The Role of Emotional Stress in the Development of Illness
Article from Gemma Fallon
Modern medicine provides outstanding care when it comes to advanced pain relief, surgery and life saving intensive care support, but has been rather slow to catch up with what alternative therapists have been saying for decades: the mind and the body are one and in order to attain full and vibrant health, the person must be treated on a holistic ‘whole body’ level. This may be why pharmaceutical medicines are effective at easing or stopping symptoms and giving the appearance of wellness but not so good at bringing about a permanent cure. They modulate the symptoms that are only an expression of disease, often without getting to the root cause of the problem.
Anxiety Increases Inflammation and Causes Depression
The field of psychosomatic medicine is beginning to catch on to holistic principle and in 2014 doctors discovered a key link between the mind and the immune system when they identified an inflammatory response from the immune system with an increased risk of developing depression. Inflammation is a normal, healthy response to illness or injury, caused by white blood cells rushing to the affected site to kill off pathogens or assist in the healing process. This rush of cells causes the characteristic redness and swelling associated with inflammation. There are trace amounts of inflammatory proteins in the body even when the person is well.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge in the UK followed 4,500 children of the 90’s – taking blood tests at age nine and again at age 18 to see what level of inflammatory markers they had. The young people with the highest amount were almost two times more likely to have had depression or psychosis compared with those who had only a small amount. The same research suggested that a hypersensitive inflammatory response from the immune system may be a cause for coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The lead researcher, Peter Jones, suggested that early life adversity and stress leads to a increase in inflammatory markers and influences physical and mental health – making a person more susceptible to chronic illness.
Some other illnesses now known to have a link with emotions include:
Tako-Tsubo cardiomyopathy – TTC, heart condition in which the left ventricular wall doesn’t have correct motion, causing symptoms similar to that of coronary heart disease. This is sometimes called Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Disease because it has a direct link to psychological distress. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders feature the case of a woman who developed TTC after a miscarriage and the premature birth of a daughter.
Joint Hypermobility – Joint hypermobility is genetically inheritable but seems to be triggered by stress in those who carry the gene. Anxiety causes the abnormal formation of collagen.
Recurrent Chronic Cystitis – Doctors are increasingly realising that recurrent inflammation of the bladder is the result of emotions affecting the brain and hormone regulation. A case report of one middle aged woman with chronic cystitis detailed how she was successfully cured with a mind-body approach to her treatment.
Skin Diseases – Diseases like rhinovirus and Coxsackie virus are more severe if the person is stressed. Stress is also thought to have an impact in the development of allergic dermatitis, psoriasis and even skin cancer.
Did you know, cancer spreads faster if you think negatively?
Headaches and Migraine – People who have high levels of stress are more likely to have headaches or migraines. They also have a higher chance of gastrointestinal symptoms and musculoskeletal pain. Highly stressed women tend to have frequent infections.
Think Yourself Well!
Just as illnesses can be triggered by emotional states, they can also be cured by them. By replacing negative thoughts with positive ones and changing old thought patterns. Energy psychology is a great way to do this.
Energy psychology offers an easy way to take control of negative thoughts and improve health in simple steps:
1. Focus on the problem or the situation that causes anxiety and then purposefully bring to mind alternative, positive affirmations regarding the situation or life in general. Saying regular daily affirmations or writing them down in a book can have a wonderful, empowering effect on mind and body. The most famous example of a person who did this was Louise Hay, an American woman with a history of abuse who cured herself of vaginal cancer by positive thought.
2. Focus on the situation that causes anxiety and then use an acupressure technique to re-direct negative energy, forcing it to change so that the anxiety symptoms are also forced to change. This can be done by tapping on specific acupuncture points that correspond to the area of the body that is manifesting illness. Changing the energy pattern can change the behavior pattern that also changes the illness pattern.
3. Mindful, focused breathing can be done and will similarly alter negative energy flows so the person feels more centred and calm. This is a form of mindful meditation in which relaxation and controlled breathing help to de-stress the individual, as well as oxygenating their brain and bringing about an altered state of consciousness that is highly aware and more objective. Apart from providing an opportunity for the person to remove themselves from the daily stresses of life, it could assist them in finding solutions to problems or developing a new outlook.
4. Focusing on the good stuff. It sounds simple, but replacing negativity with thoughts of the people and things that are enjoyed, can bring powerful changes. Some people like to write in a ‘Gratitude Journal’, that is, a book where they can record the things they are grateful for each day.
For more information about how you can heal yourself and reduce pain with energy psychology, contact us about our range of books and seminars.