Stress, Depression and Anxiety
Stress - A Modern Epidemic
Everyone experiences stress - in our busy modern world, stress is unavoidable; luckily the serious negative health effects of stress can be avoided, but the first step to recovery is recognising what our stressors are. Because everyone has a different experience of ‘stress’ it is important to note anything in your life that may be causing or contributing to stress.
If left unchecked, stress can lead on to numerous more serious illnesses, and so it is important to take your stress levels seriously, and remove, or amend any areas of your life that are causing you stress.
Common causes of stress include:
- Major life events - e.g. births, deaths, marriage, divorce, moving house, changing jobs, trauma
- Personal relationships - e.g. conflict, deception, bullying
- Work/study - e.g. exams, deadlines, responsibilities
- Health issues - e.g. pain, chronic illness
- Dietary and lifestyle issues - e.g. lack of sleep, poor diet, smoking, excessive intake of alcohol.
As you can see, stress is not just a ‘mental’ issue. A stressor that affects your body (such as long-term pain), is just as detrimental to your overall health and wellbeing as the stress of your job, home life, or the traffic you were stuck in this morning.
Symptoms of stress:
Stress may be the underlying factor behind a number of chronic illnesses.
Symptoms can include:
- Low energy
- Difficulty sleeping/ insomnia
- Poor memory and concentration.
- Panic attacks
- Digestive disturbances.
Long term stress may lead to hormonal and thyroid imbalances, obesity, and a weakened immune system which may lead to recurrent infections or coughs/cold
that won’t go away. A good example of this is the hundred-day cough. You probably know of someone who has had this!
Stress can deplete the body of nutrients, so in effect is a physical problem – just like a sore muscle. Because it affects our nerves, it often gets stigmatised. But nourishing your nerves with the appropriate nutrients may enable them to cope more effectively with whatever life throws at you: with
Steps to take to De-stress
Natural Medicine can help a long way towards managing your stress. Certain nutrients and herbs will be very helpful in managing symptoms and even helping you cope better long term.
But please remember – there are so many appalling supplements out there – some of which will likely do you more than good. Please get the best that you can afford or talk to a qualified a naturopath.
- Magnesium: stress reduces your stores of magnesium and a low level of this mineral in the body can actually make the effects of stress worse! You need to replenish your magnesium levels to support a healthy nervous system.
- B Vitamins: They help support your stress levels by enhancing the production of neurotransmitters (they keep you in a good mood). B vitamins may also improve your energy levels.
- Essential fatty acids: They are important building blocks of the brain and nervous system and can help support a healthy mood. They are also anti-inflammatory. The body cannot make essential fatty acids, so you must get them through your diet, or from a supplement proved from your health care practitioner.
- Herbal Medicine: Herbal medicines are second to none for helping you cope with stress. Herbs provide a wide range of relief from your mood or stress symptoms. Some are calming, some help your body ‘adapt’ to your stressor, and some may even calm your adrenal glands which leads on to a better capacity to cope with stress long term.
- Massage - Massage can certainly help!
We often recommend getting a therapeutic massage to our anxious and stressed clients and they are amazed at how much better they feel following a session.
“But massage is only for back pain?” I hear you say!
That is absolutely true - this in itself will help your stress. Relaxed muscles = a relaxed body! Less tension all round.
A new study finds that massage can help people with anxiety and other mental health disorders like depression, due to its ability to reduce cortisol and anxiety symptoms.
How does massage help?
Massage strengthens the connection between mind and body
Promotes relaxation of the mind and body
Provides immediate gratification
Provides safe nurturing touch
Please note: Massage therapy on its own, won’t provide long-term relief from depression or anxiety as it doesn’t address the emotional or chemical problems that are causing these symptoms. It shouldn’t be used as a sole treatment for these conditions but rather combined with Naturopathic and Nutritional care.