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  • Jones Chiropractic

Stress Affects Your Health

Have you ever experienced a traumatic event? If you have you are not alone. A recent survey of Americans found that 9 out of every 10 people have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life. If you have experienced a traumatic event, the experience could have affected your health and well-being as stress impacts your brain in a very specific way.

90% of Americans have experienced a least one traumatic event in their life

Sympathetic Nervous System

Your brain would have activated your sympathetic nervous system that releases hormones that flood your brain and body with adrenalin and cortisol. The brain’s alarm system – the emotional limbic part of your brain – is responsible for this and it also turns off your logical rational thinking part of your brain – the prefrontal cortex.


If you suspect your current health concerns could be due traumatic events from your past, seek help from trained health care providers, exercise regularly, do yoga and mindfulness meditation and regularly go see your family chiropractor so you can relax easier, feel better, be more resilient and function at your best! 


Video Transcript

Have you ever experienced a traumatic event?


If you have you are not alone. A recent survey of Americans found that 9 out of every 10 people have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life.1 


But did you know that such experiences could be affecting your health and well-being? The stress of the traumatic event impacts your brain in a very specific way.2, 3 


Your brain would have activated your sympathetic nervous system and releases hormones that flood your brain and body with Adrenalin and cortisol. 2, 3 The brain’s alarm system- the emotional limbic part of your brain – is responsible for this and it also turns off your logical rational thinking part of your brain – the prefrontal cortex! 2, 3


You will likely experience this by feeling emotional, either sad or angry or frightened. And you will not be able to think clearly. You may snap, or scream or cry, or lash out in anger. 


The problem is that it does not end here. A traumatic event can actually change the way your brain responds from that day onwards. After a traumatic experience, anything that even vaguely reminds your brain about what happened will again cause very specific changes in your brain.4, 5 Your brain’s alarm system can become hyper-vigilant!6 


The brain doesn’t forget.6 This means that anything even vaguely similar to that traumatic event will trigger another emotional storm in your brain. Over time this can impact your brain and body in many ways. 


Because of these changes to the brain, you can end up with a variety of health problems, such as anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder.3, 7-9 It may trigger bipolar disorder and is known to influence schitzophrenia.10


But it’s not just mental health problems that can occur due to traumatic experiences. The changes that happen in the brain also impact the rest of your body. You may end up with high blood pressure, increased heart rate and high breathing rates. This puts extra stress on your cardiovascular system. Your immune system may also be affected and you can end up with higher levels of inflammation. There are a whole host of health problems that are linked with high inflammation and a weakened immune system!!


You may also end up with difficulty focusing and paying attention. A host of digestive system problems are also linked to these stress-induced changes that occur in the brain due to traumatic experiences! And your muscles can get stiff, tight and sore. Stress also turns off your small muscles close to your spine and skull11 making it harder for your brain to know accurately what is going on in and around you.12 


If you think your health concerns are the result of your traumatic experiences it’s important you seek help from experienced health care providers. You may need help from several different health care providers depending on what sorts of symptoms you have. We are all so different and stressful events can affect us in different ways. 


If you have ended up with mental health problems it’s important to seek professional advice from a trained mental health practitioner. They can help you in many ways. They can help you by reframing your experiences and calming your brain down so it stops being so overreactive. Exercising is also known to be very helpful. It helps pump out all the cortisol and Adrenalin from your body and can help limber up your stiff sore muscles. Even as little as a short walk every day will help. Mindfulness meditation and yoga can also be very helpful. Both can help you be more present in your body and your mind, which is key to calming down your brain’s over-reactive alarm system. Eating healthy natural foods is also very helpful. Your brain and body are already stressed so do not need the additional burden of having to deal with artificial chemicals in processed foods. 


It’s also a great idea to regularly see your family chiropractor. Your chiropractor can activate your small muscles closest to your spine and skull which will help your brain know more accurately what is going on inside your body and the world around you. Chiropractic care also provides you with a safe touch that can be very healing. And we know chiropractic adjustments change processing in the part of your brain called the prefrontal cortex. You want this part of your brain working as well as it can. This part of your brain helps you think clearly and rationally and is connected to your calming and healing nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system. This is probably why so many people who see chiropractors report they feel better, relax easier and cope more. 


So if you suspect your current health concerns could be due to traumatic events from your past do seek help from trained health care providers, exercise regularly, do yoga and mindfulness meditation and regularly go see your family chiropractor so you can relax easier, feel better, be more resilient and function at your best! 


Video References

  1. Kilpatrick DG, Resnick HS, Milanak ME, Miller MW, Keyes KM, Friedman MJ. National estimates of exposure to traumatic events and PTSD prevalence using DSM‐IV and DSM‐5 criteria. J Trauma Stress. 2013;26(5):537-547.

  2. Arnsten AF. Stress signalling pathways that impair prefrontal cortex structure and function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 2009;10(6):410.

  3. Arnsten AF, Raskind MA, Taylor FB, Connor DF. The effects of stress exposure on prefrontal cortex: Translating basic research into successful treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. Neurobiology of stress. 2015;1:89-99.

  4. Thayer JF, Åhs F, Fredrikson M, Sollers III JJ, Wager TD. A meta-analysis of heart rate variability and neuroimaging studies: implications for heart rate variability as a marker of stress and health. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012;36(2):747-756.

  5. Moench KM, Wellman CL. Review article: Stress-induced alterations in prefrontal dendritic spines: Implications for post-traumatic stress disorder. Neurosci Lett. 8/5/5 August 2015 2015;601:41-45.

  6. Van der Kolk BA. The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma: Penguin Books; 2015.

  7. Eden AS, Schreiber J, Anwander A, et al. Emotion regulation and trait anxiety are predicted by the microstructure of fibers between amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience. 2015;35(15):6020-6027.

  8. Ghosal S, Hare BD, Duman RS. Prefrontal cortex GABAergic deficits and circuit dysfunction in the pathophysiology and treatment of chronic stress and depression. Current opinion in behavioral sciences. 2017;14:1-8.

  9. Treadway MT, Waskom ML, Dillon DG, et al. Illness progression, recent stress, and morphometry of hippocampal subfields and medial prefrontal cortex in major depression. Biological psychiatry. 2015;77(3):285-294.

  10. Webster M, Knable M, Johnston-Wilson N, Nagata K, Inagaki M, Yolken R. Immunohistochemical localization of phosphorylated glial fibrillary acidic protein in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus from patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Brain Behav Immun. 2001;15(4):388-400.

  11. Butler D, Moseley GL. Explain Pain. Adelaide, Australia: Noigroup Publications; 2003.

  12. Haavik H, Murphy B. The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. J Electromyogr Kines. October 2012 2012;22(5):768-776.

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