Medical issues can be complicated. And when health problems are chronic, there are often many strands to unravel. A common contributing factor in poor health is stress. How can you know when stress makes you ill?
Stress Is Everywhere, And It’s Increasing
A little stress can be a good thing. If you want to strengthen your muscles. you do it by working out. You intentionally stress your body in order to build it up. But if you overdo your workouts, you harm yourself.
Like a person who is overtraining, many of us are harming ourselves with stress levels that are too high and too chronic. Wearing your stress like a badge of honor is common in many circles. In our fast paced society, many people pride themselves in how stressed out they are.
Americans report ever increasing levels of stress. In fact, according to recent Gallup poll, we are amongst the most stressed out people in the world. Over 55% of us reported feeling stress “over a lot of the day” the day before being asked.
Increased rates of worry, frustration and anger topple our peace of mind. But we pay a stiff physical price for chronic and severe stress. Our bodies suffer and break down under this assault. Seeking relief, we turn to their medical doctors for drugs and surgeries.
Stress vs Anxiety- Is There A Difference?
In everyday speech, we often use the words “stress” and “anxiety” interchangeably.
Generally speaking, an important difference when comparing stress vs. anxiety is that our stress responses tend to abate when we remove ourselves from the tough situation. For example most of us have ways that we unwind after a rough day at work. An hour or so later, our heart rate has slowed, our blood pressure has dropped and our frustration has faded.
It’s different with anxiety. Most clients that I have treated have trouble hitting the off switch on their tension. There minds race, even when they know there is not really anything to worry about. Or their heart pounds and bodies tense up, even when there is no immediate danger.
But truth be told, it can be hard to tell the difference when your stress is chronic or severe
In fact, even medical professionals overlook chronic stress and mistake it’s indicators for other conditions. According to recent study conducted by General Hospital Psychiatry, primary care physicians fail to recognise symptoms of anxiety in 2/3 or all patients. This leaves most patients suffering with the burdens of anxiety for years, many receiving treatment for “physical problems” they may not have.
It also leaves many americans suffering needlessly. Instead of getting treatment for stress and anxiety, they flounder.
When Stress Makes You Ill
Stress and anxiety cause, and exacerbate many problems in our bodies. And of course, if you have ever faced a health problem, you know that doctor’s visits, lab tests, procedures and uncertainty bring are stressful in and of themselves.
Chronic stress places your physical health at risk. It plays an important role in:
- IBS and other GI problems
- Damage to the immune system
- Back problems- implicated in most back pain
- Chronic Fatigue
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Heart Disease
Perhaps the most biggest toll stress exacts is on our sleep.
Loss of sleep, or decrease in sleep quality are amongst the most damaging effects of stress. The CDC reports that 35%, that’s more than 1 out of 3 Americans, report that they don’t get sufficient sleep. Our bodies and minds need time to rest and repair. So, when our sleep is compromised, it creates a cascade of mental and physical health problems.
To sum up, there are effective things that you can do to support your physical health. One of the most important tactics you can take is to learn to manage your stress and anxiety. To learn how I can help you with stress and anxiety treatment, click here.