Part Two: Stress & It’s affects

Welcome back to Dr. Hebdon’s 3-part series on stress. Last blog we talked about briefly what stress is and what causes stress within the nervous system. Now we are going to discuss what happens to the body when we have stress.

So, continuing about the sympathetic nervous system and stress.

When we continually have stressors in our world: work, traveling, the new or other world events, we are engaging our sympathetic nervous system. When we feel fear or anger a lot happens in our bodies. For example, our nervous system decides that we need to quicken our heart rate, and that we need to quicken our breathing. Our blood vessels constrict to drive blood to important organs. This also causes our blood pressure to increase. Blood and energy are shunted away from organs that will not be used. That includes our digestive and reproductive organs. Because let’s face it, we will not be needing these if we are about to fight another animal or human that is a danger to us. Another thing that happens is that our blood glucose increases. This occurs because we need more energy to vital organs like our heart and our muscles so we can prepare to run if need to.

This is normal. However, if we are put into this state over and over, this is disruptive. Imagine if a few times a day we are shunting blood away from our digestive system and overloading our vessels with sugar while simultaneously increasing our blood pressure. We are not meant to have this be our normal. It is when we do this repeatedly and the parasympathetic nervous system or rest and digest becomes very out of balance with the sympathetic that we get chronic stress and subsequently disease pathology.

Have you ever heard that if you have higher stress, you are at more risk for stroke or heart disease? This is exactly why. There are many other diseases associated with stress and chronic stress including:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Infertility
  • IBS, and other digestive disruptions
  • Lung pathologies including sinus and allergy related
  • Autoimmune diseases, and decrease immune response
  • Increased symptoms of menopause, and increased symptoms of premenstrual
  • Skin rashes and acne
  • Sleep disturbances and tiredness
  • And this is just to name a few!

As a chiropractor I love to adjust my patients. But this is not all that I do. I also like to look at what the patient is doing outside of my office to their life to change their nervous system function and the other organ systems. This includes trying to give strategies to lower stress so that certain diseases never happen.

In the last part of this three-part blog series, we will look at ways that you can make your life less stressed. Stay tuned!

References

Salleh M. R. (2008). Life event, stress and illness. The Malaysian journal of medical sciences : MJMS, 15(4), 9–18.
Everly, G.S., Lating, J.M. (2013). The Anatomy and Physiology of the Human Stress Response. In: A Clinical Guide to the Treatment of the Human Stress Response. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5538-7_2
Vingerhoets, A. J. (1985). The role of the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system in stress and the emotions. International Journal of Psychosomatics.
Muscatell, K. A., & Eisenberger, N. I. (2012). A social neuroscience perspective on stress and health. Social and personality psychology compass, 6(12), 890-904.
Cannon, W. B. (1953). Bodily changes in pain, hunger, fear, and rage. Boston, MA: Branford.
Everly, G. S., Jr. (1979a). Strategies for coping with stress: An assessment scale. Washington, DC: Office of Health Promotion, Department of Health and Human Services.

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