What is Chronic Stress?
Chronic Stress makes life miserable...and it kills.
Don't be a victim. Learn how to prevent, and recover from, this destructive syndrome.
Do you experience Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, Weight Gain, Low Sex Drive, Indigestion, Nervousness, or Headaches…Are you struggling with a disease condition with a confirmed medical diagnosis?
Do you wish to avoid a shortened life that ends in painful conditions such as cancer or heart disease?
No symptoms? So what! Why wait for them to happen? Health problems rarely arise overnight. Unseen or internal sources of Chronic Stress could be creating health problems right now that may not appear to you in weeks, months, or even years!
In any case, you need to identify the underlying causes of health problems and make efforts to resolve them.
Symptoms are signs that your body is struggling with
Chronic Stress is any stress that the body is subjected to on a regular basis or on a single occasion with lasting negative effects.
Chronic stress compromises the Critical Systems of Function (Hormonal, Gastrointestinal, Immune, Detoxification) that must be in harmony for your body to be healthy.
When core systems of function become damaged by stress, physical changes occur that disrupt overall health and longevity potential.
Like a collapse of dominoes, when one system falters it stresses the others, leading to illness and disease.
This process is known as the Chronic Stress Response.
You may identify the word ‘stress’ with feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, fatigue, emotional fragility, or with similar responses to undesirable situations and conflicts. “I’m stressed out!” is a common response to the world we live in and life itself.
These examples refer to situational stress. However, stress that becomes chronic—persistent and ongoing—has a far greater negative impact on your health yet it might not be as obvious as situational stress.
The Two Types of Chronic Stress
You don’t need a doctor to identify these sources of stress. Lifestyle decisions—along with genetics—shape the foundation of your health and determine its future. The longer chronic stress undermines your core functional systems, the less you are able to compensate for poor lifestyle behaviors.
These sources of stress occur inside the body, the results of pre-existing impacts from stress and environmental exposures. Generally obscured from the senses, subclinical stress—like clinical stress—can do damage without causing obvious symptoms.
Do you have any of these stresses in your life? That is a trick question.
You may be experiencing them and not even know it!
Sources of Chronic Stress can be identified, relieved, and resolved.
Doing so will lengthen and add quality to your life.
A Classic CHRONIC STRESS Case
Mary, a 33-year-old working woman, wife, and mother of a three-year-old child, came to see me after her fatigue had gotten so severe that she could barely get out of bed. She also experienced indigestion every time she ate. In reviewing Mary’s history, I learned that she suffered from "super mom syndrome." She experienced a great deal of stress trying to be a perfect wife, mother, and employee. She even kept a perfectly clean house in her "spare" time.
While busy taking care of everyone and everything else, Mary neglected her own health. She ate junk food while on the run, slept poorly, and didn’t set aside time to exercise or relax. Basically, she drove herself to exhaustion, collapsing into bed every night. Based on functional lab testing, I learned that she had exhausted adrenal glands and related hormone imbalances, as well as a Helicobacter pylori infection. Conversations revealed that Mary struggled with mental and emotional stress. She felt that life was out of her control and she was just hanging on for the ride. The Helicobacter pylori infection was creating yet another layer of physiological stress, and a chronic one (24/7) at that! I focused Mary’s treatment program on lifestyle changes, along with treating her infection and addressing her hormone dysfunction.
While following the program, Mary committed to taking time to prepare and eat balanced, nutritious meals. She and her husband arranged their schedules to give her time to take a brisk walk for half an hour each day. In addition, Mary made a point to be in bed by 10:00 P.M. to ensure she received adequate rest and recovery. Although making these lifestyle changes was difficult, Mary realized that she needed to let some chores slide and rearrange her priorities. Those decisions, followed by smart lifestyle choices day to day, along with follow-up consultations and testing, helped to renew her strength and resolve and put her back on track for a healthy life. Her story demonstrates that anyone can make informed choices to improve health and lower the risk of chronic illness.
The answer lies in FUNCTIONAL WELLNESS
Functional Wellness is the breakthrough healthcare model that combines the best of integrative medicine (Functional Medicine) with lifestyle and environmental awareness, with an overall emphasis on identifying and eliminating the causes of chronic stress.
