The Impact of Long Term Stress
1st November 2013
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According to The HSE stress, depression or anxiety account for 10.4 million sick days a year and the demands of work appear to be increasing with longer working hours and pressure to succeed. Short term stress associated with a “fight or flight” response or during exercise is normal to increase heart rate, breathing rate and blood glucose. However, prolonged periods of stress can disrupt hormonal balances and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, heart disease, IBS, migraines, ulcers and psoriasis.


While the theory of Eustress suggests that there is an optimal amount of stress where performance is at its highest, hyperstress can stimulate a stress response that reduces performance and leads to distress. The General Adaptation Syndrome suggested that if the body is continually over stressed it will follow a pattern to try and return the body to homeostasis. First of all, if the body is continually stimulated there is an increased production of stress hormones and a release of glucose and lipids, which can lead to fat storage. The next phase is resistance when the stressor continues and damage begins to occur and the adrenal cortex (in the kidney) becomes enlarged. Eventually the body reaches exhaustion where it cannot cope with the continued stress response.


To reduce the likelihood of stress related illnesses it is important to stimulate the PSNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System) by incorporating relaxation activities such as reading, listening to music or yoga. Regular exercise and sleep also help to remove excess stress hormones and moderate exercise stimulates the production of endorphins and dopamine which increase mood. The physiology team can complete resilience to stress testing in the clinic, which measures the interaction between the PSNS and SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System). Following this test advice can be given to reduce physiological stress and improve wellbeing.


Our next “Meet our Expert” event on Monday 18th November will focus on “work-life balance”, which would be a great way to gain advice to cope with stress more effectively.


For further advice to improve the way you cope with stress or about our Meet our Expert event, contact Nuffield Farnham on T:01252 747500, visit our website or follow us on Twitter @NuffieldClinic

About the Author

Jason R

Member since: 12th August 2013

Jason is the Clinic Manager at Nuffield Health Farnham. His team of experts include; Nutritional Therapists, Physiotherapists, a GP and physiologists. The team work hard to ensure that patients gain specific...

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