Published on September 30th, 2021 | by Natural Awakenings Publishing Corp.0
The Stress Pandemic
We are all too familiar by now with talk of the so-called “two pandemics”: the Covid-virus-caused medical pandemic and the related economic pandemic, with loss of jobs, closing of businesses, and in some cases, loss of home. But, not well-hidden beneath these two is the pandemic of perhaps greatest magnitude, namely, the Pandemic of Stress. Few if any have been able to completely bypass the stressful realities of the past year. We have all encountered isolation, being shut in and separated from friends and family, being precluded from doing what we enjoy, fear of the disease, fear of financial instability, issues in caring for loved ones or in getting children though school and through life, loss of interest in personal care, weight gain from boredom and inactivity, and a general pervasive angst that things may indeed never return to a true “pre-Covid normal” again – and what that may look like. All of this adds up to perhaps the greatest Stress Pandemic of our collective lifetime.
So, it is important to notice that when we undergo stress, be it medical, financial, emotional, or spiritual, the stress itself has impacts on our bodies that go far beyond the initial effects of the original cause of the stress. And the longer it persists the greater the role that stress will play in affecting long-term outcomes, the greater the post-stress residual effect.
Stress is far cry from simply “feeling upset or anxious”, though it may begin that way, and this is surely part of it. In fact, enduring stress can ultimately affect every system in your body. Even after the initial problem is gone – for example, when Covid cases are down to insubstantial numbers – the effects of stress may remain and need to be addressed as independent problems, as they may not easily resolve on their own.
A brief look at some of the conditions that stress can create over time includes:
1 – Stress can manifest in cardiovascular problems, such as elevated blood pressure, or acute coronary syndromes that may be life-threatening
2 – Stress and overeating go hand-in-hand, and the physical and mental issues associated with weight gain and poor food choices are far too many to list in this limited space
3 – Stress often manifests in G.I. problems, some in the auto-immune family,, and considerable gastrointestinal pain or poor digestion may be associated
4 – Neurological issues such as chronic headaches and dizziness can begin with long-standing stress
5 – Inflammation via stress can cause joint pain, hair loss, skin rashes, allergies and other inflammatory and/or auto-immune phenomena
6 – In a stressed state, the immune system suffers, and any sort of infectious or malignant invader can find a vulnerable home
7- Stress can lead to a profound level of fatigue that does not respond readily to naps or to extra sleep via “adrenal exhaustion”. Often, ironically, healthful sleep can be disrupted
8 – Depression, anxiety, personality changes and addictions that can make life miserable or non-functional can all ensue from stress.
The take-home point is that getting vaccinated or similar, and reducing Covid numbers is essential, to be sure, but it is equally critical to acknowledge the longer term effects that may outlast Covid, and to consult a physician who can provide you with expert advice as to how to restore your personal health at all levels following months of living through the ravaging Pandemic of Stress that each of us had been through, and that continues to this day.
Robin Ellen Leder, M.D. was mentored by Robert Atkins, M.D. of “The Atkins Diet” fame, and has been practicing integrative/alternative medicine for over 30 years at her own office, A Better Alternative Medical Center, in Hackensack, NJ.