The body’s core functional systems are undermined by Chronic Stress.
Resolve to practice a healthy lifestyle, avoid environmental hazards, and engage in preventive healthcare.
Don’t wait until you have developed a complex health problem to get serious about health.
The time to optimize your health and prevent illness is now.
Hormone imbalance, or adrenal syndrome, is the mechanism by which the Chronic Stress Response occurs. Hormones are chemical substances—often referred to as ‘messengers’—produced by glands and organ cells, with specific effects on target cells and organs. An ideal balance of hormones enhances metabolism, energy production, immune function, and other processes fundamental to optimal health. Hormone imbalance accelerates the aging process.
Under chronic stress, the adrenal glands (two walnut sized organs located above each kidney) increase their output of CORTISOL—often referred to as the “stress hormone.” The principal hormones produced by the adrenal glands—cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), aldosterone, testosterone, estrogens, and progesterone—share a common precursor, the master hormone PREGNENOLONE. When under stress, your adrenal glands are hyperstimulated and pregnenolone is diverted (stolen) from other pathways to produce cortisol (this is known as Pregnenolone Steal or Cortisol Escape).
This increase in the production of cortisol (and the resulting diversion of pregnenolone) causes fatigue and the general aches and pains associated with chronic stress. However, with time, Pregnenolone Steal has a much broader damaging effect on health. It exacerbates any developing or existing health problems because pregnenolone is not being adequately converted to other essential hormones.
The following is a simplified version of a more complex chart. It illustrates pathways of hormone production and demonstrates Pregnenolone Steal. The small red arrows show how pregnenolone is diverted from making its usual myriad of hormones when it needs to help the body cope with stress by producing cortisol.
Click to enlarge (PDF 210KB)
Who (or What) Stole the Pregnenolone?
What stresses have become chronic, causing your body to divert pregnenolone to provide for the production of cortisol? The sooner you identify and deal with the offenders, the sooner you restore the health of your core systems of function.
To answer this question, begin by looking at your daily life.
- Could blood sugar control be an issue because of too many simple carbohydrates?
- Could you have an unseen health problem such as subclinical gluten intolerance?
- Do you exercise (too much, too little, not at all)?
- Do you get enough sleep? Are you getting adequate rest to allow your body to truly recover from each day’s adventures?
- Do you have silver amalgam fillings in your mouth that are leaking mercury and other toxic metals into your body?
- Do your efforts to maintain your lifestyle create stress?
- Does your work, family life, or relationships cause mental and emotional stress that you can’t seem to handle?
- Have you been exposed to chemicals or heavy metals?
- Have you been tested for infections (bacterial, parasitic, fungal, and viral)?
- Do you have a poor diet?
Whatever stresses are impacting your body, they have one thing in common:
When they become CHRONIC, they lead to Pregnenolone Steal and the Chronic Stress Response, and ultimately to illness and disease.
You are the guardian of your health. If you trade responsible diet, sleep, exercise, and stress management for irresponsible habits, you’re sabotaging your own health. Environmental factors add to your stress load. Over time, Chronic Stress compromises your core functional systems, reducing the quality and duration of your life.
What can you do? Take 3 Simple Steps.
- Identify the impacts and sources of Chronic Stress with the assistance of a FM provider.
- Treat the impacts and sources of Chronic Stress with appropriate therapies and lifestyle changes.
- Avoid Chronic Stress by taking personal action to educate and protect yourself.
Taking these steps can dramatically increase your odds for living a
long and vibrant life.
Longevity comes to those who do not sit idly in wait for disease and medical intervention.
GET THE CARE YOU NEED.
WORK WITH A DOCTOR WHO PRACTICES
With an awareness of Chronic Stress and the knowledge and tools offered by COREONE, you can do a lot to improve your health and sense of well-being. It's also helpful, and often essential, to work with a health care provider who is an experienced FM clinician. Your FM provider can order the lab testing you need and provide a wide scope of therapies and recommendations that no layperson can access or truly experience.