When a new patient comes into my office for their initial visit, I ask them everything under the sun so I can get a good handle on how their lifestyle impacts their health.
One of the most important questions I ask is, “What is your stress level”?
Most of the patients either say that they have a stressful job, a stressful relationship, or no more stress than usual. The latter generally sends up a red flag for me. If a patient is so used to dealing with stress that they refuse to acknowledge a tough situation, chances are their body is constantly in sympathetic overdrive. While it is often considered a valuable skill to be able to multitask and “keep your cool”, it can often lead to health problems down the road.
Emotional stress, mental stress, and physical stress all negatively impact the body’s ability to function properly and to heal. Physical stresses include poor diet, structural misalignment, inactivity, over activity, alcohol and drug use, pollution, and many other things. Emotional stressors can be both present and past events, interactions, and abuse. Mental stress is generally easier to pinpoint, whether it is job related, family related or traffic related, etc.
Any type of stress can lead to physical problems and preexisting physical stress can cause an avalanche of other physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Below are some examples of what can occur, which is the reason I want to look at the "whole person" for a thorough assessment.
Physical Problems Related to Stress