symptoms could be a dynamic marker of the disease's early stages.”
Alzheimer's disease "The connections between stress and physical and mental health are undeniable. Studies have found links between acute and/or chronic stress and a wide variety of health issues. This includes reduced immune function, increased inflammation, high blood pressure, and alterations in your brain chemistry, blood sugar levels and hormonal balance, just to name a few. According to recent research, stress also appears to be related to onset of Alzheimer's disease."
Pre-Alzheimer's Condition Feeling stressed out increases the likelihood that elderly people will develop mild cognitive impairment—often a prelude to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. In a new study, scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System found that highly stressed participants were more than twice as likely to become impaired than those who were not. Because the results suggest that detecting and treating stress in older people might help delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Role of early-life stress in adult illness. "Scientists have long known that chronic exposure to psychosocial stress early in life can lead to an increased vulnerability later in life to diseases linked to immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation, including arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even mental illness."
Anxiety and stress are messing with your good looks. “For instance, stress hastens our hair's natural growth cycle, which can expedite hair loss, and prolongs the hair-loss stage in the cycle. It can also cause premature greying, since each hair follicle has a finite amount of pigment; when our hair cycle speeds up due to stress, the pigment drains sooner. Alternatively, sometimes stress signals the hair follicles to stop producing color, which can make hair duller and finer. Stress slows the skin's monthly cell renewal process. Wrinkles, dry skin and delayed healing of acne scars can result. Meanwhile, excess cortisol sets off a hormonal chain reaction that stimulates excess oil production and can instigate, or at least exacerbate, breakouts.”
Stress can have long-term effects on the brain : “A new study looks at how stress when you're young, can have damaging, life-long effects on the brain. A series of studies on how stress impacts your brain found - depending on your race -- each stressful event- even in your young life may be shaving 1.5-4 years off your memory cells, causing a younger onset of dementia and a more rapid progression of the devastating affects of Alzheimer's disease.”
Chronic stress can damage your brain "Scientists have discovered that chronic stress can actually damage your brain. Most people find ways to cope with the every day stresses that come our way. But chronic stress - the kind that keeps you up at night - is more dangerous. "Stress affects everything you do, including your brain," said Dr. Douglas Scharre, the director of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. He says constant stress can trigger long-term changes in your brain's function. "Long term you're actually changing receptors in the brain." Scharre says stress can even cause part of your brain to shrink. "If it's a long-term stress, that might affect things like attention, focus, problem-solving, decision-making.
Stress raises cholesterol "Of all the factors contributing to high cholesterol, many cardiologists say one often goes unmentioned in advice for patients: stress. Yet chronic stress from a tough job, a strained relationship or other anxiety-producing situations can play a role—along with poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise—in causing lipid concentrations to rise, they say. Cholesterol deposited by LDL can accumulate in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis, which can reduce blood flow."
Stress really is killing us. “There are new clues that the high levels of stress many people endure every day are taking a deadly toll. White, working-class Americans are dying in middle age at a rapidly increasing pace, reversing a long-standing trend toward greater life expectancy across all races and social classes, according to a new report from economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton. Much of this alarming trend comes from “deaths of despair,” especially opioid addictions and overdoses, suicide, and alcohol-related diseases.”
Explosive increase of cancer incidence. The experts have no explanation, but I believe this may also be related to the stress of “civilization”. The belief that cancer might in some way be related to stress or distressful emotions is as old as the history of recorded medicine. Nevertheless, over the past several decades, numerous clinical and animal research studies have continued to confirm the important influences stressful emotions can exert with respect to the development and progression of different diseases, and particularly malignant growth. Some of the major characteristics of cancer prone individuals appear to be frequent feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, an inability to express anger or resentment, an unusual amount of self dislike and distress, and having suffered the loss of a meaningful emotional relationship."
Lung cancer patients with anxiety, depression die sooner: Our study confirms that there is indeed a link for lung cancer patients, and that it's important for health-care providers to treat not only their tumour but also focus on the full emotional experience of the patient. Patients who experience anxiety and depression after being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer are more likely to die sooner, according to new research from the University of British Columbia and BC Cancer Agency.
Long-term stress raises cancer risk 20% in men: “Long periods of stress appear to raise the cancer risk in men by 20 percent compared with those who say they’re stress-free, according to a survey by a Japanese research team. The research was conducted between 1990 and 2012 and tracked 79,301 men and women between 40 and 69.”
Cancer "Stress does have an impact on cancer: Stress fuels cancer by triggering a 'master switch' gene which allows the disease to spread, according to new research. This corrupts the immune system, giving cancer an fast-track around body."
