If you are alive and breathing at this moment then you have probably had stress in the last 72 hours in some form. The American Psychological Association, American Institute of Stress, New York, completed a survey in April of 2012 of the U.S. population and reported the following statistics about stress:
|Percent of people who regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress||77 %|
|Regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress||73 %|
|Feel their stress has increased over the past five years||48 %|
|Cited money and work as the leading cause of their stress||76 %|
|Reported lying awake at night due to stress||48 %|
|Annual costs to employers in stress related health care and missed work.||$300 Billion|
|Upset stomach||34 %|
|Irritability or anger||50 %|
|Feeling nervous||45 %|
|Lack of energy||45 %|
Did you catch the very first statistic? 77% of the population of the US regularly experience physical symptoms from stress. No wonder we are spending $300 billion in health care annually on issues related to stress. That is very likely every adult that works in this country plus some children and retired folks and/or the elderly! It seems it is at epidemic proportions. Why is it such an important factor in our health?
The stress cascade, hormonally in endocrinology, is extremely intricate. Hormones appear to affect neurotransmitters, the adrenal gland, the thyroid gland and the intestines.
Cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland, is the main so-called stress hormone. We already know that over-secretion of cortisol over a long period of time is associated with diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as well as obesity.
Many people do not understand how these particular events occur simply because one is stressed. When stress occurs, the increased cortisol secreted by the adrenal gland increases blood sugar which is then stored as triglycerides, cholesterol, and glycogen. So stress and aging go hand in hand. Emotional triggers such as anger, fear, death of a family member, a move, a job change, marriage, divorce and financial worries, all influence cortisol and, subsequently, our blood sugar.
Because stress can cause a cascade of events that influence cortisol, insulin, thyroid, sex hormones, etc., it eventually translates into cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and depression. Stress has a huge impact on aging and related diseases.
What stressors do you have that you think might be creating problems for your health and wellness?
Our blog next week will focus on how stress can be reduced and controlled in order to begin to combat the impacting health issues that will occur if left unchecked. Stay tuned.