The destructive power of uncontrollable stress – Health and Well-being

Who does not know that excess stress or distress, popularly known -among others- as nervousness, can cause a myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accident, or arterial hypertension? But be careful, these are not the only health conditions that can cause “the destructive power of uncontrollable stress.” Its negative action “is much more harmful than most believe, and scientific evidence shows that it is essential to maintain a normal stress rhythm, if you want to be healthy and reach advanced ages, free of disabilities,” confirmed to AIM the Dr. Sergio Schlimovich, a specialist in Endocrinology and Metabolism and an expert in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

What is stress?
In dialogue with this Agency, the expert pointed out that first, it is necessary to understand the difference between “normal stress” and “pathological stress (or distress)” since its system, depending on how it works in one way or another, can cause both positive effects as negative in the body.

What is normal stress?
Schlimovich specified that, in a balanced organism, the “normal stress or eustress” system works basically by releasing a neurotransmitter and a hormone, as final products of a complex interrelated system that is set in motion by external stimuli from the environment. environment or internal to the organism itself. “The first, norepinephrine, is produced primarily in an area of ​​the brain called the brain stem, and the second, cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal gland. Both respond to physiological stimuli and their concentration in the nervous system and blood level, respectively, are within certain normal limits, which is beneficial for the body”.

This is known as the “circadian rhythm” of stress”, which is what allows us to react favorably to some danger, wake up in the morning, be alert or get excited about some event.

From normal stress to pathological stress: the big difference
But, what happens if this normal rhythm of cyclical release of the stress or eustress system is altered, exceeding the maximum tolerable limits?

The specialist affirmed that the result “is completely opposite, and the system loses its control and becomes harmful to the human body. Thus, the normal daily cyclical rhythm of cortisol is replaced by another that loses its rhythmicity, presenting high values ​​of this hormone which, added to the higher daily levels of noradrenaline secretion, causes serious health disorders. We are facing the so-called pathological stress or distaste”.

What are the disorders that cause distress?
An abnormal increase in norepinephrine and cortisol acutely is the direct cause of a myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accident, or hypertensive crisis. But in its chronic form, it produces a sustained inhibition of a group of hormones called “trophic” hormones, which are responsible for maintaining the repair systems of all tissues and organs.

The final result of the inhibition of these hormones (example: growth hormone, luteinizing hormone, estradiol, testosterone, and thyroid hormone, among others), means that the body cannot repair itself properly and excessive wear and tear occurs, which cannot adequately comply with its functions.

On the other hand, the immune system is also compromised in the lack of control of stress, and its normal defense function declines and it cannot face different aggressors, both external and internal. Numerous studies have shown that excess stress, whether chronic or acute, not only exhausts the body, causing psycho-physical fatigue and loss of concentration and memory, but can predispose or trigger other serious illnesses, as well as aforementioned cardiovascular conditions, including infectious diseases, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, and cancer.

What are the causes of excess stress?
Pathological stress has different origins, which can be internal or external; for example:

• Emotional stress: when we have serious problems, disputes, disagreements or conflicts that cause a change in our lives.

• Stress due to illness: an infection, the flu, a fracture, or a simple back pain, are changes in the physical condition that have been shown to generate pathological stress.

• Stress due to environmental factors: climates that are too cold or hot, as well as altitude, can be stressful. Contamination by toxins or poisons, pesticides or electromagnetic fields are also stressful, since they threaten the internal balance of the organism.

• Extreme physical exercise: demanding too much from the body represents a great source of excess stress; It is the case of extreme sports.

How is distress diagnosed?
“There is a clinical aspect, which is detected by observing and questioning the presumably stressed person. It can also be determined through laboratory tests if the stress system is altered; for example, if there are abnormal levels of the circadian rhythm of cortisol. Normally, during the day there are two major peaks in cortisol secretion; one day, higher; and another evening, lower. In general, a disturbance of this pattern of cortisol secretion can be observed in people with distress”, explained the professional.

What should be done to normalize stress?
Schlimovich stressed that in order to normalize stress, “it is first necessary to determine if the factor that causes the distress is internal or external, or both at the same time. After identifying the origin, appropriate measures must be applied for each situation. For example, a person who is chronically exposed to toxic environmental chemicals in the food and water they consume, normally does not know they are there, since they are not perceived. The right thing to do is to take action by consulting a specialist regarding your diet.”

Another example is the distress caused by economic difficulties. Here, “the causal origin solution may not be easy to apply, as in the previous example; but it is possible to minimize the impact of the stressful cause by performing certain activities such as relaxation, regular physical exercises, yoga, dancing, or any other recreational activity that provides pleasure. It is also very useful to put in order the trophic repair hormones and to strengthen the immune system and, sometimes, psychotherapeutic help is necessary to solve other specific problems”.

Recommendations to counteract excess stress
It is essential to recognize that there is a possibility that a certain person has distress, since many often do not perceive it. It is frequent that pathological stress is taken as something normal in a person’s life, and that this does not represent any strange aspect or to be taken into account. Then, it is necessary to become aware of the damage that uncontrolled stress causes to health, not only in its acute aspect, but also in its chronic repercussions.

Once these steps have been carried out, it is necessary to identify the sources of the lack of control and act energetically and consistently to apply the possible solutions. We must not forget that the organism has a limit tolerance to aggressions: and if this is exceeded in its defense and repair capacity, the body will pass the bill, sometimes with irreversible consequences. Therefore, it is better to prevent than the possibility of cure.

More autoimmune diseases
Schlimovich confirmed that “hyperstress is generating an increase in autoimmune diseases, particularly an accelerated increase in thyroid diseases, where the body becomes destabilized and the immune system does not recognize certain structures of the body and begins to generate antibodies against the own organs, in this case, the thyroid, causing the pathologies of this gland so seen today”.
From the AIM Writing.

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