Our life has become full of stress and strain. In every profession stress or no stress that is the question. If we perform any action we are under stress if we do not perform, we are under stress. We are often reminded of shakespeares famous lines:
Time is out of joint
O, cursed spite, Ever I was
Born to set it right.
Any external or internal influence that has an adverse effect on the correct functioning of the body and brain can be due to stress. These influences include physical factors such as disease or injury or mental ones conflicts and anxiety. Some degree of stress is required to keep people alert. Problems develop when a person can no longer handle the emotional, mental and physical stresses encountered in everyday life. Stress may not be the cause of many disease but it can be a contributory cause to many ailments and physical disorders. Chronic stress can be the cause of many disease and disorders, stress produces changes in some as well as in psyche. Different systems of the body are affected to a greater or less degree. The various symptoms can be classified into:
- Physical, b. Emotional, c. Psychological. Physical symptoms are the conspicuous complaints in majority of the patients. Some of the symptoms are fatigue, insomnia, feeling tired, anorexia, aloss of the body weight, indigestion, not flushes, vague aches and pains in the body, tingling and numbness, urine frequency, menstrual changes, sexual diminishes, cardiovascular disturbances like pain in the chest, palpitation, headaches, giddiness, blurred vision, excessive perspiration etc.
Emotional symptoms are many and vary from person to person. Those who are sensitive and emotional are more prone to stress. Some of the emotional symptoms are despondency or gloom, lack of interest in activities, lack of confidence, irritability, fears haunting ideas, anxiety, feelings of guilt and remorse of sin, inferiority complex, feelings of worthlessness. Psychological symptoms evolve gradually and remain unnoticed for sometime. Some common psychological symptoms are indecisiveness, neglect of work and duty, forgetfulness, impaired concentration, delusions of various types, negativism and stupor, agitation, shunning social responsibilities, illusions and hallucinations, worries, anxieties, paranoid etc.
Lot of research has been done on neurotransmitters. Recently the scope of investigations has widened to include changes in number of important hormones. Most endocrine systems are controlled by the biogenic amines, norepinephrine serotonic and dopamine all play a part in the timing and regulation of release of hormones, and the hormones themselves modulate the nerve cell activity of these neurotransmitters. Studies have shown that hormone secretion is influenced by neurotransmitters that are in limbic centers and conversely, alternations in neurotransmitters functions effect hormone secretion. Mood changes occur in association with endocrine disorders caused by stress and depression. Studies show that people who suffer from diseases of the thyroid and adneral glands have many symptoms similar to those seen in stressed and depressed states. Hyperthyroidism can present many of the features of which are similar to major stress and depression. Another hormonal disorder called cushing syndrome is characterized by excessive cortsol secretion and can produce symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite and insomnia. These are all common symptoms of stress and depression and are associated with a disturbance and pituitary glands.
The hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal axis is the endocrine system most extensively studied 50 years ago. Dr. watter Cannon discovered that the neurottansmitters epinephrine was released in response to stress. He made this finding the basic of his hypothesis that this substance mobilized the organism for fight or flight. Some years later Dr. Hans Selye called attention to stress of the adrenocortical hormone cortisol. While he was concerned chiefly with responses physical stress. The neuroendocrine system that regulates the release of cortisol helps the body remain flexible so that it can respond appropriately to changing environmental conditions whether it be alterations in the day night cycle, season changes, stressful life events or sudden threat to survival. This system works to establish an intricate moment to moment balance by a series of feedback functions that are orchestrated and nervous system. For example if a person encounters a man with a gun in a darkened halfway the eyes relay the threat to the brain, and the brain registers fear or anger. The fearful event is translated into chemical signals that move through a complex path way that leads through the limbic system. Thus this emotional response to a stressful or dangerous specific neurochemical response. Psychological stress was a powerful stimulant of cortisol levels were measured in normal subjects exposed to experimental psychological stress, as well as in people whose real life circumstances involved extreme stress. It was discovered that anticipation of any frightening or complicated task, including parachute jumping, hospitalization or landing an aeroplane is a potent stimulant of cortisol.
Sometimes stress becomes cause of a disease and some times a disease or disorder physical or mental creates stress.
In this age of Anxiety and Hurry Hypertension disease is increasing rapidly in young and old. This disease can cause stress and stress can be a contributory cause of this disease. Blood Pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vassels when the capillaries are weakened then heart has to be overactive and give extra pressure to circulate blood through them. This extra pressure is called hypertension or high blood pressure. The blood pressure varies from person to person and in the same person from time to time. Rise in pressure frequently occurs during emotional excitement when the blood pressure remains above the normal range it is known as High blood pressure. One of the causes of Hypertension can be stress or depression. The mechanism of death from high blood pressure is usually one of three varieties heart failure, a vascular accident in the brain or kidney failure. It is more common amongst the urban population as compared to the rural population. Most people are unaware of this disease and it comes to notice when a person goes to the doctor for checkup. Stress and depression can increase the blood pressure. The longer it persists, the greater is the damage done without the person being aware of it.
