Stress and its effect on health and well-being

A different and medication free approach to getting some relief.

A very interesting article appeared in the scientific journal, Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America – Volume 31, Issue 1 (February 2011) titled “Stress and allergic diseases.”

It seems that stress may have profound effects and result in many of the ills that beset mankind.

What is Stress? 

Stress can be thought of as a psychophysiologic (mind/body/function) process that is a product of both the awareness of a potentially adverse situation and the ability to cope with that potentially adverse situation. (So, if you think you can comfortably cope with the situation it is less likely to be stressful and vice versa.) The events/situations appearing as the potential threat are called stressors.

The situations can be experiences in daily life, including daily hassles (ordinary stressors from interactions with family, neighbourhood, school, or work place) as well as major life events, which may be either positive or negative such as a large promotion that requires significantly increased physical and mental effort or losing one’s job resulting in financial crisis. Also, deaths in the family, moving house, etc.

Based on their duration, stressors are often considered acute (minutes to hours), subacute (less than 1 month duration), or chronic (months to years). Intensity of the stress, even when acute, may have longer-lasting effects that can overlap with a less intense stressor lasting for a longer period of time. Repetitive acute stressors (the same ones or even different ones) may, with time and intensity, have similar effects to that of a single long-term stressor.
Adverse effect of stress on health

A common clinical observation is the often adverse relationship between stress and human diseases. Various sources have estimated that up to 75% of all visits to physician’s offices are stress-related. This seems to be particularly true in relation to immune-based dysfunctions such as increased susceptibility to infections and various autoimmune diseases. Stress is also implicated in disease and death of inflammation-based conditions such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and even reduction of immune system capability associated with aging. Stress may also cause persistent increases in sympathetic nervous system activity, including increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and platelet aggregation (blood clotting), which may explain, at least in part, the known association between stress, immune alteration, and cardiovascular disease.

In addition, altered sleep can modulate the stress-health relationship. Sleep disturbance has been associated with adverse physical health outcomes including increased disease and death compared with the population with adequate pattern and duration of sleep. Other pathologies resulting from chronic stress include depression, tendencies to unhealthy behaviour, diabetes, dyslipidemia (bad fats eg. high cholesterol); irritable bowel syndrome, and cerebrovascular accidents.

Stress hormone levels (both maternal and fetal) are believed to increase with prenatal (before birth) stress in the mother. Such prenatal stress hormone exposure may alter natural immunoregulatory mechanisms such that the child has increased risk for developing various inflammatory diseases including allergy and asthma.

It seems that stress affecting the mother may affect the developing fetus and predispose the child to certain diseases. And that stress overall may be a huge factor in developing many adult diseases and the loss of quality of life that attends many of these.

A different and medication free approach to getting some relief.

On a different note, research*of 2818 people reveals an approach to coping better with stress that does not involve using medications. The procedure studied was Network Chiropractic which utilises gentle, low force and highly specific spinal contacts to reduce and balance muscle tension and to loosen and normalise spinal alignment and contour. It is very relaxing and there are no manipulations or adjustments made to the spine. This may not seem to relate to stress particularly, but please see the benefits experienced by those involved in the study listed below. Point b) relates to stress in particular.

Physical well-being: Reduced pain; improved spinal flexibility; more energy; less fatigue; fewer colds/flu; fewer headaches.
Stress evaluation: Less stress with family, significant relationships and work; improved coping with daily problems.
Mental/Emotional Well-being: Less distress about physical pain when present; more positive feelings about themselves; less moodiness, temper or anger outbursts; improved ability to think and concentrate; less anxiety or depression.
Lifestyle changes: Increases in regular exercise and use of relaxation techniques; improved dietary choices.
Life enjoyment: Greater experience of relaxation or well-being; more open in relation to others; more confidence in dealing with adversity; more compassion for others; more openness to guidance by inner feelings or inner voice.
Quality of life: Improved satisfaction with personal life, personal self, accomplishments and ability to adjust to change; improved satisfaction with life as a whole.

While not listed in the results of the study, clinically it has been found that many people may be able to sleep significantly better after receiving Network care for a while.

To sum up, if stress has had an impact on you (or your child), or you are experiencing a stress related condition and would like to be assessed to see how stress may be affecting your body, please call us 9793 3755. If you’re concerned, you may want to make that call to us now.


Dr John Van Der Meulen
B. Sc., B. App. Sci. (Chiropractor)

South Eastern Pain Relief Center,
16 Centre Dandenong Rd, Cheltenham, 9585 0202
185 Cleeland St, Dandenong, 9793 3755.

* Blanks (Professor Dept of Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine, University of California Irvine), et.al. A Retrospective Assessment of Network Care Using a Survey of Self-rated Health, Wellness and Quality of Life. JVSR Vol 1, No 4. 1997, pgs 15-30.

Category: Stress