Stress causes cancer to spread six times faster: “Stress can be deadly, especially if you have cancer. Researchers at Australia's Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences found that chronic stress increases activity in the lymphatic system allowing cancer to spread six times faster. Being diagnosed with cancer is stressful, and surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments add to the load. The research points to controlling stress as being an important part of cancer treatment. These findings demonstrate an instrumental role for stress in controlling lymphatic function to impact health, and suggest that blocking the effects of stress to prevent cancer spread through lymphatic routes may provide a way to improve outcomes for patients with cancer.”
Anxiety is linked to early death from cancer: Anxiety, therefore, could mask underlying health conditions or could represent an early warning signal for poor health that might occur down the road. Previous studies have shown that anxiety can increase the risk for a host of other negative outcomes, such as heart disease, diabetes, and thyroid conditions. Symptoms of anxiety have also been shown to precede poor health. We have also found, for the first time, that anxiety is associated with an increased risk for early death from cancer in men.
Stress turns cancer deadly: "Chronic stress accelerates the spread of cancer, scientists have revealed. A new study found that stress builds lymphatic ‘highways’ that allow cancer cells to move around the body faster. Furthermore, high stress levels trigger increased lymphatic activity, which helps cancer cells move more freely. This finding could lead to the development of new treatments to stop the spread of cancer".
Gray or white hair: "A 2013 New York University study published in Nature Magazine claimed a link between long-term ongoing stress and hair color. In that study, the researchers found that hormones produced in response to stress can deplete the melanocyte stem cells that determine hair color. They found that stress causes the stem cells to leave our hair follicles, leaving hair gray or white."
Premature Aging "A wide range of studies have shown that the caused by things like: untreated , , long-term unemployment, ... can speed-up the attacks process by shortening the length of each DNA strand."
Can Stress Cause Prostatitis? Stress and emotional health can be important causative factors in chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). When a man experiences stress, anxiety, and tension it can elevate his prolactin levels, which can lead to damage of the immune system and cause inflammation. It can also cause an imbalance in the neuro-endocrine system, leading to chronic pain. The tension that is brought on by stress and emotional health can lead to a chronic tension disorder, neuromuscular tension disorder, and other pelvic floor disorders, all which can cause pelvic pain and sometimes urinary, sexual, or bowel trouble.
Financial Stress Can Make You Look Older It’s well known that a number of factors—such as sunburns and smoking—can cause people to look older than they otherwise would. Now, a new study suggests something else should be added to that list: financial stress. The study, published in July in the journal Research on Aging, found that people with high levels of financial stress looked older to others and seemed to have aged more over a nine-year period than people who felt more in control of their financial situation.
Anxiety may give dogs gray hair - It’s no secret that chronic stress and anxiety can increase the odds that a person will develop gray hair. Now, new research has found that phenomenon extends to dogs as well. The study, which was published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, found that young dogs whose owners said the pets were anxious and impulsive were more likely to develop gray muzzles prematurely when compared to dogs that were not rated as anxious or impulsive.
Life Span "Can anxiety cause you to age faster? Researchers have found that there is a link between anxiety a nd life span. A common form of anxiety, called phobic anxiety, could possibly trigger cellular damage in your body, which would lead to a level of premature aging."
Stress Shortens Life: "In today’s increasingly high-paced world, stress has become part and parcel of our lives. It is well-known that chronic stress and depression are detrimental to our well-being and we are often able to tell its physical manifestation in a loved one or close friend. Can we take that one step further and claim that stress affects how long we live? To this end, researchers have demonstrated recently for the first time that higher level of stress and depression is linked to accelerated aging from a genetic perspective. The findings in the studies described herein came about from extensive investigations of both C. elegans worms and human cohorts. For the first time, scientists were able to identify a number of genes that appeared to be linked to mood and stress disorders as well as lifespan. This suggests that this group of genes could be at the interface between longevity, stress and our mood. In particular, the expression of a gene called ANK3 appeared to be correlated with our lifespan to some extent."
Can A Stressful Job Kill You? 5 Common cancer types linked to work-related stress in males: "We all experience stress to a certain degree when it comes to our jobs. This work-related stress is brought on by numerous factors, which range from long hours to a lack of compensation. In the U.S., prostate cancer is the leading cancer for men, followed by lung cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder, and melanoma, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stress, specifically long-term or chronic stress, promotes the growth and spread of some forms of cancer, or in other words, it makes the body more susceptible to cancer. This type of stress can weaken the immune system, and leave us vulnerable to other diseases, too."
