3 Common Health Conditions You Probably Had No Idea Can Be Caused By Stress

Photo: Photo by Maxim Shklyaev on Unsplash
Common Diseases & Health Issues Caused By Chronic Stress

With the rapidly increasing prevalence of stress in most of our lives today, many people are finding it more difficult than ever to stop and smell the roses, take in the beauty of a green field or practice other small acts of mindfulness.

If you are one of those people who feels constantly pushed to rush forward while simultaneously being stretched in every direction, it is possible your health is in jeopardy.

It's not your fault. We live in a world full of unavoidable stressors. The instant access expected by and to us via technology adds tremendous pressure on us all. Mix in the many toxins found in our air, water, food and thought processes, as well as a lack of adequate sleep and you have the perfect breeding ground for medical conditions, diseases and health issues caused by the effects of chronic stress on our bodies.

For many, it won't be until they find themselves facing total burnout, a nervous breakdown or severe illness that they realize just how dangerously pressured their life has become.

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You are not a computer with endless data storage. You may believe you are, but eventually, pushing yourself too hard will catch up with you.

The increasing occurrence of ailments such as Parkinson’s, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety demonstrate that it's time we all take note of the potential warning signs that the burden we're placing on our mind and body is just too much.

The following is a list of 3 common diseases, medical conditions and health issues caused by the effects of chronic stress on your body that you must watch out for.

1. Nutritional deficiencies

It's no wonder so many of us are sick and tired of being tired. In the hurried pace of life, you naturally eat the standard American diet or grab and go lunches that are readily available. If this sounds like you, even without additional stress, it's likely your diet is nutritionally deficient.

Stress only compounds this problem, as it sets you up for a sooner rather than later illness. Stress depletes many of the minerals and vitamins necessary to help the body function, shutting down your ability to digest the nutrients you do take in. Without proper digestion and absorption, you cannot convert food to the energy you need to keep going.

For instance, magnesium, a mineral necessary for nervous system regulation, muscle movement, blood pressure, sleep, and protein synthesis, is one of the minerals most depleted with stress. Tempers can flare, irritability can set in, brain fog may be an issue and constipation is certainly a factor.

Your B vitamins, known as your happy vitamin, are also depleted with stress. Not only do the B’s help to create enzymes necessary for digestion, but the combination of this class of vitamins help you form new red blood cells, maintain heart rhythms, minimize depression, mood changes, headaches, sugar cravings, and insomnia.

Go back to the foods you eat when stressed — namely carbohydrates. Your body needs Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6, along with phosphorus and magnesium to digest and metabolize these foods. If these B’s are not present, then the carbohydrates you eat possibly turn to fat rather than energy.

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2. Adrenal fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is like a dark cloud that hangs over you each day and night of life. You struggle to get out of bed in the morning. You barely remember showering or dressing for work. You might get some energy around 9:00 am and begin to feel half-human again, but by 3:00 pm, you are ready for a nap.

You turn to caffeine and sugar as a way to feed your energy. However, if you were to stop for a moment to quiet your mind and turn your imagination toward your inner self, what you feel might be indicative of a weeping willow tree dropping dew to the ground with each step you take.

On the inside, your soul is crying, while your brain, with all of its chatter, pushes you towards the "let's do it again cycle".

This probably sums up about half of the population. And if this image involves you, your adrenals may be fatigued.

Adrenal fatigue is not an overnight occurrence. It is an accumulation of too many stresses from different angles over a period of time. Continued stress, without time for recuperation and restorative timeout, wreaks havoc on your adrenals.

Your adrenal glands are what keep you alive. They help you cope with stress caused by real threats, but when overworked under stressful conditions, these organs shoot out cortisol and adrenaline to keep you revved up. Without time to recover, this organ is always on high alert.

Many doctors won't tell you about adrenal fatigue. They will simply tell you that your kidneys may not be functioning properly, or that your skin looks saggy and pale, or maybe they will diagnose diabetes or other conditions such as hyper or hypothyroid. Anti-depressants may be in your future too.

What comes first the chicken or the egg? It is difficult to tell, however, given our current lifestyles of high demands, fast food, imagined threats, and poor sleep, is it any wonder that the true symptom of many aches and pains may be due to adrenal fatigue?

As stated above, you cannot live without these organs. When you notice your levels of stress increases, it is imperative that you find ways to protect your adrenals at all cost.

Indian herbs such as Ashwagandha, Licorice Root, as well as other over the counter adrenal complexes can help to rejuvenate your adrenal glands, as can fresh fruits and veggies. But even the most organic foods may be less than sufficient when adrenal fatigue creeps in.

During high stress, or immediately following the trauma, set a schedule for yourself. Find ways to balance your mental and physical work with extra rest, relaxation and play. A daily routine that promotes your natural biological clock helps the body reset not only the adrenal glands but also other organs responsible for metabolism, hormone production, and digestion.

Work diligently to put you first so you take care of you. Limit your outings, learn to enjoy the movie or television shows you watch, and lower the components that add stress to your life. What you might find when you do this is how those dark circles and bags under your eyes begin to disappear.

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3. Liver, gallbladder and stomach ailments

You do not have to drink alcohol to have a fatty liver. You do not have to ingest excessive or hard to digest fats for gallbladder sludge. And that stomach acid you are experiencing, well it may be more related to the stress you are under rather than the foods you are eating.

With the deficiency of magnesium and onset of constipation, your system backs up. During stress where you may exhibit with anger, frustration, indecision, resentment and the inability to take on more responsibility, all of these organs are affected.

No longer do you have a downward flow of digestion and elimination, with high stress your system holds on, or holds in and in this case, upper digestive ailments arise.

Life is a circle of choices. It’s human nature when stressed to reach for exactly the items you do not need or less than healthy choices for you. It takes discipline and determination to change habits; still, good nutrition is important, for, without it, no one survives.

You can't avoid stress in our world today. You can, however, become aware of your own habits and make a few lifestyle changes to decrease your reaction to stressful events.

Self-awareness can put you in touch with those feelings that beg you to slow a bit. Looking at what brings you happiness versus what drains you can help you itemize your calendar so you pencil a schedule right for you. Choosing to incorporate fresh fruits and dark green leafy veggies into your mealtimes, while preparing more meals at home, can add spice to your life.

These small changes help you handle whatever life throws at you, without the negative self-talk and distortion.

Feed your adrenal glands and they will feed you. Avoid big illnesses later by adding simple tweaks to your life now.

Most of all, take time to make your life wonderful so you too find time to stop smell the roses.

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Susan Dykes is a certified craniosacral therapy practitioner and spiritual coach who helps clients address root issues of their stressful lives. Together you can learn simple ways to alter your habits and find adventures to offset stress. Email her for more information.