Healing Path, Inc.

Finding Balance
Chapter 2.27 - Stress and Anxiety

In this chapter, Dr. Donache presents Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for the prevention and treatment of anxiety and stress.

The chapter includes an overview of the disease's symptoms, conventional treatment methods, and alternative therapies, including Bio-Energetic therapies, Bodywork and Movement therapies, and Mental / Emotional treatments.

This chapter is taken from Dr. Donache's upcoming book, Finding Balance - Integrating Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for the Prevention of the Top 30 Diseases in America. Each section of chapter 2, which describes alternative treatments for each of the top diseases, is available for download on this website.

Table of Contents
Chapter Excerpt
Glossary of Terms Used in this Chapter
Additional Disease Descriptions and Treatments Available for Download

Table of Contents

      • Stress-Related Disorders
      • Anxiety Disorders
      • Psychotherapy
      • Medications
      • Group Support
      • Issues and Answers
      • Additional Suggestions
      • Nutrition and Supplements
        • Nutrition
        • Supplements
        • Enzymatic Therapies
      • Rainforest and Western Herbs
        • Rainforest Herbs
        • Western Herbs
      • Homeopathic Remedies
      • Essential Oils
      • Therapeutic Bodywork and Massage
      • Traditional Chinese Medicine
      • Hatha Yoga Postures
      • Meditation
      • Visualization
      • Affirmation

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Chapter Excerpt

Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but we all experience stress-related disorders in different ways. Researchers estimate that stress contributes to as many as 80 percent of all major illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, endocrine and metabolic disease, skin disorders, and infectious ailments of all kinds, due to a compromised auto-immune system. It is the precursor to Depression.

We may feel stress not only from negative events but also from positive changes, like getting married, moving or having a baby. For some people, stress becomes so overwhelming that it can lead to a stress-related disorder such as:

  • Tension, Chronic or Migraine Headaches
  • Intestinal disorders and Changes in Appetite
  • Fatigue and Irritability
  • Memory Loss and Withdrawal
  • Tooth-Grinding
  • Cold Hands and Feet
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Lowered Sexual Drive
  • Insomnia and other changes in Sleep Patterns
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Chronic pain syndromes

Dr. Hans Selye, stress expert and author of Stress Without Distress, said that it is not stress that is harmful - it is distress. Distress occurs when unresolved emotional stress is prolonged and not dealt with in a positive way.

Stress can also make an existing medical condition such as high blood pressure worse. Some people may suffer from specific anxiety disorders, which are different from everyday stress and anxiety. Anxiety disorders are medical conditions with particular symptoms. They may be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The two most common types of anxiety disorders are: Generalized anxiety disorder -- chronic, exaggerated worry about everyday occurrences and Panic disorder -- a feeling of terror that strikes suddenly without warning and may last only a few minutes.

When we perceive an immediate threat or become frightened, the body responds automatically, preparing us to fight or to flee. This important survival mechanism is called the fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight response involves the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary functions, such as heart rate, breathing and digestion. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two parts:

  • The sympathetic nervous system, which generally speeds up necessary bodily functions when we are angry or frightened
  • The parasympathetic nervous system, which slows down specific bodily functions and relaxes certain muscles not required during threatening or frightening situations.

Over the course of months or years, repeated activations of the fight-or-flight response caused by stress or anxiety can bring about harmful physical changes to the body. While stress is often viewed as a mental or psychological problem, it has very real physical effects. The body responds to stress with a series of physiological changes that include elevation of blood pressure, acceleration of the heartbeat, and greater tension in the muscles. When we are threatened, the sympathetic nervous system triggers the adrenal glands to send adrenaline into the bloodstream to mobilize the body. As the heart speeds up, pumping more blood and energizing the muscles, breathing becomes more rapid, to make more oxygen available to vital organs. Blood flows toward vital organs, such as the brain, and away from the skin, making hands and feet feel cold. Energized from the oxygen-rich blood, muscles tighten up in preparation for fighting or running away. . Digestion slows or stops, fats and sugars are released from stores in the body, cholesterol levels rise, and the composition of the blood changes slightly, making it more prone to clotting. When we are psychologically threatened, the body still responds the same way - almost all body functions and organs react to stress -- although we are not likely to run away or fight in this situation. The pituitary gland increases its production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which in turn stimulates the release of the hormones cortisone and cortisol. These have the effect of inhibiting the functioning of disease-fighting white blood cells and suppressing the immune response.

Once you have been diagnosed with a stress- or anxiety-related disorder you will want to deal with the underlying cause of your stress while continuing to treat any medical problems brought on or made worse by stress or anxiety. It is important to recognize that problems with stress and anxiety can decrease your quality of life. Help is available. It does take time and energy to address these issues with a trained health care provider.

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Glossary of Terms

A hormone of the adrenal glands, also known as epinephrine; stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to prepare for fight-or-flight.
An irrational fear of open spaces; marked fear of being in a public place where escape would be difficult and help unlikely.
A class of drugs used to treat depression; some are useful for anxiety disorders.
Anxiety Disorders
Medical conditions, marked by feeling of apprehension that can prevent people from coping with their problems and can disrupt their daily lives.
Autonomic Nervous System
Regulates involuntary bodily functions; includes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
A class of drugs used to treat anxiety disorders; most take effect quickly and are mildly addictive; larger doses cause sedation.
A relaxation training technique in which patients are connected to a machine that records information about their influence on muscle tension, blood flow and/or breathing.
Clinical Psychologist
A mental health professional who can provide individual or group therapy.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
A treatment method to change how patients respond to stress or anxiety; may use techniques such as imaging, conditioning and monitoring.
Fight-or-Flight Response
Bodily changes that occur when a threat is perceived; acts as a survival mechanism.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
A medical condition characterized by unrealistic or excessive worries about everyday issues.
Panic Disorder
A medical condition marked by feelings of terror that strike suddenly; symptoms can be so severe that some people think they're having a heart attack.
A physician (MD or DO) who diagnoses and treats patients with mental disorders; can prescribe medications.
Stress-Related Disorder
A medical condition that occurs as a result of exposure to a stressful event or events.

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