Is your career killing you? "Analyzing more than 2,300 people during a seven-year period, researchers found that employees in high-stress positions who have little decision-making freedom at work were more likely to die young. Along with this, they say these people often have a higher body mass index than employees who have more control at work, as they may eat more, smoke, or engage in other behaviours to cope with the demands of the job. The findings suggest that having a higher degree of discretion in your job could help to manage work-related stress, contributing to a longer and healthier life.
Work stress may be deadly for men with heart disease and diabetes. "We found that work stress is particularly harmful for those with problems in the cardiovascular and metabolic systems, such as those with diabetes, heart disease or a history of stroke," "We found that this excess risk remained even if the person was free of conventional risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol concentration," said lead study author Mika Kivimaki, a researcher at the University College London and the University of Helsinki.”
Dementia "The concept that lifetime stressors could trigger the development of the disease, or at least facilitate the leap from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to full-blown dementia, has gained momentum in recent years, and researchers are starting to devote more resources to exploring the relationship more fully. All of us go through stressful events. We are looking to understand how these may become a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s. This is the first stage in developing ways in which to intervene with psychological or drug based treatments to fight the disease.”
A recent study suggests that living with moderate to severe anxiety in midlife may lead to dementia in later years. “The new research was carried out by a team of scientists led by Amy Gimson, a researcher at the University of Southampton's Faculty of Medicine in the United Kingdom. Gimson and her colleagues observed that more and more studies were highlighting a link between mental health problems and late-onset dementia — the most prevalent form of dementia, which affects people around the age of 65.”
Stress induced chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Stress and emotional health can be important causative factors in chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). When a man experiences stress, anxiety, and tension it can elevate his prolactin levels, which can lead to damage of the immune system and cause inflammation. It can also cause an imbalance in the neuroendocrine system, leading to chronic pain. The tension that is brought on by stress and emotional health can lead to a chronic tension disorder, neuromuscular tension disorder, and other pelvic floor disorders, all which can cause pelvic pain and sometimes urinary, sexual, or bowel trouble.
Can Stress Accelerate Progression of Parkinson’s Disease? “In a study of more than 4,000 patients, a stress proxy score predicted mortality and was associated with worsening mobility. The findings suggest that stress reduction may be an effective intervention in Parkinson’s disease, said Amie Hiller, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. “Potentially, stress reduction is something we could think about to slow Parkinson’s disease progression,” said Dr. Hiller. “Our goal is to not only treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but to slow progression of the disease.”
Research suggests that stressful life events may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. In addition, animal studies indicate that stress damages dopamine cells, resulting in more severe parkinsonian symptoms. In humans, acute stress can worsen motor symptoms, including bradykinesia, freezing, and tremor.”
Stress drives type 2 diabetes "A stressed-out young man is more likely to become a diabetic middle-aged man, according to a Swedish study. Eighteen-year-old males with low resistance to stress were 50% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in their forties than their counterparts with high resistance to stress, reported lead investigator Casey Crump, MD, PhD, of Stanford University in California, and colleagues in Sweden."
Insulin Resistance (Diabetes Type 2) "Results of longitudinal studies suggest that depression, general emotional stress and anxiety, sleeping problems, anger and hostility are associated with an increased risk for the development of Type 2 Diabetes. When under stress (physical, mental or emotional), blood sugar rises in order to supply energy for fight or flight. Stress increases the body’s demand for energy, whether it is an acute life and death situation, or coping with chronic mental or emotional difficulties. In people with diabetes, the flight or fight response does not work as well."
Stress-induced thyroid dysfunction: Most medical literature correlates stress-induced thyroid dysfunction to overactive thyroids, noted frequently in hyperthyroidism, and a condition called Graves’ disease. This condition is marked by an autoimmune response causing the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone, especially after a sudden, stressful change in life circumstances. It’s not uncommon to lose weight for a short period after experiencing major events like divorce or a death in the family due to too much thyroid hormone. But excessive stress can also lead to another condition called hypothyroidism, when the thyroid slows down its hormone production. Either condition can create problems. With chronic stress, either process can actually go on for years in your body, unnoticed, before you start to have symptoms reflecting the imbalance. Sometimes it’s called subclinical hypothyroidism, when lab results appear within the normal range, but patients are still experiencing symptoms.
Extreme stress in childhood is toxic to your DNA. “Studies of children who have experienced major early childhood stress reveal that dysfunction in many organs in the body years after the stressful event, raising the risk of heart disease, lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, poor school performance, drug abuse and mental illness. Scientists in the institute where I work have recently shown that the sensitivity of DNA packaging to environmental stress is greater during the first five years of life than all of the rest of life combined.”
