Stress Management is Health Management: Dr. Marianne Marchese explains how the two are directly linked
Aug 05, 2014 09:26AM
● By Dr. Marianne Marchese
Everyone has some degree of stress in their life. Even happy events can cause stress, such as the birth of a new baby, getting married, a new job or a new house. Stress can adversely affect our health, manifesting as fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, depression, anxiety, overeating, drug and alcohol abuse, hormonal imbalance and other health problems. It has been linked to high blood pressure, cancer, insomnia, anxiety, depression, heart disease, low libido, impaired immunity, headaches and irritable bowel syndrome, so it is important to recognize the signs and take action.
Hormones such as cortisol increase during stress, which also affects other chemicals and hormones in the body such as adrenaline, melatonin, thyroid hormone, serotonin and dopamine. This is especially true for women. Stress can cause menstrual irregularities and even stop the menstrual cycle. It can affect thyroid hormone production and conversion of thyroid medication, so it is important women get tested to rule out hormonal problems induced by stress.
Symptoms of stress include fatigue and poor sleep; poor concentration and short-term memory; weakened immune system leading to constant colds and flu; increased irritability; anxiety and depression; hair loss; muscle aches and joint pain; joint laxity causing vertebrae to go out of alignment; headaches; constipation or diarrhea; and heart palpitations or rapid pulse.
Naturopathic medicine can be a very powerful and effective way to manage stress and balance hormones. Several botanical medicines such as adrenal adaptogens and nervines are used for stress. These can affect neurotransmitters that combat fatigue and restore energy. Some vitamins may also help maintain normal mental functioning. Amino acids are precursors to neurotransmitters and are important substances for normal nerve and brain function, sleep and moods. There are more than 2,500 homeopathic remedies, and a skilled naturopathic physician can find the right one.
Hydrotherapy, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes are essential for stress management, too. Simply avoiding sugar and caffeine can make a lasting impact on health and hormones. Managing our stress equals managing our health. Recognizing it and taking steps to mange it is part of leading a happy and healthy life.
Dr. Marianne Marchese maintains a private practice in Phoenix and teaches gynecology at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. For more information, visit DrMarchese.com.