Stress and Anxiety
Stress can affect anyone, and in small doses it is not necessarily a bad thing. Essentially stress is needed to help us to respond and cope. However, stress can sometimes become chronic and excessive and then our adrenal and nervous systems cannot restore their function. This abundance of stress can affect both our psychological and physical well-being.
When stress becomes chronic, your immune system becomes less sensitive to cortisol, and since inflammation is partly regulated by this hormone, this decreased sensitivity heightens the inflammatory response and allows inflammation to get out of control. Inflammation, in turn, is a hallmark of most diseases, from diabetes to heart disease, cancer, and dementia. . It's not so surprising then that researchers have found links between stress and ailments ranging from physical pain and chronic inflammation, immune system and to poor gut health (which is critical to maintaining mental and physical health). The nervous system that controls the digestive system is as large as that of the brain.
The ways in which physical symptoms of stress are managed can also make the world of difference on how it impacts on both physical health and functioning. There are a number of ways to help cope with physical symptoms of stress in our daily lives. Stress management by Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness and muscle relaxation techniques have all been shown to reduce stress.
It must be borne in mind that the nutritional demand from stress and its impacts (say on sleeping disorders), require more B vitamins and magnesium. There are many natural herbal and homeopathic remedies that may be of assistance in providing all natural stress relief. In this respect support for the adrenal system by particular B vitamins, magnesium and an adaptogenic herb like Rhodiola can make a difference. Bach flower remedies can help cope with short periods of stress or unwanted thoughts that interrupt sleep, and with apprehension of future events.
Some herbal remedies recommended for all natural stress relief are St John’s Wort, Passiflora , Avena Sativa and Valerian. Theses herbal remedies all serve to relieve anxiety, stress worry and tension .5-HTP is an amino acid that is a precursor to the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin and can have benefit where anxiety and sleeplessness are proving acute and chronic.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorders, Phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - OCD in Adults and OCD in Children, Stress Disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Anxiety Disorders due to known physical causes. A person may display physical signs of anxiety – such as profuse sweating, or they may appear completely normal. Anxiety is a conscious or unconscious worry of what might become but often premeditated on what has happened in the past. Nutritional imbalances make a profound difference to anxieties and to imbalances in neurotransmitters which can be the driving force for underlying anxieties.
The human body is programmed to sense and respond to danger and threats. When presented with a new situation, the brain searches for a stored memory of the event. If you have no stored memory for it, you are suddenly faced with the unknown and your body reacts chemically, by changing to what is known as flight or fight mode. This is when a person most often experiences physical symptoms like a racing heart, sweaty palms and a dry mouth.
If you have a stored memory for the event – and it was a negative memory then your brain will reference this memory and react accordingly, producing the physical signs of anxiety. Panic attacks are an extreme version with shaking or chest palpitations and often these extreme reactions are because the nutritional feedback for the nervous system do not have enough control. Extra Magnesium supplementation is a relevant remedy.
These physical symptoms are the body’s healthy response to a feared event, object or situation. They are caused by an increase in stress hormones (e.g. adrenalin) which increase the heart rate to provide more oxygen to the muscles and the brain and cause breathing to become faster to get the oxygen into the lungs. The problem arises when this flight or fight reaction of the body takes place when there is no actual danger – or when it is out of proportion to the actual situation that is occurring.
It is important to remember that fear and anxiety are not the same. Fear is a direct, focused response to a specific event or object, and the person is consciously aware of it. Anxiety, on the other hand, is often unfocused, vague, and hard to pin down to a specific cause. This may be because the anxious individual is not consciously aware of the original source of the feeling. It is also important to distinguish between anxiety as a feeling or experience, and an anxiety disorder as a diagnosed condition. A person may feel anxious without having an anxiety disorder. Similarly, a person facing a clear and present danger or a realistic fear is not usually considered to be in a state of anxiety. Emotional blockages which can affect anxiety can have other impacts on health.