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Ask Dr. Nandi: Can stress actually make you sick?

Posted at 5:39 PM, Nov 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-03 17:39:12-04

Anxiety and worry are normal emotions we all experience. They can actually be useful when we need to take action when faced with problematic situations.   

But when worry becomes a recurring emotion, it can affect your health in many different ways. That’s because when we get stressed, the hormone cortisol and adrenaline are released by your central nervous system. 

Cortisol tells your body to release glucose because energy is needed immediately for muscles for the flight or fight response. That’s all good if we need to be alert or avoid danger. 

But if our cortisol levels stay elevated due to continuous challenges without adequate relief, it can lead to many different health problems.

Stress can affect you physically, leaving you with headaches, body pain, fatigue, poor sleep, or poor work performance. 

You can experience mood changes like irritability, depression, anger, and lack of motivation. Also, your behavior can be affected and you could socially withdraw, develop bad eating habits, or struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. 

So, it’s very important to find active ways to deal with stress before it ends up hurting your health. To help you manage it, here are my prescriptions:

Partha’s RX:

1. Identify your stress triggers, write them down and think about them. Then come up a plan to deal with the issue or situation.  

2. Practice mindfulness, meditation or deep breathing. These can counter the effects of stress by slowing down blood pressure and centering your mental and physical state.

3. Get moving, because those who exercise regularly experience less anxiety. Any form of physical activity can help- whether it’s strength training, yoga or walking.

4. Make time for yourself and also make time for family and friends. Social support can help tremendously so please don’t suffer in silence.   

It’s also important to eat a healthy balanced diet, get enough sleep and focus on what’s positive in your life. 

And always take the path of the health hero. Never give up, don’t stop learning, seek help when you need it and make health your number one priority.