Hair Loss "Evidence strongly suggests that stress is a major underlying cause of hair loss. Anxiety is a type of stress that comes in a variety of forms. For example you might feel some very minor anxiety that you’ll be late for work. Or you might fell anxious about affording to pay all your bills this month. 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."
Alopecia Ariata "People have long been known to willfully pull out their own hair owing to anxiety, but it’s widely believed that chronic stress can cause inadvertent hair loss as well. When someone is faced with a powerful stressor, like divorce or illness, or goes through a life-changing event, like childbirth, the body can inexplicably trigger much of their hair to enter this resting period, causing it to fall out pretty much all at once a few months later. Known as telogen effluvium, doctors believe it’s simply the body’s way of taking a time-out while larger problems, be it recovery or coping, are addressed"
Increased risk of developing neuro-psychiatric disorders: "Experiencing anxiety, fear and stress is considered a normal part of life when it is occasional and temporary, such as feeling anxious and stressed before an exam or a job interview. However, when those acute emotional reactions become more frequent or chronic, they can significantly interfere with daily living activities such as work, school and relationships. Chronic stress is a pathological state that is caused by prolonged activation of the normal acute physiological stress response, which can wreak havoc on immune, metabolic and cardiovascular systems, and lead to atrophy of the brain’s hippocampus (crucial for long-term memory and spatial navigation). “Pathological anxiety and chronic stress are associated with structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia,” said Dr. Linda Mah, clinician scientist with Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and lead author of the review.
Low motor development "Stress During Pregnancy May Affect Children's Motor Development. New research suggests that stress experienced by mothers during pregnancy is related to their children's behavior, as well as mental and cognitive outcomes in middle childhood and into adolescence".
Anxiety Makes You Smell Worse “If anxiety makes you feel like a sweaty, rumpled mess, you’re not imagining things. It turns out that, indeed, anxiety makes you smell worse. As Cristen Conger, host of Stuff Your Mom Never Told You, explains in a new video, anxiety makes people produce a special, extra-stinky kind of sweat. Research has shown that not all sweat is the same. When we’re anxious, we make a different kind of sweat than we do when we’re exercising — a smellier kind. The sweat that pours off of you in the middle of spin class is made up of more than 90 percent water and doesn’t have much of a smell. This type of sweat is produced by the eccrine gland. When you’re seized by anxiety, you trigger a different set of chain reactions.” Unlike watery exercise sweat, this anxiety-induced fluid is made up of 80 percent water and 20 percent fats and proteins. Bacteria that live on the skin love these fats and proteins and gobble them up, producing an unpleasant odor.”
How Anxiety And Depression Make Healing After Surgery Slower And Harder: "Anxiety and depression make handling everyday life more difficult, but it seems these conditions also make healing from surgery considerably harder. That’s according to a large study of individuals undergoing four types of surgeries, experiencing a range of depression and anxiety symptoms. The results show that patients with moderate anxiety or depression were more likely to have wound complications and to be readmitted to the hospital, and on average had longer hospital stays. Those with more severe anxiety and depression tended to have worse complications."
Spasmophilia "It is a crisis of violent muscular contractions and uncontrollable, occurring in a context of anxiety or frustration as a result. It is a very common problem that affects mainly young women. The term tetany is often incorrectly used to spasmophilia because tetanus is a genuine reduction of calcium in the blood (serum calcium). The cause of spasmophilia about it is very controversial. For some doctors it is a temporary and transient decrease in serum calcium and magnesium, for others it is an acute manifestation of anxiety that the Anglo-Saxons call panic attack, for still others, it is modern form of hysteria."
Study confirms strong association between anxiety, depression and glaucoma : “Researchers found that anxiety and depression are strongly linked with glaucoma, an association that does not change with age, according to a study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology.”
Vision Loss "We all know about the potentially harmful effects of stress. Ongoing stress can leave us more susceptible to physical and psychological illnesses including high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety and depression. Stress is also linked to another surprising problem – vision loss. A condition called central serous retinopathy, or CSR, is a disease that causes fluid to build up under the retina, the back part of the eye that sends sight information to the brain. It may be caused by emotional stress."
Persistent stress may lead to vision loss, study shows. “A new analysis of clinical reports and existing research suggests that "stress is both consequence and cause of vision loss." The findings indicate that clinicians should refrain from adding any unnecessary stress to their patients, and that reducing stress may help to restore vision. In their paper, Prof. Sabel and colleagues explain that persistent stress, which raises levels of the hormone cortisol, can negatively affect our vascular and sympathetic nervous systems. This, in turn, affects our brain and eyes, which may lead to conditions such as glaucoma and optic neuropathy, ultimately resulting in complete vision loss.
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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 conditions, nor do I interfere with any treatments given by your medical professional.
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