Current estimates show that between 70% and 80% of all visits to physicians are for stress-related disorders. Chronic stress directly affects the immune system and, if not effectively dealt with, can seriously compromise health. Alternative medicine offers many beneficial strategies for reducing stress and its effects, including acupuncture, biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery, and lifestyle counseling, as well as diet and nutritional programs, herbs, and exercise.
Although a certain amount of stress is a normal part of our lives, prolonged bouts of stress can lead to exhaustion and illness, along with more serious health problems.
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Stress can be defined as a reaction to any stimulus or challenge that upsets normal function and disturbs mental or physical health. It can be brought on by internal conditions such as illness, pain, or emotional conflict, or by external circumstances such as a death in the family or financial problems. Even a positive experience—a new marriage, a job promotion, or financial gain—can be a stress-provoking event.
It can also be caused by allergic reactions, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, substance abuse, or biochemical imbalances in the body. These internal imbalances are a major contributing factor to stress. They help to set up a cycle in which a stressor causes a biochemical imbalance in the body; this, in turn, depletes the immune system, causing illness, which creates more stress for the person, and the cycle continues.
Although a certain amount of stress is a normal part of our lives, prolonged bouts of it can lead to exhaustion and illness, along with more serious health problems. Up to 80% of the health problems in America today are considered stress-related. Repeated incidences can interfere with digestion, alter brain chemistry, increase heart rate and blood pressure, and affect metabolic and immune functioning.
Depressed immune function can be associated with many stress-inducing experiences and conditions, including bereavement, divorce, job loss, school or professional examinations, depression, loneliness, and sleep deprivation. Stress is a pervasive problem among Americans, according to a poll of corporate executives. For example, 44% of employees polled said their work load is excessive and 43% are bothered by excessive job pressure; and 55% worry considerably about their company’s future; 25% of both men and women feel stressed out at work every day, another 12% feel it almost every day, and another 38% feel it once to several days a week