According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 60 to 80 percent of visits to primary care doctors may be related to stress, yet only 3 percent of patients receive stress management counseling. Why is it that so few people are getting help from their health care practitioners when it comes to stress?
There are probably many reasons, but one explanation is that stress is personal. It takes time for a practitioner to understand what is stressful for each patient and to find solutions that work for each individual. Though the medical system is changing, conventional medicine still treats disease in isolation, rather than looking at a person's whole health picture. A more holistic approach to symptoms and disease is becoming more common because so many of our health issues are rooted in stress on the body.
We all know things like traffic jams, lack of sleep, too much sugar, long hours at work or unpredictable situations can tax our bodies, but there are other factors that can increase the stress hormone cortisol that may be surprising. Listed below are some stressors with their corresponding symptoms.
• Food sensitivities: Symptoms may include bloating, gas, brain fog, fatigue, joint pain, diarrhea.
• Nutrient deficiencies: Symptoms may include leg cramps, chocolate cravings, hair loss, fatigue, brittle nails and hair.
• Hormonal imbalance: Symptoms may include irritability, carbohydrate cravings, fatigue, hot flashes and/or night sweats, irregular periods.
• Too much exercise: Symptoms may include feeling depleted after exercise, fatigue, missing menstrual periods.
• Infrequent meals and snacks: Symptoms may include lightheadedness, dizziness, irritability between meals.
Each time your body has to compensate for the losses associated with one of the above stressors, you put more strain on your body. And in many cases, the adrenal glands (your stress responders) release cortisol to manage the stress. Yet increased cortisol is associated with many diseases including Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, insulin resistance, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. So if we could figure out what is stressing us, we could potentially help prevent some of the most common health problems including many of those which are directly related to kidney disease.
Emotional Stress -- Impossible to Change?
Emotional stress is often the hardest to solve for patients and practitioners. Whether it's a troubled relationship, a death in your family, an unfortunate job situation or historical trauma that hasn't been processed, there are many emotional stressors your body has to contend with on a daily basis. And even if it seems like the stress is only occurring in your mind, your adrenals are still pumping out cortisol to manage the situation.
So how can we change emotional stress? Is it even possible? In many cases it is, but it takes work, and often a new way of thinking. Your thoughts can be very powerful in influencing positive thinking and daily affirmations which can make an enormous difference in your life. You might also consider referring to KidneyBuzz Personal Counseling section and/or talking with a counselor about your emotional heath.