Symptoms of stress include anxious thoughts, fearful anticipation, poor concentration, difficulty with memory, feelings of tension, irritability, restlessness, inability to relax, depression, avoidance of tasks, sleep problems, difficulty completing tasks, fidgeting, crying, grinding teeth, tension headaches, low energy levels and lacking motivation, amongst many others.
The two major stress hormones are adrenaline and cortisol, both produced by the adrenal gland. Although they are both part of our normal make-up, they are released in larger amounts whenever our mind or body detects stress, and once released, they race around our body.
Adrenaline is our 'fight or flight' hormone and increases blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
Cortisol has the much more subtle effect of lowering our immune response. It can also increase our risk of developing osteoporosis and lowering our oestrogen and testosterone levels, which can lead to period problems, menopausal difficulties and even prostate disease. Illnesses related to stress include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, disturbances of heart rhythm, tension, headaches, muscle contraction, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, impotence and insomnia. Some stress is inevitable and each of us has our own personal stress threshold.
Complementary Healthcare Council