Today it is difficult to find an adult who does not suffer from stress. Covid epidemic, war, the threat of hunger, mental and physical stress everywhere lead to the emergence and development of chronic stress. And chronic stress leads to burnout syndrome, a decrease in the physical and psychological capabilities of the body, and different diseases. In this article, we’ll try to figure out the signs of stress, how to get rid of it, prevent it from appearing in the future and enjoy life.

What is stress?

Stress is a mismatch between our individual needs and capabilities. When an imbalance of “pressure” occurs, the victim feels stress. It can be both at the level of cells – for example, oxidative stress, and at the level of the whole organism. Stress can also be divided into short-term and chronic. Depending on the strength of stress factors and the compensatory capacity of the body, short-term stress can bring not only harm, but also benefit.

For example, short-term one-time stress may cause a positive effect. In response to a stimulus, the body produces three hormones: cortisone, adrenaline, noradrenaline and activates the cells of the immune system (1).

Thanks to this, in a person for a short period:

If a person is systematically exposed to a stress factor, all his organs and systems work hard. As a result, the body intensively wastes energy, which leads to the emergence of various diseases. This is called chronic stress.

Causes of stress

Allocate systemic and mental types of impact of a stress factor. The systemic type is the body’s response to an infectious disease, inflammation, injury, light, high or low temperature (2). Mental type – manifests itself in the emotional and mental sphere, followed by the biological level.

Mental causes of stress include:

The consequences of prolonged stress in men and women are the same – depression and somatic diseases. Therefore, it is important to timely note the signs of psychophysical stress, identify its causes, and eliminate them.

Symptoms of chronic stress

Constant nervous tension is accompanied by unpleasant symptoms (2). They are associated with the action of hormones that affect the body of men and women in different ways.

There are universal signs of prolonged stress:

Against the background of physical and psychological exhaustion, a person’s resistance to infectious diseases also decreases.

By the way, stress may have different symptoms in men and women (3).

If a man is constantly in a state of psychological stress, this greatly affects his health. Glucocorticoids reduce the sensitivity of tissues to sex hormones, so one of the symptoms of stress in men is a decrease in libido, a weakening of potency. A decrease in sexual function is an additional stress factor for a man. There is anxiety that impotence will develop, etc.

In women, hormonal disruptions during stress affect the menstrual cycle. There may be delays, bleeding in the middle of the cycle, etc. Glucocorticoids reduce protein anabolism, and fat synthesis, on the contrary, is activated. One of the manifestations of chronic stress in women is weight gain. Fat appears on the abdomen and buttocks. Muscle mass in the legs and arms is reduced.

Pathophysiology of stress

From the scientists’ point of view, stress is more than just a feeling of anxiety, it is a reaction that affects all organs of the body.

In stressful situations, our brain releases neurotransmitters from nerve cells, which in turn trigger many different behaviors and emotions. These include, for example, heightened feelings of fear, hunger, attention, or sexual desire. These reactions to stress give a person the ability to adapt to various challenges and reconfigure the body’s biosystems (1).

In addition to many neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, or gamma-aminobutyrate, there are primarily two stress hormones that are involved in the development of stress responses (4). Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and vasopressin indirectly increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn increases blood glucose levels. Sugar is the main energy supplier, only the brain consumes about 20%. At the same time, cortisol has a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effect. Thus, it controls the micro-inflammatory processes that occur during stress. After the end of a stressful situation, the body regulates the level of cortisol, pulse rate, and pressure, returning to its original state. Our emotional state shifts from fear to relaxation and joy. But with prolonged stress, the body cannot return to normal. As a result, blood pressure and pulse increase, disorders of the cardiovascular system may develop, a person becomes more susceptible to infections, fears, sleep disturbances, burnout syndrome, and depression appear. Each cell evaluates its environment and reacts with stress if the information received is judged to be dangerous or disturbing. In this way, stress responses can be triggered “from within” and affect the rest of the body (3).