Stress can be a major cause of acidity or Hyperacidity. Oxygen when being burnt in the digestive process, turns into carbonic acid gas. There are number of gastric glands by the side of the blood vessels throughout the alimentary system. These glands are motivated with carbonic acid gas. When food comes down in the stomach, these glands grow active and there is profuse secretion of digestive juices. This juice is acid. When food is taken under mental stress or with poor or no appetite, these glands are forced to overwork with the chemical help of these secretions, the food that cannot be assimilated passes to the duodenum and small intestines where an enhanced process of burning starts up and pancreatic juices play the main role here. To assist the pancreatic juice other secretions from the subsidiary glands like bile etc. combing here.When this assistance also fails to complete the job, the undigested matter decomposes and eventually mixes with the waste bile in the intestines and turns into virulent acid poison vitiating the blood. When this acid poison pushes upward, burning of chest and throat is reported. It neurtralises the alkaline property of blood and creates ulceration in the stomach and duodenum. Nerves, muscles and other vital organs soon get poisoned and weakened as soon as the vital fluid is contaminated by this virulent ptomain and toxin of rotten acids damaging the system. This acidity in the maturing process causes gastralgia, duodenitis, duodenal ulcers and biliary colic.
Mental stress not only causes heart problems but also results in a three fold increase in the risk of death if one is already suffering from some heart problem. A study published in issue of circulation shows that psychological stress can inhibit the flow of blood to the heart, a condition called ischemia and increase the risk of death for those who are suffering from coronary artery disease. Dr. David Sheps in his research on stress and Heart has mentioned that Patients who had ischemia in response to mental stress had a three fold increase in the risk of death compared to people without mental stress. Here some distinction is to be made between acute stress and chronic stress. Normal individuals may be at higher risk for cardiovascular events. If they are exposed to certain kinds of chronic stress such as depression but not if they are exposed to one or two-time stressor. Individuals with cardio- vascular problems may be at higher risk from both types of stress.
Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder in which the pancreas fail to produce enough effective insulin. Insulin is a hormone that removes sugar from the blood, enabling it to be stored in the liver and muscles. Without this process, glucose levels in the blood rise alarmingly and body cells lack energy. Cells use fats and proteins as an energy source, and this produces toxic waste products called ketones. If the blood sugar is allowed to remain uncontrolled for a longer period and sugar is excreted by the kidney through urine and also when vital fluids, due to malfunctioning of the kidneys, escape through urine excess, concertration of sugar in urine damages the filtering functioning of the kidneys.
Sometimes mental symptoms such as fear psychosis, Neurosis, Stress can be detected in diabetic patients. In some acute and chronic cases, thinking gets perverted. The patients feels emotionally upset and is not able to attend social functions etc. It is necessary for the diabetic not to feel mentally tense, excited or disturbed.
Hardly there will be any person who has not experienced the pangs of headaches either simple or chronic primary or secondary. Tension and stress have become part of our life. Tension in the popular language can be defined as an excessive demand on physical and mental energy resulting in anxiety, anger, distress, fear, frustration and irritability. All these cause a rise in blood pressure and headache. Today, in every walk of life, we undergo a little or big amount of tension and stress. Be it a housewife, a working woman, a professional, an employee, a farmer, a business executive, a teacher or a student. A stressful life style resulting from day today problems of finance, education, family, work, travel, insecurity of job all these can result in temporary or chronic headache. Migraine is a very severe throbbing headache usually on one side of the head, that is often accompanied by disturbances in vision, nausea, and vomiting. Migraine is a common condition and seems to be triggered by any one or several of various factors. These include anxiety, tension, stress, fatigue, loud noises, dszzling light and certain foods. Migraine may involve constriction followed by dilation of blood vessels in the brain and an outpouring of fluid into surrounding tissues or a disturbance of the balance serotoning, a neurotransmitter. Another type of headache called sex- headache occurs more in men than in woman at the time of orgasm. Sometimes due to sex-disorders and coital defects this type of headache can occur. Sexual stress and sexual anxiety can also give rise to this type of headache. Another type of headache called nodular headache the patient feels radiating pain in the head accompanied by nodular swelling in the spienius, frontails, trapizius and other muscles. This type of headache can appear anytime and last for hours. Temporary or chronic stress can give rise ti this type of headache. Then there is Horton headache. It is more or less the same as migraine. The patient gets shooting pain in one part of the head. But the attacks occur infrequently and the pain lasts for an hour or writers get this type of headache due to stress or tension. Another type of headache called Neurologic headache can be due to stress or tension. Neuralgia means nerve pain. In this type of headache, the patient feels pain of a severe or stabbing character. Degeneration neuralgia is caused by the degenative changes in the nerve or its central origin. The patient feels piercing and severe sudden pain in cheek or jaw on one side. The pain lasts for a couple of minutes and the pain is aggravated by talking, chewing or exposure to wind.