Psychological and medical researchers have long recognized a link between the volatile emotions that stress and anxiety breed and physical maladies such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hair loss, obesity, etc. Now there is increasing evidence that less volatile emotions, such as stress depression and sadness, are just as connected to these same physical symptoms.
In some ways it is odd to think that stress can trigger both the volatile emotions of anger and frustration and the docile emotions of depression and sadness. Also interesting is how these opposite extremes of emotion can negatively impact your body in exactly the same ways. Many studies have confirmed that people suffering from chronic stress depression are much more likely to get sick, and even die prematurely, than those who do not suffer from this debilitating syndrome.
While both sexes have been found to be susceptible to the same medical conditions as a result of exposure to severe chronic stress and anxiety, men and women seem to travel different paths in arriving at that point. Men tend to express their stress and anxiety through anger and frustration and women tend to internalize their emotions, which are more often reflected in feelings of sadness and depression.
Exposing the Stress Depression Link
Apparently, depression can be triggered by an over stimulation of your body’s hormonal system, which itself can be triggered by excessive amounts of stress and anxiety. The stress hormone “cortisol” is believed to be the primary hormonal culprit in the stress depression link. There is speculation that the onset of stress depression is actually a defense mechanism the body uses to counteract the stimulating effects of stress.
The theory goes something like this. Stress stimulates the body into a state of overexcitement. Prolonged stress keeps the body in a perpetual state of overexcitement, which the body then tries to self-regulate by releasing hormones to bring the body “back down” from this over stimulation. Over time, and as a result of their constantly being released into the system, these hormones tend to over-correct, which can lead to chronic depression.
It’s a nasty cycle and it is not hard to see how over time the body’s internal chemical balance can be thrown completely off kilter, which then leads to a range of stress depression related illnesses. While there is debate amongst researchers with respect to the exact mechanisms through which stress depression causes illness, a general consensus seems to be forming with respect to the reality of a stress depression and illness connection.
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