The Effects of Chronic Stress on the Body
In life, it is safe to say that everyone faces stress at one point or another. Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to both good and bad life occurrences. The reaction in your body known as stress can be considered both harmful and helpful to your health and safety. Stress works by releasing hormones and increasing your heart and breathing rates. This allows your brain more oxygen, giving you the optimal brain function you need in order to respond to a problem. When dealing with tough situations, stress can help assist you in coping easier. Stress may be triggered by countless things that happen within your work life or home life. Things such as divorce, death of a loved one, physical illness, or traumatic stress (often caused by war, disaster or a violent attack) can keep the stress levels elevated in the body for long periods of time. This puts the body in survival mode in order to manage things appropriately.
Your central nervous system (CNS) controls your “fight or flight” response. When someone or someone fearful or threatening is observed, your CNS instantly controls the body, telling it what to do and calling attention to all the resources your body has in order to do it. When it goes away, your CNS allows all systems in the body return to a normal state. However, when the CNS doesn’t return to normal as it should, the stressor will not go away and can take a toll on your body. Recently, the American Medical Association stated that stress is the basic cause of more than 60% of all human illnesses and disease. It is also noted as the number one proxy killer disease today. Here are some of the ways chronic stress can affect your body:
- Nervous System Problems: Headaches, dizziness, chronic fatigue, ADD/ADHD, anxiety, irritability, anger, depression, decreased energy levels, mood and appetite, and panic disorders.
- Mouth Problems: Teeth grinding and jaw tension.
- Respiratory and Cardiovascular System Problems: Increased heart rate, strokes, heart disease, hypertension, Type I and Type II Diabetes, and arrhythmias.
- Digestive System Problems: Digestive disorders, heart burn, upset stomach, abdominal pain, and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Muscular System Problems: Muscle tension, fibromyalgia, and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
- Sexuality and Reproductive System Problems: Weight gain, obesity, irregular menstrual cycle, and decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction and infertility.
- Unhealthy Addictions: Alcoholism, suicide, drug addiction, tobacco addiction, and other harmful behaviors.
If you believe you may be facing large life stressors and your body is not able to properly deal with them, make an appointment with your Doctor of Chiropractic. These stresses can take a toll on your body but chiropractic care can help calm the body and relieve unwanted and unwarranted stress. Your Doctor of Chiropractic can help you with the counseling, dietary and lifestyle changes you need in order to live a happy and stress free life.