The Dangers of Chronic Stress
In general, people tend to discount what stress is and what it can do to metabolic processes. Too many don’t equate it as the concerning, critical illness that it is. Its long-term damage can wreak havoc in personal life, work-life, finances, and relationships; often when it is too late. And with a 24/7 influx of information and technology, the risk of stress will only continue to increase in Americans. Chronic stress should be taken very seriously, as, over time, it can cause:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Anxiety disorders
- Weakened immune system
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Respiratory infections
- Autoimmune diseases
- Skin irritation
- Sexual dysfunction
- Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD
Most of us are familiar with ‘homeostasis,’ which is the body’s natural balance, but few are well versed in allostasis. Allostasis is the barometer of your body’s reaction to stress with the fight or flight response coming to mind. Each person can only sustain a certain load by external factors such as chronic stressors or by lifestyles (e.g., overeating, poor sleep). The consequences of allostatic overload include many of the common diseases of modern life. During your stress healing, we will determine your unique allostatic load and revolve your stress reduction plan around these specific factors.
When healing your stress, we not only need to know your allostatic load but also your cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone released during a fight or flight response. It determines our response to the stress of everyday living. With normal day-to-day activities (waking up, presenting at work, crying children), most Americans have acute stress episodes. When in a constant hyper-cortisol state, severe metabolic functions can occur, including sleep disturbances, weight gain, bone loss, cardiovascular issues, cancer, and disease. Sustained-release causes increased cortisol levels; if prolonged it can be highly damaging, as the body is never allowed to release its pressure under the circumstances.
High Cortisol will show anxiety, insomnia, sugar cravings, feeling tired but wired, increased belly fat, and bone loss.
Low Cortisol causes love energy, chronic fatigue, food and sugar cravings, low exercise tolerance or recovery, and decreased immune reserves.
Cortisol Level Test
How to test for cortisol stress levels? An accurate determination of cortisol function can only be determined with a four-point salivary diurnal cortisol test. This take-home test includes one day of testing saliva samples which is not detectable through the blood. You will be asked to take saliva samples at four points during the day; immediately upon awakening, before lunch, before dinner, and before bedtime. Your results will give a diurnal curve of when your stress hormone release is happening at these points in correlation with the hormone DHEA.
The most effective way to decrease stress levels is through proper diet, nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress management. With your unique data, your Equilyst Stress Expert will evaluate your main stressors and determine where unnecessary stressors can be removed and/or better managed. The best diet and exercise for your metabolic process and needs will be customized to your needs. Knowing the importance of sleep in combating the effects of stress, we will help you protect your sleep by establishing a sleep plan that includes limiting blue light exposure before bedtime, proper quality and duration of sleep, vitamins and supplements, an awakening routine, and more. Specific adaptogenic herbs have been known to powerfully assist in falling asleep and deep sleep processes as well as balancing cortisol levels and may be prescribed in specific formulations just for you.
Symptoms of Chronic Stress
Wondering if chronic stress is your culprit? If you have one more of these symptoms you may be suffering from chronic stress.
Signs and symptoms of chronic stress can include:
- Irritability, which can be extreme
- Difficulty concentrating, or an inability to do so
- Rapid, disorganized thoughts
- Difficulty sleeping
- Digestive problems
- Changes in appetite
- Feeling helpless
- Perceived loss of control
- Low self-esteem
- Loss of sexual desire
- Frequent infections or illnesses
Stress Management in Dallas
At Equilyst, we focus on your overall well-being; that includes body, mind, and spirit to help you conquer everyday stress. Our scientifically proven complementary therapies work hand-in-hand with your conventional medical care. We will create your healing plan to treat you at the root cause of your stress so you can enjoy a better quality of life.
Managing your stress levels and correcting cortisol imbalance can be a lengthy process, taking, in some cases, six months to a year. It’s best to get evaluated as soon as possible to determine your qualification for treatment. After starting your customized Equilyst Stress Management Plan, many patients may report positive benefits within four to six weeks. If you feel you suffer from chronic fatigue or stress, fill out the form below to schedule your complimentary stress consultation. We look forward to helping you get your life back.