Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Stress is killing me... Literally

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Stress is the body's reaction to harmful situations -- whether they’re real or perceived. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as "fight-or-flight,” or the stress response. During stress response, your heart begins to race, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressurerises and your senses sharpen. Your Body is ready to react, to “fight” or “fly” away from whatever is threatening it.
Behind the scenes, your body releases a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones rouse the body to action and provide additional Strength, Speed, Stamina, quicker reaction time are and sharpen your focus.
Stress means different things to different people. What causes stress in one person may be of little concern to another. Some people are better able to handle stress than others. And, not all stress is bad. In small doses, stress can motivate you accomplish tasks and prevent you from getting hurt. For example, stress is what gets you to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting the car in front of you. That's a good thing.
For some of us, stress has become so common that it is a way of life. Our bodies are designed to handle small doses of stress We are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without ill consequences.(1). However,
All of us deal with stress differently, our bodies handle stress in different ways. However, some of the symptoms of stress are:
Stress Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive Symptoms
Emotional Symptoms
Memory Problems

Concentration Problems
Irritability / Short Temper
Poor Judgment
Feeling Overwhelmed/Losing Control
Loneliness / Isolation
Racing Thoughts
Constant Worry
Difficulty relaxing
Physical Symptoms
Behavioral Symptoms
Aches and Pains and muscle tension

Diarrhea / Constipation/Nausea
Changes in appetite (eating more or less)
Chest Pain / Rapid heartbeat/ Rapid breathing
Sleeping too much/Too Little
Sex problems (libido, ED, Impotence)
Isolation/Avoiding others and activities
Frequent Colds
Procrastination/Neglecting Responsibilities
clenched jaw/grinding teeth
Drug Abuse (Alcohol, cigarettes, Drugs)
Dry Mouth, Difficulty Swallowing
Nervous habits (nail biting, smoking, fidgeting, pacing)
Cold or Sweaty Hands and Feet
Low Energy

A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about.
The signs and symptoms of stress overload can be almost anything. Stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways, and everyone experiences stress differently. Not only can overwhelming stress lead to serious mental and physical health problems, it can also take a toll on your relationships at home, work, and school. Ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems.

Potential long-term effects of chronic stress
·       Pain of any kind
·       Heart disease/Heart Attacks
·       Digestive problems (Gerd,Colitis,IBS)
·       Sleep problems
·       High Blood pressure
·       Menstrual Problems
·       Hair Loss
·       Depression /Anxiety
·       Weight problems/Eating Disorders/Obesity
·       Autoimmune diseases
·       Skin conditions (eczema, Acne, psoriasis)
·       Stroke
·       Sexual Issues (Low Libido, ED, Premature Ejaculation)

Stress is a part of life. What matters most is how you handle it. The best thing you can do to prevent stress overload and the health consequences that come with it is to recognize when you are stressed and take care of yourself. It easily creeps up on you and begins to feel normal. Unchecked  chronic stress is undeniably damaging, you have more control over your stress levels than you might think. Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that only compound the problem. You might drink too much to unwind at the end of a stressful day, fill up on comfort food, zone out in front of the TV or computer for hours, use pills to relax, or relieve stress by lashing out at other people. However, there are many healthier ways to cope with stress and its symptoms.

As a potential bio hacker, I am interested in the hormones released by the body in times of stress. If I look at the list of long term effects of chronic stress, I can see several of my chronic health problems on the list. I have also long suspected adrenal burnout.  Let’s take a look at these three hormones a little more in depth.

1.    Adrenaline (also called epinephrine) is the fight or flight hormone, it is produced by the adrenal glands. It is responsible, when combined with norepinephrine for the increased heart-rate, quickened breathing, sweating and tense muscles that enable you to jump to action. It helps you focus and fight or flee as needed, to protect yourself from danger.
2.    Similar to Adrenaline, Norepinephrine is released by the adrenal glands and the brain. It also helps you become more aware, awake and focused. It is almost like a backup system to epinephrine (adrenaline), to ensure your body has a mechanism of fight or flight in times of emergency, even when your adrenal glands may not be functioning properly.
3.    Finally, Cortisol is a steroid hormone, also produced in the adrenal glands. Unlike Adrenaline and norepinephrine, cortisol release is more gradual as it requires the release of CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone) from the brain which activates pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which finally activates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol helps the body optimize itself, increasing certain functions while decreasing others that are not critical in the moment (like digestion, growth functions, sex functions, immunity etc) Cortisol regulates glucose metabolism, blood pressure, insulin release, immune functions and the inflammatory response.

Now, once the perceived threat has subsided, things in our body return to normal. UNLESS, we choose to ruminate on a stressful situation or something we perceive as stressful. If you re-read what cortisol does…. It suppresses certain functions that are not critical at the moment for fight or flight. So, if our heads are constantly stressed, we are going to CREATE our own digestive issues, immunity issues etc.
Cortisol constantly being released in our system is to blame. If we are constantly under stress, perceived or real, we are suppressing all functions that are not required to either fight or flee. Do you see the connection here? Look at the list of potential side effects and health problems associated with chronic stress, we do not need digestion, sleep, skin and hair production, sex and a host of other functions in order to fight or flee, so the long term release of cortisol, constantly overriding these functions is bound to have long term, life altering impacts, like those mentioned above.
Aside from the three hormones I just mentioned, Estrogen and Testosterone have a function in the stress response as well as the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.
I have long suspected adrenal fatigue as a large part of my health issues. For the next few days, I will be exploring these stress hormones and natural ways to reduce them.

Read about regulating cortisol here


(3)   http://stress.about.com/od/generaltechniques/a/aromatherapy_b.htm

Read more about stress and the negative impact it has on your body and other ways to improve your reaction to stress and lessen its impact on your health:

Conquering Cortisol
How to Eat the stress away
Supplementing your Stress Response

Decompressing Ancient Medicine


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