Stress Related Illnesses 

By Val Silver

When listing stress related illnesses, one could make a very sound argument that, genetic defects aside, illnesses caused by stress of some kind make up just about any ailment you can think of. 

Of course, thinking of the connection between stress and diseases in this way means that we are not just considering the effects of mental stress, but physical stress as well. 

For an example of how stress makes you sick consider this. A main effect of chronic mental stress is a less active immune system because when your brain perceives danger, your immediate survival is a higher priority than your long-term survival.  While your physical resources are being directed toward fright, flight and freeze, bacteria and viruses have a greater chance of escaping detection by your immune system and making you sick. A weakened or malfunctioning immune system is behind many health disorders.

Have you ever had a bout of the flu or a bad cold after several weeks of being really stressed out? If so, you have experienced first hand how stress makes you sick. 

The mental stress and diseases link is also suspect in some cancers. This disease is fast on the rise thanks to our modern lifestyle and/or a major trauma. Dr. Hamer, creator of German New Medicine, discovered in his research that most of his cancer patients suffered an emotional trauma three years prior to their diagnosis. Cancer risks can also increase due to physical stress factors. 

How might physical and mental stress contribute to diseases like cancer, diabetes or heart disease?

Our cells are stressed due to the many chemicals in our food, air, water and living environments. This creates a toxic environment for them to live in and inhibits their ability to function optimally. Add to toxic exposure DNA damaging radiation, electro-magnetic waves, food devoid of nutrients needed to detoxify and nourish, poor sleep habits and lack of exercise. Poor eating and lifestyle habits increase inflammation.  

Combine that physical stress with frequent mental stress which causes excess cortisol production instead of the production of cell-repairing DHEA. Too much cortisol causes higher blood sugar, suppressed immunity and constricted blood flow to the torso.

Several conditions worsened by mental stress include:

  • asthma - emotional distress, cigarette smoke and allergens cause flare ups. 
  • diabetes - stress raises blood sugar directly as well as increasing cravings for sugar spiking carbohydrates.
  • obesity - stress causes you to eat more, especially carbohydrates and excess cortisol contributes to belly fat deposits.
  • GI problems - your digestive system slows when you are stressed which can exacerbate GERD, indigestion, IBS, and ulcers.
  • premature aging - the effects of stress cause the telomeres protecting your chromosomes to shorten quicker. Studies suggest this can cause you up to 17 years of life, not to mention looking and feeling older, and being more susceptible to stress related illnesses.
  • auto-immune disorders - chronic stress not only suppresses your immune system, but over time it can cause it to malfunction and turn on your own body. Eating foods you are sensitive to can also stress your immune system.
  • cardiovascular issues - Research suggests a relationship between heart disease and stress. When you are stressed your blood vessels constrict, limiting blood flow. The adrenaline makes your heart pump harder and faster. Experiencing a sudden onset of mental distress expressed by rage or other strong emotion can lead to heart attack or chest pains. 

Put all this together and you can see how you have a perfect recipe for illness caused by stress.

Long-term effects of distress also affect mental health.  Hitting the stress button too often can cause you to feel worn out mentally and physically. You churning thoughts and high levels of stress hormones can cause insomnia as well as  feelings of anxiety and depression.  When you continue to feed this cycle, you may find yourself in a spiral that seems impossible to turn around. 

There is hope for improving all these stress related illnesses. Knowing how stress makes you sick and affects your health, and what you can do about it, can help you prevent and improve a wide variety of illnesses caused by stress or made worse by it.  The most important step is taking responsibility for all aspects of your well-being. To keep destructive, chronic mental distress at bay, make natural stress relieving techniques a regular part of your health program.

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