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Stress-related multi-factorial and systemic diseases
When you experience a dangerous situation that scares you, your body releases a cocktail of hormones that speed up your heart rate and cause many other somatic (physical) symptoms.
While these natural responses can be helpful in a truly dangerous real-life situation, when dangers are imaginary, the feelings of fear you experience - such as stress and anxiety - can negatively impact your well-being and health. When stress and anxiety become very intense or chronic, they may have a negative impact on health and well-being, particularly on the etiopathogenesis of most multi-factorial and systemic health issues.
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 immune system and the etiopathogenesis of all kinds of multi-factorial and systemic diseases.
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 functions. 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.
People who experience chronic, repetitive or intense stress, and anxiety are at high risk of having digestive problems, fertility problems, urinary problems, and a weakened immune system and are also more prone to viral infections, headaches, sleep troubles, depression, behavior issues, and many other trouble and health issues.
When stress and anxiety become very intense or chronic, they can impact somatic (physical) health as well. Since the nervous system modulates all physiological functions, and as 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 somatic health and 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 suggests 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, and healed and 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 take 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 autoimmune 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 psychiatry, 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 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”.
Here are a few of the many multi-factorial and systemic medical conditions that are aggravated, triggered, or even caused by stress, trauma, and anxiety, and for which you can reasonably expect improvements when you improve your emotional health.
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”
Stress: The Unseen Killer: "The HPA (hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis) reactions to persistent stress lead to a weakening of the immune system, making us more susceptible to a variety of health problems including colds and other diseases. Stress also damages our DNA, making us less likely to be able to repair wounds and respond to the genetic mutations that cause disease. As a result, wounds heal more slowly when we are under stress, and we are more likely to get cancer. Chronic stress is also a major contributor to heart disease."
High Stress Reduces Cognitive Ability : "People who live with high stress are more apt to lose cognitive function, affecting their memory, thinking, learning and concentration, a new study says. Stress not only worsens your current cognition, but it can actually have harmful effects in the long-term as well"
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.”
Anxiety Linked to a Faster Alzheimer’s Onset: "The idea that anxiety somehow foreshadows Alzheimer’s is not new: We have seen it in, for example, 2018 findings that increased anxiety corresponded with higher levels of beta-amyloid, the protein that forms plaques in people with Alzheimer’s disease. We also saw it earlier this year, in a 2020 study with similar findings, detecting a link between repetitive negative thinking (chronic worry) and other key biomarkers of Alzheimer’s. Now, a new study from the Medical University of South Carolina, recently presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, demonstrates a link between anxiety and faster progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s."
How Chronic Stress May Increase the Likelihood of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease “What we know is that chronic stress does affect many biological pathways within our body. There is an intimate interplay between exposure to chronic stress and pathways influencing the body’s reaction to such stress,” said David Groth, PhD, a senior author of the study and an associate professor at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. Genetic variations within these pathways can influence the way the brain’s immune system behaves, leading to a dysfunctional response. In the brain, this leads to chronic disruption of normal brain processes, increasing the risk of subsequent neurodegeneration and ultimately dementia.”
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.
Scientists discovered how chronic stress causes brain damage “Chronic stress is infamous for its association with various mental diseases such as depression and schizophrenia that have become very serious social problems. Stress can even raise the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. However, the exact mechanisms underlying damages of brain functions have not been well known yet.”
Anxiety and Seizures: Is There a Connection? "Seizures can be caused by a variety of triggers, including increased stress and anxiety. In fact, according to the British Epilepsy Association Trusted Source, stress is one of the most commonly self-reported seizure triggers in people with epilepsy. Research has also shown that even in people without epilepsy, stress and anxiety can trigger what’s known as psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), or pseudoseizures. PNES are physiologically different from the neurological seizures found in epilepsy."
The role of stress as a trigger for epileptic seizures: “Many studies have demonstrated that patients with epilepsy consider stress to be the most common trigger for their seizures, and stress‐related neuroendocrine and immune system changes have been described that could influence the development and subsequent course of epilepsy. Nevertheless, current evidence suggests that stress may exacerbate the epileptic activity (or its effects) in the brain, and play a role in triggering overt spontaneous seizures, at least in a proportion of individuals.”
Stress Shrinks Your Brain; “We're not kidding. When we're stressed, our body releases the hormone cortisol, and in limited doses, it can actually be beneficial. But studies—including one at the University of California at Berkeley—have shown that chronic stress actually decreases the weight and volume of the brain.”
Stress hormone cortisol linked to early toll on thinking ability: “The stresses of everyday life may start taking a toll on the brain in relatively early middle age, new research shows. The study of more than 2,000 people, most of them in their 40s, found those with the highest levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol performed worse on tests of memory, organization, visual perception and attention. Higher cortisol levels, measured in subjects’ blood, were also found to be associated with physical changes in the brain that are often seen as precursors to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to the study published in October in Neurology.”
