This month is Stress Awareness month and considering every person experiences stress on a continual basis, it is important that we become more educated on what stress is, why it happens, and how it can help or hurt us. The fact is, stress is a natural response to situations that we perceive as threatening. Meant to be a protective feature of our bodies – part of the “fight or flight” response – excessive stress is not protective, but extremely harmful. Unfortunately, too many of us face ‘chronic’ stress.
The American Psychological Association cites the following risks associate with chronic stress, “When stress starts interfering with your ability to live a normal life for an extended period, it becomes even more dangerous. The longer the stress lasts, the worse it is for both your mind and body. You might feel fatigued, unable to concentrate or irritable for no good reason, for example. But chronic stress causes wear and tear on your body, too. Stress can make existing problems worse. In one study, for example, about half the participants saw improvements in chronic headaches after learning how to stop the stress–producing habit of ‘catastrophizing,’ or constantly thinking negative thoughts about their pain.”
So often I see patients experiencing chronic pain and sleeplessness due to stress. In turn, their stress increases since sleep disorders and TMJ pain can raise levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which wreaks havoc on your body; one seemingly feeds the other.
Too much cortisol can also keep you up at night, which can lead to weight gain, as well as a rise in blood glucose levels, potentially putting you in danger of developing diabetes. Ultimately, too much cortisol can contribute to feelings of depression. A person dealing with chronic pain may end up feeling depressed, in part because they just get tired of not feeling well, in part because they can’t seem to get answers for their problems.
I’m here to tell you there are solutions to how you’re feeling. We can combat the stress in your life and the chronic pain that you are experiencing. To learn more about what your next steps should be, visit www.drshabkrish.com.