April is National Stress Awareness month, which sheds light on the negative impact stress can have on your life and health. There are many factors that contribute to stress along with many factors that worsen with added stress, including tension headaches, hepatitis, asthma, and weight loss. It’s important that you reduce stress as much as possible in order to experience improved overall health.
Here are some of Bel Marra Health’s articles on stress and its effects on your body, as well as techniques to reduce stress in your own life.
Although an association between stress and headaches is a common topic for discussion in the medical community, new research has linked high levels of stress to an increase in the number of headaches a person gets.
A research team from Germany’s Hospital at the University Duisburg-Essen examined the headache and stress levels of more than 5,000 people between the ages of 21 and 71 over a two-year period.
The participants reported on the number of headaches they experienced each month and the level of stress on a scale of 0 to 100 that they encountered. A huge 31 percent of the headache sufferers experienced a tension-type headache, 14 percent reported migraines, and 11 percent said they had a tension headache combined with a migraine. Seventeen percent had a non-classified headache.
Those who reported a tension headache also said their stress levels were at an average of 52 out of 100. For every increase in 10 points on the stress scale, there appeared to be a 6.3 percent increase in the number of headaches in a month.
The researchers took other headache factors into consideration, including eating, smoking, and alcohol consumption habits, and were still able to conclude that the more stress a person had, the more headaches they experienced each month. Continue reading…
Depression, anxiety, and stress levels have been shown to increase the risk of death by liver disease. The findings come from the University of Edinburgh, and it’s the first study to identify a possible link between psychological distress and death resulting from various forms of liver disease.
The researchers are still unsure what the biological link between psychological distress and liver disease is. Previous research showed a strong association between mental distress and cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as obesity and high blood pressure, are also risk factors for liver disease.
Researchers examined responses from over 165,000 people who answered questionnaires capturing psychological distress. These participants were then tracked over the course of 10 years with a strong focus on the cause of any deaths.
Those who scored high with symptoms of psychological stress were more likely to die from liver disease, compared to those with lower scores.
Research lead Dr. Tom Russ said, “This study provides further evidence for the important links between mind and body, and of the damaging effects psychological distress can have on physical wellbeing. While we are not able to confirm direct cause and effect, this study does provide evidence that requires further consideration in future studies.” Continue reading…
In teens, stress and anxiety has been found to trigger asthma symptoms, such as awakening throughout the night with shortness of breath. The small study consisted of 38 asthmatic teenagers whose stress and anxiety scores were found to be higher than the general population.
Study lead author Cathryn Luria said, “Because these patients may be particularly vulnerable to stress and anxiety, this information can be helpful to physicians as they counsel their patients about the importance of managing their asthma. While we found a link between asthma symptoms and stress and anxiety, it’s not clear which came first – the symptoms or the stress and anxiety. More study is needed to determine that.”
Emotional disorders are found to be common in asthma sufferers, but the researchers aimed to uncover the association between the two in a defined population. Continue reading….
At the early stages of a new study, researchers may have insight in how reducing stress may aid in weight loss. Researchers from the University of Florida studied cells and mice, and found that chronic stress triggers production of betatrophin, a protein that inhibits an enzyme involved in fat burning.
First coauthor Dr. Li-Jun Yang said, “Betatrophin reduces the body’s ability to break down fat, underscoring a link between chronic stress and weight gain.”
Although animal studies are not always exact replicas in human models and the exact effects of betatrophin are not fully understood, what is known is that chronic stress can be harmful for overall health regardless.
Yang concluded, “Stress causes you to accumulate more fat, or at least slows down fat metabolism. This is yet another reason why it’s best to resolve stressful situations and to pursue a balanced life.”
The findings were published in BBA Molecular and Cell Biology and Lipids. Continue reading…
During the transition into menopause, researchers have found that changes in estrogen contribute to women experiencing higher sensitivity to stress and depression. This can contribute to negative feelings during this period. A form of estrogen, known as estradiol, commonly fluctuates during menopause, which can lead to an increased sensitivity to stress and depression.
It is well known that women experience depression at higher rates than men. Some research suggests women are more prone to depression due to reproductive events, such as perinatal depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which causes significant changes in hormones. Menopause, too, can increase the risk of depression because of significant hormonal changes. It is estimated that 26 to 33 percent of menopausal women experience depression.
The researchers used a 12-month placebo-controlled randomized trial to evaluate mood and cardiovascular benefits of estradiol in perimenopausal women. In the placebo group, fluctuations of estradiol were linked with a higher development of depressive symptoms as well as anger, irritability, and feelings of rejection. Continue reading…