Stress and Illness & Disease

Stress, Illness & Disease
Presented by:
Steven P. Dion – Salem State College
Sport, Fitness and Leisure Studies Dept.
Does Stress Affect our Health?
If stress alters our Autonomic Nervous System and in turn
our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system to
respond to stressors, those same responses if continued
for an extended period of time can cause malfunctions/
strains on the body.
 Autonomic Nervous System - control all our automatic
bodies responses
 Sympathetic Nervous System - turns on the stress
response - Alarm Phase
 Parasympathetic Nervous System - turns off the stress
response - Resistance phase
Affects on Cardiovascular System
Vasopressin and Oxytocin - increase blood pressure by
contracting the blood vessels and by increasing blood
volume (kidney holds less water - more permeable) and
Aldosterone = sodium retention
 Increased muscle and heart contractions (hypertrophy
of the cardiac muscle)
 Increased serum cholesterol and free fatty acids (for
 Too much stress (sudden) can cause severe shock =
Gastrointestinal System
Decreased saliva = difficulty swallowing
 Increased HCL and Pepsin and increased contraction of
blood vessels in the digestive tract and decrease in
gastric mucus (protective lining) = ulcer creating
bacteria get free reign and other digestive problems.
 Diarrhea (anxiety) and constipation (depression) (due to
Thyroxin = digestive motility)
 Blockage of the Bile ducts (fat breakdown) and
Pancreatic ducts (insulin production) and/or
inflammation of pancreas.
A system of nerve impulses and sensory
preceptors = muscle contractions as well as
bracing and muscle preparation.
 Bracing - the unneeded tension of muscles
preparing to act.
 Increased stress = increased muscle (skeletal and
smooth and cardiac muscle) contractions =
internal health problems such has:
– Hypertension 160/110 systolic over diastolic - the
pressure on the arteries during a heart contraction and
then during no contraction.
– Diarrhea and stomach aches also
Skin: our largest origin
Electrical currents continually being given off as well
as perceived by and from the body. The oil levels and
the bodies temperature are affected by the currents.
 Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) - mood rings and lie
detector tests use the skins temp to measure changes.
 Stress = decrease in skin temperature (blood flowing
away) - vessel constriction due to Norepinepherine in the peripheral body parts.
Because of the over release of Aldosterone,
Vasopressin and Oxytocin the body increases
blood volume by retaining sodium and
increasing kidney permeability and
increasing the contraptions of the blood
 120/80 = normal
 140/90 = baseline hypertension
 160/110 = medical hypertension
Cerebral Hemorrhage
Too much pressure in the brain can cause a
leak or rupture of blood vessels in the brain
- causing an explosion rupture or pooling of
blood which can cause a stroke.
Myocardial infarction
Due to the rupture or clogging of the
coronary arteries. Atherosclerosis and
arteriosclerosis - clogging and hardening of
the arteries. When the arteries rupture or
become clogged, the area of the heart those
arteries were feeding with blood and
oxygen now die = death of that tissue.
Class Activity
Split into groups of 2-3 and, chose an
illness/disease and answer: how does stress
affect / cause/ manifest/ enhance this condition?
Coronary Heart
Migraine Headaches
Tension Headaches
Allergies, Asthma and
Hay fever,
Rheumatoid Arthritis
TMJ syndrome
Post traumatic stress
Additional Key Terms
Psychosomatic Illness
– A disease that is not only in the mid, but also in
the body. You think you are sick, and you get
sick or sicker.
– A physical disease caused by emotional stress.
– The study of the illness-causing and healthy
effects of the mind on the body.
The Immune Response
Phagocytes – (Macrophages) large white blood cells
that surround and engulf invading substances while
summoning helper T cells.
Helper T – identify the invader and stimulate the
multiplication of Killer T cells.
Killer T cells puncture the invaders cell walls and kill
B cells produce antibodies and tag and help kill the
Suppressor T cells – call off the attack when the
invaders are being defeated
Memory T and B’s – left in the blood stream to identify
the foreign invaders quickly if they ever return.
Coronary Heart Disease
During stressful times, the body releases more
serum cholesterol in order to provide more
energy for the body when it begins to respond to
a physical stressor.
 However, if there is no physical reaction to the
stressor, the released fats (triglycerides) are not
used – in turn – they remain in the blood stream
looking for a place to deposit (the brain and
Coronary Heart Disease
Stress elevates blood pressure, heart rate, fluid retention,
and blood volume, resulting in a greater chance of
damage to the coronary arteries.
