Stress Kills; The Destructive Force of Stress on the Body

Stress Kills; The Destructive Force of Stress on the Body

Editor: Philip Ragner | Tactical Investor

Stress Kills?

Inflammatory cytokines are chemicals released by the immune system activating armies of cells to attack invaders such as viruses, pathogenic bacteria, or cancer. The problem is that our immune system can be over-activated and lead to autoimmune disease. Most modern chronic disease, including atherosclerosis and depressive disorders, are associated with elevations in these cytokines, elevations in autoimmunity, and diseases that linger and are difficult to eradicate and treat. The connection is confirmed by many other studies linking a history of trauma (all sorts) to elevations in cytokines.

Left unchecked it appears that stress kills the body; it’s like dying via a 1000 cuts.

The down-low is that stress is linked to bad cytokines (IL-6, TNF alpha, C reactive protein, etc.) and that stress is linked to PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder and anxiety disorders which are also linked to the bad cytokines… as is cardiovascular disease, even in psychologically healthy individuals. In addition, there are harmful behaviours which increase the inflammatory cytokines (substance abuse, smoking), and ameliorating behaviours that decrease them (exercise, meditation, sleep) less likely to be adhered to by those who have undergone inordinate psychological stress.  Full Story

Stress linked with elevated inflammation in heart patients

If your heart gives out, its game over and so we have yet another piece of evidence indicating that stress kills.

In the first study to examine the relationship between cumulative traumatic stress exposure and inflammation, the scientists found that the more traumatic stress a patient was exposed to over the course of a lifetime, the greater the chances the patient would have elevated levels of inflammatory markers in his or her bloodstream.

“This may be significant for people with cardiovascular disease because we know that heart disease patients with higher levels of inflammation tend to have worse outcomes,” said lead author Aoife O’Donovan, PhD, a Society in Science: Branco Weiss Fellow in psychiatry at SFVAMC and UCSF.

The study was published electronically in February in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

The authors looked at exposures to 18 different types of traumatic events, all of which involved either experiencing or witnessing a direct a threat to life or physical integrity, in 979 patients age 45 to 90 with stable heart disease. They then measured a number of clinical markers of inflammation that circulate in the bloodstream and found a direct correlation between the degree of stress exposure and levels of inflammation.

Five years later, they measured the surviving patients’ inflammation markers again and found that the patients who had originally reported the highest levels of trauma at the beginning of the study still had the highest levels of inflammation.

“Even though we lost some study participants because they died, we still observed the same relationship in those who remained,” O’Donovan said. “This suggests that it wasn’t just the people who were  the sickest at the outset who was driving this effect Full Story

Stress Can Kill You

During the meeting, the stress and shame she felt as a failed mother was so intense that she began to feel horrible chest pressure. In the next ten minutes, I performed a procedure that showed that she had normal heart arteries, unusual for a heart attack, but she had a lot of damage to the heart muscle.

Fortunately, with proper medication, nutrition, and vitamin support, she completely recovered her heart strength within four weeks and is doing fine.

She demonstrated, however, one of the most convincing arguments that stress can cause dis-ease, even acute illness. Her problem is referred to as the “broken heart syndrome” and almost always manifests in women with some extreme psychological distress. Some patients even experience the “broken heart syndrome” more than once and need to focus on anger and stress management long term.

Stress as a contributor to heart disease has been accepted by the medical community at least since the 1970s with the publication of the book Type A Behavior and Your Heart by Drs. Friedman and Rosenman.

Since then, factors such as low self-esteem, low socioeconomic status, inadequate social support, anger, hostility, and hopelessness have all been identified as causes of disease.

Stress may translate to dis-ease by altering the sympathetic nervous system (elevated adrenaline), the adrenal axis (elevated cortisol that may transition to decreased cortisol and adrenal fatigue),  Full Story

Stress Is Killing You

Nervous System

The brain changes in response to experiences and the environment. This is especially true in childhood when key structures—such as the amygdala, involved in the fight-or-flight center—develop. Extreme childhood adversity can alter these structures and impact mental health later in life. An estimated 30 per cent of anxiety disorders are linked to early trauma.

Cardiovascular System

According to the American Heart Association, stress may indirectly influence cardiovascular health through high blood pressure as well as unhealthy behaviours, including overeating and smoking.

Digestive System

The brain and the digestive tract are in constant communication, says Emeran Mayer, a gastroenterologist at UCLA. Unsurprisingly, chronic stress is associated with painful gastrointestinal issues. People with IBS are also more likely to suffer from stress-related psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression.


The chronically stressed have unusually short telomeres, putting them at risk for many age-related illnesses. The effects can be dramatic: In 2014, researchers found that disadvantaged 9-year-old boys had telomeres 19 per cent shorter than those from more stable environments.

Immune System

Research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that stress even makes us more vulnerable to the common cold. In 2012, the scientists found a likely culprit: In a healthy body, cortisol helps suppress inflammation. But the chronically stressed have consistently elevated cortisol levels, so the immune system grows resistant to the hormone, effectively ignoring it. Inflammation-causing proteins called cytokines—associated with developing a cold—then go unchecked.

Metabolic System

High cortisol levels boost the amount of fat around the belly. Extra abdominal fat may increase the risk for diabetes, which in turn may impair the stress response in the brain, says Antonio Convit, a psychiatrist at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research. The system that inhibits cortisol in the brain doesn’t work normally in people with type-2 diabetes. These patients also have blunted levels of cortisol when they wake up in the morning, as well as damage to the hippocampus, a brain region with concentrated cortisol receptors that is especially vulnerable to chronic stress.

Stress Kills

Full Story

Traumatic events equate to higher levels of stress

When a traumatic event such as the Florida school shooting takes place, often the focus afterwards is on finding ways to make sure students and teachers are safe from violence and physical harm.

But there’s another danger that threatens teacher well-being that is often overlooked. The threat is stress — and it is something that nearly half of all teachers say they experience at a high level every day.
If teachers already face high levels of occupational stress, it’s not hard to see how the recent spate of deadly school shootings – coupled with the idea that teachers should arm themselves to protect themselves and their students – can elevate their stress levels even higher.

School leaders can help reduce teacher stress by cultivating working conditions that support teachers.

We make these observations as researchers affiliated with the Center for Research on School Safety, School Climate, and Classroom Management at Georgia State University. Among other things, our research focuses on fostering better school and workplace relationships and cultivating safe learning environments. Read more

Teachers experience less stress and commit to jobs more often under satisfactory working conditions. The working conditions that lead to the most job satisfaction involve administrative and collegial support. In other words, teachers need their leaders to provide constructive feedback that helps improve their performance. Read more


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