Chronic stress and elevated cortisol (hormone) levels increase the risk of depression, mental illness and lower life expectancy. Excessive hormone cortisol levels also interfere with blood pressure, cholesterol, increase weight gain, lower immune function & bone density, learning & memory and heart disease.
There are 2 types of stress, the good is beneficial stress known as eustress. The bad is detrimental stress known as distress. The stress hormone cortisol is released in response to a fear or stress via the adrenal glands as part of the fight-flight response. There has to be a physical release of that fight-flight response or your cortisol levels build up in the blood and this can cause havoc on your mind and body with an elevation of cortisol levels.
Physiological and psychological stress can alter your DNA and control of your Gene’s. Distress creates a vicious cycle of fear, anxiety & phobias which can lead to depression, PTSD or suicide if left uncontrolled and untreated.
Your brain’s fear centre is called the amygdala. Stress increases the size, activity level & number of neural connections in the amygdala. This makes you more fearful and the flow on effect of distress can cause anxiety & depression causing a vicious cycle or even more chronic stressors leading to PTSD and suicide.
So let’s take a look at chronic stress or distress in mental health disorders which include; fear, anxiety, phobias, PTSD/C-PTSD and suicide, & how distress can cause these mental health issues.
Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of harm, pain or danger. Fear is excessive relinquishing of your personal power.
Here are some signs and symptoms of fear:
Muscle tension & pain
Goosebumps, sweating & blushing
Breathing quickly & increased heart rate (hyperventilation)
Increased blood glucose ( hyperglycemia)
Butterflies in the tummy ( dyspepsia) and
Anxiety is an excessive, intense & persistent worry & fear about everyday situations.
Some signs and symptoms of anxiety could be:
Feeling nervous, anxious, on edge or obsessive thinking
Worrying, restless and trouble relaxing
Irritable and annoyed
Feeling afraid or hot and cold flushes
Avoiding situations that make you feel anxious
Chest pain or panic attacks.
Different phobias are a type of anxiety disorder, being persistent and excessive fear of an object or situation.
What are some signs & symptoms of phobias?
Your fears are persistent, exaggerated or irrational
Panic attacks, dizziness, pounding heart or fainting
Nausea, sweating and choking
Avoiding situations where you have to face the phobia
Isolation out of fear of your phobia.
Post traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental health disorder triggered by a terrifying and traumatic event like an earthquake or accident or a war.
C-PTSD is more complex and is just as terrifying and traumatic, however it is experienced over a long period of time of being exposed to an ongoing event such as sexual, physical, psychological, emotional or even religious abuse.
Signs and symptoms of PTSD;
Recurring memories, vivid images, nightmares and insomnia
Sweating, heart palpitations & panic attacks
Wound up, overly alert and hypervigilant
Brain fog, detached, lack of interest and emotionally numb
deliberate avoidance associated with traumatic event
Anxious, depressed, substance abuse & suicidal ideation
Long term exposure to emotional, physical, psychological and even financial abuse
A history of physical and sexual abuse.
PTSD is also linked to high glucocorticoid levels ( stress hormones ) leading to alzheimers disease. In fact war veterans are twice as likely to suffer from age related alzheimer’s disease. We have a blog coming up on stress and alzheimers so keep an eye out for that!
Suicide; is the act of a person intentionally taking their own life!
Warning signs of suicide;
Self harm and self injury
Giving away sentimental or expensive possessions
Substance abuse and poor diet
Insomnia, social withdrawal, being distracted
Anger, uncharacteristic reckless behavior
Not maintaining appearance or personal hygiene
Persistent low mood, hopelessness, saying they feel worthless or alone, failing to see a future, believe they are a burden, dont feel like they belong anywhere
Talking about their death or wanting to die.
Vulnerable factors that increase the likelihood of suicide:
Physical illness or disability
Ongoing exposure to bullying
Access to harmful means such as medication or a weapon
History or substance abuse
History of mental health conditions
Previous suicide attempts
Legal or disciplinary problems
Recent death or suicide of a family member, friend or partner or
I am sure that many of you that are reading this blog can relate to mental health issues that are directly related to chronic stress!
