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Stress- The Epidemic of the 21st Century


More than a few times each week a patient asks me if stress could have caused her health problems. This question usually comes towards the end of our appointment. This is after I have thoroughly questioned her on all the elements leading up to her chief complaint. It comes out as a rhetorical question because she has ultimately come to the conclusion herself having been given the opportunity to view her life and her health through a different lens.

Accidents and poor choices aside, my answer 98% of the time is yes, Stress can cause anything.

What many people do know is that chronic stress can bring on depression, headaches, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, insomnia, obesity, fatigue, allergies, digestive problems, skin disorders, and addictive behaviors.

What many people don’t realize is that stress is especially good at creating hormone imbalances. Since hormones rule women it goes without saying that problems will ultimately arise in that area.

Stress can affect appetite; some people eat more, others eat less.

Stress can affect what you eat, when you eat and how you eat.

Most people default to fast, quick, and easy.

The what, when, and how details of eating affect both your hormones and your digestion.

One third of adults in the United States will have an anxiety problem at some point in their lives.

In 2010 forty six million prescriptions were written for Xanax, a leading anti-anxiety medication.

According to the National Institutes of Health, women are 60% more likely to develop anxiety than men. The age group that suffers the most is the thirty to forty year olds. Yikes! I don’t know about you but that demographic sound a lot like moms to me. Hence my dedication this month to focus on moms.

The feelings of stress come from the same well that produces the feelings of fear.

In essence, the stress response comes from a fear response.

The opposite of love is fear.

Unfortunately, chronic fear permeates our society. I really wish it were the other way around.

Typically there is a big event of perceived fear that upsets the nervous system. It can go on for days, weeks, months, years without resolution. The nervous system is not designed to be under constant agitation.  This causes an inability to relax in everything we do. Often we crave even more stimulation to distract ourselves from the underlying fear. Stimulating behaviors include surfing the Internet and social media, watching late night TV, and eating sugary foods.

When a woman is under stress she often makes lifestyle choices that push her more out of balance. These poor choices reinforce the hormonal discord and move what she so desperately desires further from reach.  There are also compensatory habits that we develop as a reaction to the fear; these too leave us further from the balance we seek. Compensatory habits include using food, alcohol, drugs, sex, caffeine, or over- exercise. They also include compulsive behaviors, and phobias. All of these cause the fear to get bigger over time.

Bottom Line: Chronic Stress depletes your hormones and triggers behaviors that compromise your health.

One of the ways to quiet the fear reaction is to connect with the positive emotions of love and gratitude.

As love enters, fear vanishes.

There cannot be both at the same time.

If this post resonates with you, start out by writing down the stimulating behaviors and compensatory habits that you default to. Begin to recognize your habits when you are faced with stress.

Then you can supplement those behaviors with something else. For example if you watch late night TV, turn off the TV, turn down the lights and go take a bath. A bath is calming where TV watching is stimulating.

It’s a good idea to create your own set of mantras or positive affirmations to rely on when you begin to feel the fears creep in. 

I’m here to help you heal. I want you to become healthier, happier, and more abundant in all parts of your life. You are a beautiful soul.  There is no other person on the planet who can fill your shoes. I want to help you figure out how you can walk more comfortably in yours.

With so much Love,

Dr. Purcell


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Dr. Andrea Purcell

A trusted and well-respected Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Purcell has been in private practice for over twenty years. Dr. Purcell is a published author and has a women’s specialty practice for hormone balancing, weight loss, mystery illness, and gastro-intestinal concerns. Dr. Purcell assists her patients by identifying the underlying cause of disease and removing obstacles that impede the body's natural ability to heal. Drugs and surgery are used as a last resort. She believes that increasing health on the inside shines through to the outside.

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