Stress.....The Cause of Mood Disorders
Stress is an intrusion and interrupts our peaceful existence - however, it is part of our daily
life. Stress will stay with us as long as we live. Yet, the effects of that stress and how it affects the
individual varies dramatically. Some people strive on stress, doing their best work under tight and tough
conditions, while others crumble at the slightest pressures. Regardless, continued stress will eventually undermine
the body and mind and in the long term will cause health problems. Acute and extreme stress is seen in some
traumatic experiences - the death of a loved one is at the top of the list. Then there is the chronic and continues
assault of stress, slow burning and undermining our wellbeing.
Today, living in
the 21st centuary, stressors have changed and are nottriggered by the same factors as our
forefathers had to deal with. today our lifestyle is more complex and dynamic.
demanding jobs, busy home-lives and multifaceted relationships. To add to these stressors are the constant
bombardment of breaking news and social media. Information overload comes to mind.
For most of us it is not
possible to live on a mountain top, detached ourselves from society and the life we know – nor should we. The
answer lies in awareness and how to make our body and mind more resilient to the onslaught of stressful situations.
Healthy lifestyle, nutritional factors and some selective supplements are our strongest
Chronic stress, if not managed
properly, disrupts just about every system in the body and undermines not only our physical, but mental health as
well. This can lead to mood disorders like depression, anxiety, insomnia and also encourages substance
What actually happens within
our mind? How does continued stress reshape our brain?
Cortisol is a key culprit.
Elevated levels of cortisol from stress, concentrates its action on the hippocampus (area of the brain critical for
memory and emotional context). Cortisol binds to receptors within the brain region causing damage to neural
dendrites, they retract and eventually die off, which result in the reduction of the size of the hippocampus and
also the prefrontal cortex (area of the brain responsible for stable emotions, decision-making functions). The loss
of neurons diminishes emotional stability and rational thinking, creating a state of excessive worry and sadness.
Studies have shown that in somebody suffering from depression and/or anxiety there was a measurable reduction in
the size of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. In contrast the amygdale (area of the brain involved in fear
response) increase in volume. It is easy to see that those reactions within our brain can lead to excessive
worrying, sadness as well as emotional instability, excessive fear responses and irrational
Statistics show that Australia
has the second highest rate in the world (behind Ireland) for anti-depression prescription per capita and it is
increasing by around 25% per year.
Before we reach for a pill, or
any other substance to make us feel better and help us cope with daily life and its demands let’s consider
healthier alternatives. As said before lifestyle changes, nutrition, and selective supplementation will assist in
becoming more resilient, adaptive and able to cope better. Sure it will take time, effort, dedication and a desire
to live a life of mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, but it is within
An integrated program for mood
disorders recognises the importance of treating the individual and not just concentrating on their symptoms. It can
also be called a stress-less program as the fundamental plan is to re-establish brain balance by relieving the
effects of stress on the system. This, unfortunately, cannot be achieved by simply handing out a pill or two. Since
stress can affects just about every system of the body, it goes without saying that a thorough analysis is required
and a specially designed program must include:
An easy exercise
Actions to be taken towards
improvement of any aspect of the person’s life, including steps for positive
Nutritional assessment and
education is important so the person can make healthy food choices.
Last but not least, it is
vital to prescribe nutritional supplements for balancing brain chemistry and treating deficiencies in the
individual. This can be evaluated through a mood and stress disorder questionnaire.
Neural health decline was
believed to be associated with atrophy and cell death and cannot be reversed. However, newer research has came to
the conclusion that certain parts of the brain can regrow and regenerate throughout life, called
It is never too late to make
positive changes to your life and believe me when I say that the benefits will speak for themselves and outweigh
the few sacrifices you might have to make.
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