Here are some ways that you can help to reduce stress;
Deep breathing & meditation
Sit in a quiet place, if you want you can have some relaxing music playing in the background. Take in a deep breath, hold for 4 seconds, slowly exhale all of the air from your stomach & lungs. Repeat this exercise until you are feeling more relaxed and less stressed.
Focus on your senses
What you touch, taste, hear, see or smell, find what works for you as each person is unique with sensory experiences. It may be cuddling a pet, smelling a perfume, chewing on gum, listening to your favorite music, or watching a funny movie.
Or it could be enjoying the beauty of nature, burning a candle, wrapping up in a warm blanket, sipping a hot cup of herbal tea, dancing around in your lounge or trying singing or humming a song. By focusing on your senses will help to lower your stress levels.
Take a hot bath or shower , or get a massage, stretching your muscles, going to yoga, and getting a good nights sleep.
Eating a healthy well balanced diet regularly, try avoiding alcohol, smoking, drugs, reducing your sugar & caffeine. Dont skip meals as this can affect your mood, which can increase stress.
Talk with people that you trust like family and close friends, your doctor or go to therapy. Reach out and ask someone to text you every night before bedtime to see if your ok, or say, i havent been doing so well lately can you text me each morning to see if I’m okay, it will really help, or say, I have been sad lately so can you check in with me during the day to make sure I dont fall off the face of the earth ( with an emoji). Try counseling, family therapy, emdr, cbt, tapping or some medication taken short term. Social interactions help to regulate the nervous system. Recognize when you are stressed, listen to your body, observe your insides, your tummy may be upset or you may feel uptight, and listen to your breathing, these are great indicators that your stress levels are on the rise.
Set aside time for the things you like to do, leisure time, hobbies, arts & crafts, sports or socializing. But also set aside you time, time for self, time to relax and reflect.
Practice gratitude, reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, try positive affirmations & look at things with a positive attitude. Try journaling, you will be quite surprised at how much stuff you can get out of your mind and when you look back at what you have written later on down the road you can see just how far you have come.
Learn how to say NO, or I cant right now. It is very freeing and empowering! It takes time and lots of practice, try it on a sales rep that comes to your front door or to that annoying salesperson on the end of your phone! You dont have to explain yourself or feel guilty, a simple clear NO will do.
Set reasonable standards and firm boundaries.
Keep a sense of humor, even if it’s for your own sanity.
Some people even fake it til they make it, just whatever works for you.
Don’t over commit yourself, prioritize tasks, delegate responsibilities, and learn to manage your time better.
You may only be able to take baby steps at the beginning and that is okay.
If you can and feel comfortable to do so then Express your feelings instead of bottling them up, be willing to compromise, and dont try to control the uncontrollable.
If you tend to be overly emotional, angry, agitated or worked up, you will respond better to activities that quieten you down to relieve stress.
If you tend to be withdrawn, feeling down or alone & depressed then you will respond well to activities that are energizing and stimulating to relieve that stress.
If you tend to feel frozen, isolated or stuck then try physical movements that engages both arms & legs to help your nervous system become unstuck from that freeze stress state.
And if you tend to be a people pleaser and say yes all the time to diffuse conflict, to feel more secure in a relationship or to earn approval of others then you will respond well to surrounding yourself with honest authentic people. Reach out to someone you really do trust even if it’s to say, Hi, can you please check in with me (date/or everyday) just to make sure I’m ok. This will help to relieve alot of physical and emotional stress, and calm down your nervous system while you take time to reevaluate your friendships/ relationships and to remove those that are toxic in your life.
Chronic stress and magnesium deficiency
Chronic stress is a big magnesium thief, & magnesium deficiency increases susceptibility to the physiological damage produced by chronic stress. Talk about a vicious cycle!!
We can all benefit from using magnesium oil spray to help alleviate the many issues related to mental health such as muscle pain and tension, insomnia, headaches & depression, even inflammatory arthritis problems to name a few.
This will help relieve some of the copious amounts of stress in our body and to prevent further magnesium loss or deficiency.
To purchase a bottle of Lynnys magnesium oil spray, go to the top of the page and click on the shop now link. Christmas is fast approaching and with that comes alot of extra stressors so now is a great time to order a bottle of magnesium oil.