External Stressors include physical condition, such as an illness from an injury, concussion, stroke, chronic pain, or reaction to hot or cold temperature.
Internal Stressors can also be physical such as reaction to hot flashes, an infection or inflammation, or Lyme Disease. They can also be psychological.
Acute Stress is short-term, and the reaction to an immediate threat. It triggers the fight/flight area of the limbic system called the amygdala. This is also called the fight/flight response. The threat can be any situation that is experienced, even subconsciously or falsely, as a danger. Acute stress causes the feeling of anxiety, resulting in an increase in cortisol to your system. Acute Stress includes a traumatic event such as 9/11, the death of a loved-one, an illness, or the loss of a job.
Common acute stressors include:
Under most circumstances, once the acute threat has passed, the responses become inactive and the level of cortisol is decreased and the body returns to a normal relaxed state.
Chronic Stress is ongoing and long term stress, feeling overwhelmed, living in chronic anxiety, experiencing fight/flight. It includes the loss of a job or home, being deported, going through a divorce, dealing with cancer or another chronic illness. It is a feeling of loss of control and security.
The emotional component is depression and sleep problems. The physical component is your immune system, muscles, joints, and bones.
Acute stress affects your autonomic system that controls your saliva, pupils, breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, stomach, intestines, and bladder.
Under acute stress you may experience any or all of the following symptoms:
If you are one of the millions of people who try to resolve acute or chronic stress with alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and overeating, you might feel some comfort or relief at the moment. However, the long term effects only compounds the physiologic effects of stress itself. It then becomes a vicious cycle, causing your stress response to only be more heightened, causing greater sleep problems and an increase in drug and alcohol abuse. Drinking four or five cups of coffee, for example, can cause changes in blood pressure and stress hormone levels, similar to the levels produced in chronic stress. Sugar is a major factor, especially if you have had some form of brain injury such as a concussion, stroke, or brain surgery.
The physical symptoms of anxiety disorder mirror many of those of stress, including a feat heart rate; rapid shallow breathing and increased muscle tension. Anxiety is an emotional disorder, however, and is characterized by the feeling of apprehension, uncertainty, fear, or panic. Unlike stress, the triggers for anxiety are not necessarily or usually associated with specific stressful or threatening conditions. Some individuals with Anxiety Disorders have numerous physical complaints such as headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, dizziness, and chest pain. Several cases of anxiety disorders are debilitating and interfere with career, family, and social spheres.
Depression can be a disabling condition, and like anxiety disorders may result from untreated chronic stress. Depression also mimics some of the symptoms of stress including changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and concentration. Serious depression, however, is distinguished from stress by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in life, and sometimes thoughts of suicide. Acute depression is also accompanied by significant changes in the person’s function. Professional therapy may be needed to determine if depression is caused by stress or if it is the primary problem.
You do not have to live with symptoms of Acute or Chronic Stress.
Let Dr. Diane® and her integrative team of brain health experts customize a program to help you feel better today. Dr. Diane’s Brain Rehabilitation Program can help return your life to its optimal level. There is a Way!®