Stress and hormones "As an adaptive response to stress, there is a change in the serum level of various hormones including CRH, cortisol, catecholamines and thyroid hormone. These changes may be required for the fight or flight response of the individual to stress. However, long-term exposure to stress may lead to many deleterious consequences leading to various endocrine disorders. Also, stress leads to change in the clinical course or status of many endocrine conditions."
Can Stress Cause You to Skip a Period? - Stress-related causes of light, late or nonexistent periods: “When under stress, your body produces cortisol. Depending on how your body tolerates stress, the cortisol may lead to delayed or light periods — or no period at all (amenorrhea), says Dr. Kollikonda. If stress continues, you can go without a period for a long time.”
Stress and Anxiety-Related Adrenal Fatigue: The Other Pandemic : "Stress-induced adrenal fatigue/burnout is another pandemic happening right now. Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to chronic exhaustion that never goes away, no matter how much rest or sleep you get. This is the main symptom of adrenal fatigue or adrenal burnout."
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."
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"
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.”
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.”
Stress and Cancer: "Can stress cause cancer? Currently, there isn’t any evidence to suggest that stress can do so by itself. But whether long-term stress may play a role by tampering with immune defenses is a question that bears closer scrutiny. One theory about how cancer develops suggests that cancerous changes in cells occur frequently for a variety of reasons, but the immune system recognizes the cells as aberrant and destroys them. Only when the immune system becomes ineffective are the cancer cells able to multiply. Chronic stress can hamper the immune system, and this might affect the body’s ability to head off the uncontrolled proliferation of cancerous cells."
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."
Stress linked to more advanced disease in some leukemia patients: Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who feel more stress also have more cancer cells in their blood and elevated levels of three other markers of more advanced disease. Stress was linked to disease severity even after the researchers took into account several other important factors that also play a role in disease progression, including gender, the number of prior treatments and the presence of a genetic marker that is associated with harder-to-treat CLL
Colon cancer is caused by bacteria and cell stress: Researchers at Technical University Munich have reported findings related to the development of colon cancer. "We originally wanted to study the role of bacteria in the intestines in the development of intestinal inflammation. However, the surprising result for us was the discovery that bacteria, together with stress in cells, caused tumors (exclusively in the colon) and without the involvement of inflammation."
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.”
How chronic stress boosts cancer cell growth “Chronic stress, which a person has consistently over a long period of time, affects mental and emotional well-being as well as physical health. Studies have tied chronic stress to accelerated cognitive impairment, a higher risk of heart problems, and problems with gut health. Previous research also suggests that exposure to stress could speed up the growth of cancer through its impact on gene activity.”
Stress Can Fuel Cancer; “In addition to generally suppressing the immune system, stress can lead to the growth of malignant cells, making a cancerous tumor bigger, says one study.”
Stress hormones promote breast cancer metastasis “It has long been thought that stress contributes to cancer progression. Scientists from the University of Basel and the University Hospital of Basel have deciphered the molecular mechanisms linking breast cancer metastasis with increased stress hormones. In addition, they found that synthetic derivatives of stress hormones, which are frequently used as anti-inflammatory in cancer therapy, decrease the efficacy of chemotherapy. “
Women with post-traumatic stress at higher risk for ovarian cancer “A researcher from Moffitt Cancer Center participated in the study, which found that those with six or more symptoms of PTSD had double the risk of getting the disease. Women who have experienced multiple symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder have double the risk of developing ovarian cancer, according to a new study authored in part by a researcher from Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center. The research team, which also included members from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that women who experience six or more symptoms of PTSD in their lifetimes double their risk for ovarian cancer compared to women who’ve never suffered that level of trauma.”
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.”
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, attacks... can speed-up the process by shortening the length of each DNA strand."
Stress and Aging : "The truth is, we must reduce chronic stressors to improve longevity. Multiple studies have demonstrated that people who are happy and healthy are not only nicer; but, their biological aging slows down. We know from research that people that are socially disadvantaged, have histories of adversity and trauma, have shorter telomere length. Unpublished studies and newer research demonstrate that prenatal stress is creating shorter telomere length in the chord blood."
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 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 Could Make You Die Younger; “Watch out. Men who are moderately or highly stressed for a number of years were found to have a 50 percent higher mortality rate, according to the Journal of Aging Research. The good news is that two very stressful situations a year might actually be beneficial, teaching us to cope with adversity. Anything beyond that, however, and it might be an early grave.”
Stress Can Cause You to Drop Dead; “Severe mental stress can bring on "sudden cardiac death," as medical professionals colorfully call it. In particular, suffering through a traumatic event, such as an earthquake or a war strike, can be so stressful that people literally keel over.”
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.
The Link between Chronic Stress and Accelerated Aging: "People exposed to chronic stress age rapidly. The telomeres in their cells of all types shorten faster. Inflammation is another important feature of stress that, along with aging, accounts for the phenomenon of inflammaging. In addition to aging itself, inflammaging can contribute to the development of several pathologies, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, and others."
