Chronic stress is defined as continuous (days or weeks) exposure to a stressful situation. According to the American Institute of stress:
- Seventy-five to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints or disorders.
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse effects due to stress.
- Stress has been linked to all leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide on the job.
- Nearly half of all American workers suffer from symptoms of burnout, a disabling consequence of stress.
- An estimated one million workers are absent on an average work day due to stress-related complaints. Stress is believed to be responsible for more than half of the 550 million work days lost annually due to absenteeism.
Stress can be any disruption in homeostasis (balance) of the body that can affect the adrenal function.
- Psychological stressors such as divorce or a death of a loved one.
- Physical stressors such as lack of sleep, trauma, or chronic disease.
- Nutritional stressors, such as lack of vitamin C, vitamin B5, etc.
- Environmental stressors such as pollution, heavy metals, or radiation.
People can have varying symptoms of stress or adrenal fatigue, including:
- General exhaustion
- Dizziness when moving from a sitting or lying position to a standing position.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Chronic pain conditions (i.e. fibromyalgia)
- Inability to handle stressful situations.
When one needs to test the adrenal function for stress, saliva testing is ideal for accurate results. One of the main reasons to use saliva is that it represents the free or bio-available fraction of hormones. The saliva tests the cortisol and it is collected four times throughout the day. When collecting the saliva, be sure to rinse your mouth well to make sure no blood is collected from possible abrasions in the mouth.
Many people resort to the use of self-medicating with detrimental things such as alcohol to cope with stress. This so-called remedy only stresses the adrenals more and makes the problem worse. There are many helpful things people can do to reduce stress. There are substances called adaptogens that modulate your response to stress or changes in the environment.
Nutrients which are supportive to help reduce stress:
- Lifegive adrena support – It has several adaptogens to support adrenal function.
- Adaptogen R3 (Premier Research Labs) – It has several adaptogens to support adrenal function.
- B-Complex – B vitamins are depleted with stress.
- Magnesium – Has a calming effect.
- Cordyceps mushroom – Helps to increase oxygen capacity and ATP production within muscle cells.
- Lifegive vitamin C – The adrenals hold the most vitamin C in the body.
Mind/body support for the adrenals:
- Visualization – Formation of mental-visual images to reduce stress
- Affirmations – The act of making statements to yourself to reduce stress
- Comedies (laughter)
- Deep breathing exercises
- Psychological therapy – Such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
To support the physical body practice the following:
- Being well hydrated (1/2 your body weight in fluid ounces per day),
- Proper diet (Raw and living foods)
- Adequate sleep (7 to 9 hours)
- Moderate physical exercise (aerobic and anaerobic)
- Making love
Try to identify your personal stressor and eliminate it, if possible. Consider changes to your view of the stressor. As you learn to identify the stressor, you can begin the see patterns and modify your behavior. Remember, it you feel that you are having adrenal issues and cannot come to Hippocrates, please contact a caring, competent integrative medicine doctor.
By Tom Fisher RN, BA