Know your Seven Signs of Stress
When we are stressed our bodies respond by releasing the stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase blood output and boost our energy levels. The problem is when we try to cope with sustained stress it comes at a price.
We all know that caregiving can be stressful at times. But caregiving is only one of the things we do that can cause tensions. We are also wives and husbands, mothers and fathers. We have to work (sometimes as caregiver and another job), we have to pay bills, and more besides. It means we generally operate on a daily level of stress and sometimes we are very stressed. Cortisol suppresses our body’s natural repair systems and because our immune system is less effective we have a reduced ability to fight infection and we do not recover as fast. Chronic stress causes other problems too…..
Memory suffers when we are stressed. Sustained exposure to cortisol has a negative effect on our reasoning skills and memory. Stress can often be the reason that older people sometimes worry they may have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Blood pressure is also affected by cortisol. Increasing amounts of cortisol damages the blood vessels by narrowing them. Blood pressure starts to rise as our bodies counteract the diminishing amounts of blood to the vital organs of our bodies. Clots can form more easily and heart disease and strokes can occur.
Information on Vascular dementia.
People with severe depression have high levels of cortisol. Sustained high levels of the hormone suppress neurotransmission in the brain.
Grinding of the teeth (bruxism), is also associated with stress. My friend wakes up with jaw ache and has frequent headaches which her doctor has said is a result of her teeth grinding.
Other conditions such as liver disease, lymphomas, and cancers may develop as a result of a weakened immune system.
Our response to stress can also put us at risk from self inflicted behaviors. Alcohol and other drug use is a common way of coping with stress. Advertising often targets the positive effects of its use by showing people relaxing and having fun in social settings. But we all know that if caregivers are socially isolated their use of alcohol and other drugs can be damaging if excessive.
People sometimes put others before themselves and sometimes they have little choice in the matter. We can’t necessarily avoid stress in our lives but it is important to recognize that it exists, that it can lead to ill health if pushed to one side, but that we can do things to help ourselves fend off the worst of its effects.