Stress Can Make You Short of Breath: “When you're stressed, the muscles responsible for breathing tense up, making it more difficult to catch your breath.”
Childhood Stress Can Make You Ill as an Adult: "Stress disrupts your neuroendocrine and immune systems and appears to trigger a degenerative process in your brain that can result in Alzheimer’s disease. Stress can also accelerate aging by shortening your telomeres, the protective genetic structures that regulate how your cells age. In the words of Dr. Lissa Rankin, author of “Mind Over Medicine”
Your dog's stress may be mirroring your own: “If you are neurotic and anxious, your dog may be feeling the stress, too. Numerous studies have found that dogs and their owners can experience synchronized emotions and stress levels, especially during acutely stressful or exciting activities such as competitions or police work. A new study followed dogs and their owners over the course of months to see how stress hormones in both animal and human changed over time. The results suggest that dogs may be quite sensitive to human stress. If the owner is stressed, then the dog is also likely to mirror that stress"
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."
The association between anxiety, traumatic stress, and obsessive–compulsive disorders and chronic inflammation: These data demonstrate the association between inflammatory deregulation and diagnoses associated with chronic and severe anxiety and provides insight into the way that anxiety, and in particular PTSD, is related to certain inflammatory markers. In doing so, these findings may provide an initial step in disentangling the relationship between anxiety and basic health processes.
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.”
Study says stress can lead to a higher risk of dementia. “A stressful life has an array of unhealthy and uncomfortable side effects, and a study has found that for women, a stressful life can also lead to a 21 percent higher risk of Alzheimer’s and a 15 percent higher risk of dementia. The study, which focused on 800 Swedish women’s experiences between 1968 and 2005, found that women who suffer from midlife stress have a much higher risk of developing dementia. Stressors assessed included divorce, bereavement, job loss and mental illness in the family. The higher number of stressors the women experienced, the higher the risk.”
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.
The link between psychological stress and osteoporosis: “Although osteoporosis and psychological stress occur via different mechanisms, several potential molecular links exist between a pathological response to stress and the development of bone disease. Anxiety has been found to contribute to lower hip bone mineral density (BMD), and several studies have shown that depression is a predictor for osteoporosis and fracture. Also germane to the discussion is that pharmacological interventions designed to improve mental health, such as those for major depressive disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder, may affect bone health.”
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."
Stress Spikes Your Blood Sugar; “When you're stressed, your body behaves as if it's under attack, and your liver reacts by releasing more glucose into your bloodstream. Ongoing stress can lead to long-term sugar spikes, putting you at risk of type 2 diabetes, say experts.”
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."
How stress can cause thyroid problems “When you are under stress it’s more than just a feeling you have to deal with. It actually causes your adrenal glands to release a hormone named cortisol. While limited amounts of this are fine, too much can interrupt the production of thyroid hormones that are needed for your body to function normally. That’s why most people notice this when they start to experience various symptoms, like trouble losing weight and constant fatigue.Unfortunately as those adrenal glands continue to produce cortisol (which is common for individuals dealing with chronic stress), the entire body, including the thyroid, can begin to shut down. This can even lead to a weakened immune system, which can leave you more prone to autoimmune diseases that also disrupt the functionality of the thyroid.“
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.
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".
Stress Makes You Sweat—And Stink; “We sweat more when we're stressed and we sweat differently, studies show. Anxiety causes sweat to be produced from the apocrine glands, which secrete a thicker, milkier sweat than our endocrine glands. The downside: sweat from the apocrine glands tends to stink more.”
Why You Smell Worse When You're Anxious: “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."
What you need to know about stress and varicose veins: “When we become stressed, our blood pressure rises. When blood pressure remains elevated, either consistently or chronically, our blood vessels weaken. This inhibits circulation, causing blood to pool in the veins. This pooling can result in varicose veins.”
Stress Could Lead to Disability; "Are the strains and demands of modern society commonly exceeding human ability?" That's the question asked by the authors of this study of more than 17,000 working adults in Stockholm, Sweden. The scientists found that even mild stress can lead to long-term disability or an inability to work. Those who experienced mild stress were 70% more likely to collect disability benefits.”
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.”
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."
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.
Study shows stress can speed up vision loss: "Retinal tissue is subjected to stress, such as increased intraocular pressure, which causes epigenetic and transcriptional alterations akin to those associated with ageing. The authors of the study demonstrated that repetitive stress caused the eye tissue to age more quickly in younger retinal tissue. The discoveries might make it possible to target and maintain cellular activity in glaucoma patients."
Vision loss linked with anxiety, depression - and vice versa: "Older adults with impaired vision are more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression, and older adults with symptoms of anxiety or depression are more likely to develop vision impairment, according to findings from the U.S. National Health and Aging Trends Study."
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