Do you find it extremely difficult to manage your stress? You are not alone. Statistics compiled in 2012 show that just over 18 percent of adults have an anxiety disorder and most people suffering from one of these disorders usually show signs of one kind or another. Many Americans feel that stress is taking over their lives, and aside from psychological and emotional consequences, research shows it can actually cause physical illness.
A recent study performed at Ohio State University’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research specifically focused on relationship stress between couples married for an average of twelve years. The study found that the participants with high levels of anxiety concerning their relationships had 11 percent higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that has been shown to cause belly fat, and 11 to 22 percent lower levels of T-cells, thus hampering their immune system’s ability fight off infections.
Lisa Jaremka, the lead author of the study points out that these two discoveries are likely linked as cortisol can have a diminishing effect on the production of T-cells. She adds, “A lot of the negative consequences of high cortisol are beyond the common flu. Rather, high levels have been linked to heart problems, sleep problems, depression and other conditions.”
Although this study, to be published in Psychology Today, cannot prove cause and effect between relationship anxiety and impaired immune response, it does signify a strong link. According to Lisa Jaremka, “these concerns about rejection and whether or not you are truly cared for do have physiological consequences that could, in the long-term, negatively affect health.”
Earlier studies have found that stress in general can wreak havoc on the human body. Sufferers of anxiety know this all too well. In many people, feelings of worry and distress often result in sensations of nausea, abdominal pressure, and an overall ‘turned gut’ condition. This is speculated to be a response to the erratic behavior of serotonin and adrenaline in the stressed brain. This hormonal chaos sends messages of fear throughout your nervous system and invokes a ‘fight-or-flight’ response. High anxiety levels also commonly cause mild illness, as the immune system is weakened.
With the scourge of stress and anxiety-related disorders hanging heavy over the heads of so much of the population, many turn to prescription drugs as a way to ease their discomfort. However, before submitting yourself to the dangerous side effects and mood-altering properties of various drugs, give some natural solutions a try. Practitioners of meditation report remarkable success from making this ancient practice part of their daily routines, as do yoga enthusiasts. There are also a number of calming herbs, to be taken by tea or tonic, that can truly help. Chamomile and kava kava root are two herbs that have shown to help ease stress. Whatever may ail you, it is always beneficial to look to a cure in nature first.
-The Alternative Daily