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Stress and Anxiety




Definition

Stress, as defined in the dictionary, is mental and physical tension or strain. When stress occurs in quantities that the system cannot handle, it produces pathological changes. This biological concept of stress was developed by the late Dr. Hans Selye, who intended originally for stress to indicate the cause rather than the effect. But through a linguistic error, he gave the term stress to the effect and then later had to use the word stressor for the cause. Therefore, it seems that outside influences are not the cause of the inward stress, rather the stress is the result of how we, as individuals, handle the influences from outside. Some individuals handle stress with ease, others panic or have an anxiety attack more readily. In other words, stress is a descriptive term for a reaction of how an individual handles pressure and tension, whether from internal or external sources. Constructive handling of pressure and tense situations will result in lesser symptoms of stress and anxiety. Poorly handled or denied reactions will result in greater symptoms of stress and anxiety. Hysteria is extreme reaction to inability to handle situations.


Causes

Rather than causes here, we will be speaking of the outside influences which may or may not trigger a reaction of anxiety within an individual. Each individual has a tolerance level for stress related incidents (possibly differing widely from even siblings). Some of these outside influences are: a high-pressure job, relationships, financial problems, loneliness, crowds, and traffic jams. Everyone feels stressed at one time or another. Long-term stress often occurs when the situation is not relieved; a family member who is physically or mentally ill, a financial status that is far below the family needs, homelessness. Some people even create their own stress; there may be nothing wrong, but they find something to worry about. Not everyone handles stress constructively. The body can handle some stress, mental or physical, but stress must be coped with and most people have the ability to do so. If the stress is short-term, chances are good that it will be dealt with. It is long-term stress that causes the body to break down.

Many people attribute their stress-related symptoms to "nerves" and, in fact, stress first affects the parts of the body related to the nervous system, especially through the digestive and intestinal systems. First symptoms of these digestive orders may be persistent indigestion or colitis.


Symptoms

Irritability, high blood pressure, headaches, depression, indigestion, weakening of the immune system, elevation of cholesterol levels, sleeplessness, impotence, migraine headaches, neckaches, diarrhea, dizziness, and loss of appetite are some of the disorders precipitated by stress. If the stress is not handled properly, then more serious illnesses may result. The disorders often are the result of nutrient deficiencies due to the anxiety reaction of loss of appetite.


Treatment

Relaxation. But this is often difficult for the person suffering from anxiety. It is necessary to alleviate the stress. A proper diet. The B-complex vitamins are very important for proper functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B-complex injections are helpful, reducing the damage to the immune system. They also improve brain function and reduce anxiety. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, white flour products, preserved meats, heavy spices and seasonings. Do not eat junk foods! A good diet gives the strength to keep the nervous system and the immune system in great shape, and help to cope with outside influences.


Nutrients

Vitamin B complex, 100 mg. daily. Magnesium, 1,000 mg. per day. L-Tyrosine (amino acid), 500 mg. in morning, 500 mg. at bedtime, helps reduce stress to the body. Effective, safe sleeping aid. Calcium, 2,000 mg. per day. Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, 3,000-10,000 mg. per day, is essential to adrenal gland function (stress depletes the adrenal gland hormones). Brewer's Yeast, taken as directed on the label. Kelp, 5 tablets per day, is a balanced vitamin/mineral preparation. Lecithin, 2 capsules with meals, is for cellular protection and brain function (coats the nerve fibers). L-Lysine plus vitamin C and zinc gluconate, taken as directed on the label, will help the cold sores, which are often the first sign of stress (reduces stress so it can be better handled). Multivitamin and mineral complex containing vitamin A, 25,000 IU daily in divided doses. Potassium, 99 mg daily, is needed for adrenal gland function. Proteolytic enzymes, between meals, destroys free radicals released by stress. Vitamin E, 400 IU daily, helps immune system. Zinc, 50 mg. daily, helps immune system.


Herbs

  • TB
    • Angelica
    • Betony, wood
    • Bittersweet
    • Catnip
    • Centaury, European, aerial parts
    • Chamomile
    • Figwort
    • Ginseng, American
    • Ginseng, Siberian
    • Golden seal
    • Heartsease
    • Hops, cones
    • Jeffersonia
    • Lady's slipper
    • Lavender, flowers
    • Lemon balm
    • Linden
    • Logan berries
    • Lotus plumule
    • Melissa
    • Mugwort
    • Orange, flowers
    • Pasque flower
    • Passionflower
    • Pau d'arco
    • Pennyroyal
    • Peppermint, leaves
    • Poppy, California
    • Rose hips
    • Rosemary
    • Skullcap
    • St. John's wort
    • Thuja
    • Valerian root
    • Vervain
    • Zizyphus


    Recommendations

    Rule out allergies or heavy metal intoxication. A quality diet, exercise, and proper rest are very important.

    Dealing with stress may require changes in the way an individual reacts to pressure, tension, and situations beyond your control. The following is a list of possible suggestions in dealing with difficult situations.

    • Physical activity can clear your mind and keep stress under control. Run, walk, play sports or keep a regular exercise program. Exercising once a month will not do much to relieve stress.
    • Some people find meditation helps them relax and handle stress.
    • Try to rest and get enough sleep. This may be difficult, stress may keep you up at night, although, some people welcome sleep as an escape. The less sleep you get, the more stressful you will feel, and the higher your chance of becoming ill because your immune system will weaken.
    • Deep breathing can shake of stress affects and can be done anywhere.
    • Take a day off, that's what weekends are for. Take a drive, go to the beach, work in the yard, read a book. Try to control your thoughts during this time so you don't think of the problems causing the stress.
    • Hobbies are great for relieving stress. Take the time to enjoy what you like doing. Don't feel guilty for spending time and money doing something for yourself. Your health is worth it.
    • Try not to take life so seriously! Learn to laugh.
    • If you cannot handle the stress, you may need professional help. There is nothing wrong with seeking help with your problems. Often, it is enlightening to talk with someone who can remain totally objective.
    • Avoid caffeine, smoking, alcohol, and drugs. While drugs and alcohol may offer temporary relief from stress, the stressor is still there the next day, and your health suffers from their use. Remember, there is no escape from stress. You must and can learn to handle it.

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