Chronic Stress – Its Effects, How to Measure and How to Treat it

90% of all chronic diseases are due to the effects of Chronic Stress! Yes, that is correct. According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), 90% of all chronic difficult diseases are due to the existence of chronic stress.

Some Science

Stress is a biological response to demanding situations. It causes the body to release hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones help prepare the body to take action, for example by increasing the heart and breath rates. When this occurs, a doctor might describe a person as being in a state of heightened alertness or arousal.

Many factors can trigger a stress response, including dangerous situations and psychological pressures, such as work deadlines, exams, and sporting events.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, 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.

Cortisol also reduces functions that would be non-essential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with the brain regions that control mood, motivation and fear.

The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived 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, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on.

The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Frequent infections or illnesses
  • Nervousness
  • Feeling helpless
  • A perceived loss of control

How to Measure it

At the Swiss Biological Medicine Center, we use a scientifically proven diagnosis, called Heart Rate Variability Analysis. HRV analysis offers the opportunity to detect imminent functional regulatory disorders at an early stage, to diagnose chronic stress effects on the organism and to better assess individual coping processes in the course of disease progression. As an adjunct to the patient’s history, HRV analysis provides a valuable contribution to the overall patient assessment. Ultimately, it also offers the opportunity to make patients aware of their body regulation, draw attention to their own resources. Through HRV analysis combined with other specialised diagnostics and questionnaires we clearly demonstrate the systemic functional importance of the autonomic nervous system and the activities of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system for risk stratification, health prognosis and day-to-day stress management.

Chronic Stress Management and Treatment of Underlying Diseases

At the Swiss Biological Medicine Center we provide a tailor-made plan to tackle chronic stress and its underlying symptoms or diseases that it causes.

Part of the overall treatment plan used, include acupuncture, changes in nutrition, detoxification and hormonal balance and regulation, allowing the patient to live a healthy and meaningful life.