How to deal with chronic stress

The belief that stress does not require treatment is a dangerous delusion. A chronic state of tension can lead to depression, post-traumatic syndrome, neurosis, neurodermatitis, peptic ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract, and bronchial asthma (5). Thus, it is necessary to recognize diseases caused by stress as systemic. Accordingly, the treatment of chronic stress should also be comprehensive. In the chain of psycho-neuro-endocrine immunological treatment of stress, along with the classical approach of psychotherapy or coaching, attention should also be paid to the restoration of the immune response and the microbiome, the protection of the cell’s metabolism.

If you are worried about emotional discomfort, the severity of symptoms increases, moreover, there are somatic reactions, make an appointment with a psychotherapist. The doctor will determine the stage of stress, help to find unconscious stress factors, and select a method of successful treatment that will protect against serious complications. In addition, a variety of biologically active substances are widely used to strengthen our immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems for the prevention of somatic reactions to stress and a speedy recovery.

For example, Neotosil® can be called a special antistress treatment due to its components -a targeted complex of bioavailable polyphenols with a complete nutrient spectrum and bioactive vitamins C, E, B12, folic acid, and beta-carotene (provitamin A) with increased availability. This combination of vitamins, polyphenols, and nutrients has been specially designed for the needs of modern man, who is daily exposed to various stressors that reduce natural resistance (ie immune system function) and accelerate degenerative processes (6). Neotosil® is targeted to help reduce oxidative stress, fatigue, and exhaustion and normalize the psychological functioning of the organism. Also, it renovates and balances our microbiome which has crucial importance for strong immunity and good functioning of the nervous system (7).Another supplement that should be added to a diet during stress is Premium Asta – Omega 3®, which has a huge potential in fighting stress. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be crucial for brain development and function, cognitive ability, preventing age-related decline in mental ability, and supporting the maintenance of normal visual function. Also, there is evidence for an adaptive role of the omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during stress. Mechanisms of action may involve the regulation of stress mediators, such as catecholamines and proinflammatory cytokines. Prevention of stress-induced aggression and hostility was demonstrated in a series of clinical trials (8). And Astaxanthin in Premium Asta – Omega 3® is one of the most powerful antioxidants, thus helping to protect cells against oxidative stress and restoring normal cell metabolism (9).

Methods for restoring the body after stress

Recovery of the body begins with the elimination of the causes of stress. For this, the following can be recommended:

Dr. Oksana Klymenko M.D., PhD, 
SNHS Dip. (Holistic Nutrition), Medical Doctor, Researcher in the fields 
of molecular physiology and pathophysiology, 
molecular biology, genetics, cell biology

References:

  1. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Renna ME, Shrout MR, Madison AA. Stress Reactivity: What Pushes Us Higher, Faster, and Longer—and Why It Matters. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2020;29:492–498;
  2. Turner AI, Smyth N, Hall SJ, Torres SJ, Hussein M, Jayasinghe SU, et al. Psychological stress reactivity and future health and disease outcomes: A systematic review of prospective evidence. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2020:104599;
  3. Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057-1072. Published 2017 Jul 21. doi:10.17179/excli2017-480;
  4. Tsigos C, Kyrou I, Kassi E, et al. Stress: Endocrine Physiology and Pathophysiology. [Updated 2020 Oct 17]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278995/;
  5. Mariotti A. The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain-body communication. Future Sci OA. 2015;1(3):FSO23. Published 2015 Nov 1. doi:10.4155/fso.15.21;
  6. Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutr J. 2010;9:42. Published 2010 Oct 7. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-42;
  7. Zhang N, Liao X, Zhang Y, Li M, Wang W, Zhai S. Probiotic supplements for relieving stress in healthy participants: A protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(20):e15416. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000015416;
  8. Bradbury J, Myers SP, Oliver C. An adaptogenic role for omega-3 fatty acids in stress; a randomised placebo controlled double blind intervention study (pilot) [ISRCTN22569553]. Nutr J. 2004;3:20. Published 2004 Nov 28. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-3-20;
  9. Sztretye M, Dienes B, Gönczi M, et al. Astaxanthin: A Potential Mitochondrial-Targeted Antioxidant Treatment in Diseases and with Aging. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019;2019:3849692. Published 2019 Nov 11. doi:10.1155/2019/3849692.

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