Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Can Stress Make You Sick?

Can Stress Make You Sick?
KPTM-Fox 42
Content Edited by Pamela Appea for KPTM-FOX 42’s Website.

Being stressed out is no fun, as most will agree.

But stress can also be unhealthy.

Growing scientific evidence shows too much negative stress in our lives can actually lead to a cold—or event the flu.

And with more than 50 % of American adults saying they’re highly stressed out most all the time. That’s a lot of tissues.

Whether managing her own company, rushing her daughter to piano lessons or whipping up a family meal at home, Donna Abood faces mountains of stress.

“It’s amazing, it really is, how many balls you juggle,” Abood said. “It’s a juggling act doctors say has taken a toll on Diana Abood’s health, at one point even triggering pneumonia. “The doctor took that real seriously and says, you know Donna, you’re just going too fast, too far. And you’ve broken your immune system down,” said Abood.

Mounting scientific evidence now points to a real connection between stress and catching colds, flus and other infections.

“People under high levels of stress are generally over twice as likely to get sick when they’re exposed to a cold virus,” said Dr. Sheldon Cohen, of Carnegie Mellon University.

Dr. Cohen has pioneered research into stress and sickness, and has found chronic stress can be especially devastating to your immune system.

One key trigger is troubled relationships.

People with enduring problems with their friends or with their family were more likely to develop a cold, reported Dr. Cohen.

But the biggest cold producer is workplace stress. Studies show it can actually make you five times more likely to get sick.

Why is that?

People that have high levels of job stress have lower levels of certain antibodies that are associated with effectively fighting off colds and the flu and other types of infections, said Dr. John Schaubroeck of Drexel University.

Dr. Schaubroeck led a recent survey of over 200 working men and women.

He found stress caused by things like low confidence and lack of control can knock you out. So what do you do if you’re all stressed out from dealing with your job, fighting with traffic or family concerns? Well, experts say one of the best things you can possible do to make yourself feel better is to have a simple attitude adjustment.

Sometimes it’s just about really refocusing and saying again, look at the big picture here. Is this worth my time and energy?

“We spend too much time dwelling on the past, things that we can’t change. Too much time worrying about the future, things that haven’t happened yet, and not enough time focusing on the here and now,” said Sarah Moeller Swan, an education consultant for Best Care.

Strategies by which he we can counteract the harmful effects of stress strategies like relaxation response perfected by renowed researchers at the Mind & Body Medical Institute.

“When one sits quietly, focuses on their breathing, repeats a word, a sound, a prayer, a phrase. These steps are quite useful in dealing with stress,” said Dr. Herbert Benson of the Mind & Body Medical Institute.

John Goddard sought relief for his stress, which he says got so bad, it landed him in the hospital.

“I was under stress all the time. So I was sick all the time,” said John Goddard of the constant stress that he faced.

Goddard said practicing the relaxation response helped turn things around.

“Through these wonderful techniques that that I’ve learned, I’ve stopped being sick.”

In Donna Abood’s case, she says taking vitamins every day and working out three times a week has helped keep her colds at bay.

“That little bit makes a world of difference in my life and how I feel today,” said Abood.

Research has also been done on the affects of stress on more serious illnesses.

The results have shown a connection to things like depression, high blood pressure, heart problems. And, ongoing stress could even possibly lead to some types of cancers.

Content from TV Broadcast originally posted on KPTM’s Website www.kptm.com on March 25, 2003