CHRONIC STRESS AND HEALTH
First we define stress as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Our body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect us against threats from predators and other aggressors.
We face multiple demands each day, such as shouldering a huge workload, making ends meet, hoping to excel on our classes and taking care of family thus our body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats.
When one encounters a perceived stress – for instance, you check your grade and saw you made an “F” on a class you struggled hard for, or the loss of a loved one — your hypothalamus (a tiny region at the base of our brain involved in many necessary processes of the body including behavioral, autonomic, and endocrine functions ) sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerves and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol which is the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Multiple studies have shown that these sudden emotional stresses — especially anger — can trigger heart attacks, arrhythmias (which is improper beating of the heart, whether irregular, too fast, or too slow) and even sudden death. After a short while this stressful mood subsides and the body feels normal again but “what happens when these stress response goes haywire”?
Once a perceived stress or threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.
But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack or insecure, that mood stays turned on. Chronic stress may also cause disease, either because of changes in your body or the overeating; smoking and other bad habits people use to cope with stress
The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
- Heart rate elevations
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
- Habitual smoking which in turn affects the CNS, the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, digestive system etc.
Scientifically, It is believed that 87% of people living in America undergo stress in their lives; striving to make ends meet, coping wit unsafe communities, pushing 3 or more jobs a day, and worse coping with the loss of loved ones. All these and more exposes us to stress which when escalated can lead to cardio problems so we can then imagine what stress the likes of Mrs. Trayvon, Brown, Garner are going through every day in their lives.
posted by osuji Chukwunonso