Stress

Overview

Stress is a reaction to any stimulus or challenge that upsets normal function. This reaction may disturb mental or physical function. Some stress is normal, it is the prolonged bouts of stress that can lead to exhaustion and illness, as well as contribute to more serious health problems.

Stress may be due to internal conditions such as illness, pain, or emotional conflict as well as external conditions such death in the family or financial problems. Other causes of stress can be allergic reactions, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, substance abuse, or biochemical imbalances. However, some stress is good when it produces a positive effect - the stress becomes harmful when it converts to distress. Signs of distress are registered in the body as headaches, heart palpitations, pain, constricted throat, clammy hands, weariness, nausea or diarrhea.

Stress Falls into 4 Broad Categories:

  • Physical stress
  • Psychological stress
  • Psychosocial stress (isolation, lack of social support)
  • Psycho spiritual stress (meaningless existence, crisis values)

A person's temperament and learned experiences determines how an individual will react to stress. Adverse reactions may lead to adrenal fatigue, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The propensity to develop disease from the inappropriate handling of stress is twice as likely in a Type A versus a Type B individual. These abnormal reactions may give rise to anxiety, which is characterized by excessive worrying, rising sense of panic, restlessness, shortness of breath, irritability, back pain, hot flashes, loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and fatigue. Stress may also increase infections due to immune-suppression. The reduced immune function is evidenced by a fall in white cell count, shrinkage of the Thymus, and decreased production of lymphocytes. Other conditions that may be a secondary result of stress include allergies, Candidiasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and an increased incidence of asthma occur in these individuals.

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Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • Anxiety
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Over/Under eating
  • Social withdrawal

*This is not a complete list and if you are experiencing these symptoms it is not guaranteed you are stressed.

Affects of Stress on Health

  • Increase susceptibility to infection
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Hormonal imbalances (adrenal, pituitary, thyroid etc.)
  • Stress activates the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems; in addition, hormone-secretion is increased, as well as endorphins. High amounts of Cortisol are secreted. Eventually, under chronic stress the body's stores will be depleted.
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Management Plan

  • Learn effective coping skills (best introduced in childhood)
  • Relaxation therapies - Massage, biofeedback, meditation, saunas, acupuncture, aromatherapy, yoga and Pilates
  • Neurotherapy - Feedback techniques patient is brought into an optimal state and dynamic functioning
  • Exclude nutritional and hormonal deficiencies (always consider hypoglycemia)
  • Exercise - An exercise routine appropriate to the patient's needs. Best exercise is "tissue aerobic exercise" including stretching.
  • Herbal Medicines - Hot high quality green tea, especially with calming agent and mood elevator, Sceletium. Other natural herbs that help overall calming include; chamomile, passionflower (also lowers blood pressure), valerian, American ginseng (good adaptogen, like Sutherlandia), and calming flower essences in house and work environment.
  • Modifying activities - Get enough sleep, laugh more, become aware of your breathing (spend time taking relaxing deep breaths), practice relaxation techniques, take quiet rest periods during the day.
  • Appropriate diet and nutritional supplementation: proper digestion, avoid caffeine and food additives.

Overall, stress needs to be reduced in order to ultimately take care of the symptoms. Dr. Allibone manages each patient on an individualized case so that the root of the problem can be found and managed.

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Learn more about how the Houston Wellness Clinic manages Stress.

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If we fill our hours with regrets of yesterday and with worries of tomorrow, we have no today in which to enjoy our existence. Seize the day, and take control of your health and life. How you are going to live those tomorrows will depend on how you act and choose today. - George Allibone M.D.