 The elevated serum cholesterol = more fat in the blood
stream = the eventual depositing of the cholesterol on
the medium to larger arterial walls as plaque causing
atherosclerosis and the eventual loss of elasticity of the
coronary and other arteries called arteriosclerosis.
 Homocystine (an amino acid produced during a
metabolic function – especially when angry) also has
been shown to increase chances of heart disease.
Apoplexy (also termed stroke) is a lack of
oxygen in the brain resulting form a blockage
or rupture of one of the arteries that supply it.
 Stroke is related to hypertension, which may
also result in cerebral hemorrhage (rupture of
blood vessels).
 Stroke is also related to ones dietary habits.
Stress causes the body to release Thyroxin,
Aldosterone and Oxytocin, which all enable
the body to constrict blood vessel and retain
fluids resulting in a much greater blood
 As stated previously, this added pressure
over time can cause severe damage to fragile
Originally thought only to be caused by food and
stress, we now know that stress is a factor, but the
bacteria H pylori is the true culprit.
 However, during a stressful time, there is decreased
blood flow and constriction/bracing of the smooth
muscles of the digestive tract, enabling the bacteria to
attain a better foothold against the host – in turn –
creating an ulcer.
 An ulcer is a cut or fissure in the wall of the stomach,
duodenum or other part s the intestines.
Migraine Headaches
Due to bracing and the stress response, there is a
constriction (preattack) of blood vessels of the
peripheral skin.
 In turn, once the body begins to release from those
stressors, there is a massive return of blood (prodrome)
to the areas that were restricted previously through the
carotid arteries.
 The skull is one area where blood leaves and returns
and when the blood return with some force, the blood
puts additional pressure on the arteries within the skull
and brain, putting pressure on particular pain nerves, in
turn, giving the sensations of pain.
Tension Headaches
Headaches may be caused by muscle tension
accompanying stress.
 The muscle tension may include the forehead,
jaw and neck.
 Treatment ranges from medication (aspirin),
heat on tense muscles, or massage, as well as
stress management exercises.
Although the direct connection with stress and cancer is
not yet solidified – it is known that stress has the ability
to decrease ones immune system.
 The immune system is the primary force against the
growth of abnormal cells.
 Cancer is the rapid growth of abnormal cells.
 Therefore – when the host is under chronic stress, ones
Cortisol levels continue to be elevated, decreasing the
individuals ability to heal and repair and decreasing the
production of white blood cells, in turn, leaving the
person more susceptible to cancerous cell take over.
Allergies / Hay Fever / Asthma
When there is chronic stress – the immune system is
 With a weakened immune system, the body has
more difficulty to withstand the antigen (invaders).
 This increases our allergic responses.
 A strong immune system creates antibodies to fend
off the antigens abilities to release histamines
(mucus and cell swelling causing chemicals).
Rheumatoid Arthritis
This is when the synovial membrane of the joint
swells too fast and causes it to creep into the joint
 Here it begins to wear away its own membrane and
possibly the bone and joint.
 Eventually, the joint becomes immobilized and
 Stresses role again focuses on the immune response.
During prolonged stress, the body has a more difficult
time managing its immune response and in this case,
the immune response turns against its own cells (an
autoimmune response).
As with tension headaches, bracing causes
muscles to lose their elasticity and fatigue
 Bracing may lead to muscle spasms and
back pain.
 This constant muscular contraction is found
in people who are competitive, angry, and
The temporomandibular joint is a complex structure
that requires 5 muscles and several ligament to work.
 TMJ is the interference with the smooth functioning of
the jaw.
 TMJ syndrome sufferers may have facial pain, clicking
or popping sounds when they open or close their
mouth, migraine headaches, earaches, ringing in the
ears, dizziness or sensitive teeth.
 The most common cause is clenching and grinding
ones teeth due to stress.
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
PTSD is a condition that develops in people who have
experienced an extreme psychological and/or physical
event that is interpreted a s particularly distressing.
 It’s more common than expected.
 Most people will experience an extreme stressful event
and 25% will develop PTSD.
 Therefore - if you know you are prone to anxiety
attacks and/or depression, you then have a better
chance of preparing yourself for possibly traumatic
events and in turn, lessoning your chances of a PTSD.