How Stress destroys your health.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Stress person

Stress.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Your body stores up stress and then makes you sick.

Most of us know the effects that stress can have on our mental health but few people notice that the way they feel emotionally is affecting their physical health. We use that same word “feel” for both sensations in the body and emotions we attribute to the mind. This leads to lots of confusion. Your mind, by which most people mean their thinking, is not all that separate from your body.

What you think about can take its toll on your physical health.

Physical symptoms are often the first indicators of a serious mental illness. It is smart to get your health checked out by a medical doctor. Having physical illnesses that are caused by stress or trauma does not mean you are going crazy and it sure does not mean that your problems are “all in your head.” Your body participates in everything your mind experiences.

When we say someone is a pain in the neck, take that literally. That unpleasant experience has caused your neck muscles to tighten. That person who makes you sick to your stomach really is affecting your digestion. So if you have seen a doctor and they can’t find anything medically wrong with you, consider getting some emotional help.

Here are some of the physical signs and symptoms that you are under too much stress or that your feelings are signaling your body they need some attention.

Appetite changes reflect feelings.

Can’t eat? Constantly hungry? Changes in appetite that are not connected to physical activity and caloric needs are a common indicator of an emotional crisis. Changes in appetite along with a loss of pleasure are at the top of the list for symptoms of depression. Loss of appetite can signal an anxiety disorder. Relationship issues and all manner of other stresses change your appetite.

Sleep responds to emotions.

Sleep, too much or too little is another mental health indicator. Sleep changes are a feature of depression. Low need for sleep or not sleeping at all and having plenty of energy could be signs of Bipolar Disorder. Just because you have not been diagnosed with Bipolar in the past is no reason to ignore this. Many people have had only episodes of depression and the blues before that first big manic break.

Aches and pains can be from stress.

Stress impacts your nerves and your muscles. One study reported that more than half of those with Fibromyalgia also met the criteria for PTSD. Living with lots of stress or trauma extracts a price from your nervous system. Do not wait till your nerves quit to get that stress under control. While thinking things away will not cure physical illnesses alone, what you do about that stress can affect the course of your physical illness.

Cravings signal something is going on in your feelings life.

Cravings for foods could be a nutritional deficiency but it could also be the warning sign of depression coming. Craving for behaviors or chemicals are hallmarks of addiction. While most behavioral addictions have not yet made the list of recognized mental illness, counseling is helpful if you find yourself craving things that could be harmful to your health or your life.

Loneliness can cause or be caused by emotional issues.

Feeling lonely or emotionally needy is a sign that your feelings life is in need of help. You should not hesitate to get assistance for emotional cravings. Loneliness is a recognized cause of relapse for substance use disorders. What is often missed is that feelings of loneliness and neglect can be triggers for mental and emotional disorders.

Lowered resistance to colds and flu may have an emotional cause.

Depression, Trauma, and stressor-related disorders all lower your resistance to illness. Happy people have more resistance to physical illness and are more resilient to emotional letdowns. If you are having trouble getting over a physical illness, take another look and see if your emotions need mending also.

Temperature regulation – sweating could be anxiety or panic disorder.

Sweating and poor temperature regulation has been connected to anxiety and stress-related disorders. Learn deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness. Cut back on the high rumination diet and see if your body does not stop sweating things.

Out of willpower – procrastination? Is it caused by stress?

Lack of energy, low willpower, and a general malaise are all signs of emotional disorders. Depression and anxiety are the chief suspects here but other mental disorders can result in low motivation and a lack of willpower.

Irritable – low blood sugar – the two are connected.

Low blood sugar makes people more irritable and leads to anger and conflict. The opposite connection can exist. Poor emotional regulation can play having with your efforts to regulate blood sugar and other hormones. Make sure you are taking care of your emotional health and see if that does not help you improve your physical health.

Panic happens more often when you are stressed.

Panic may be appropriate if they are shooting at you or if the lion is hunting you. Panic in the sense of a sudden mobilization of effort. But if you are having panic attacks on a regular basis, if the setting on your anxiety or panic meter is turned up way too high, your emotions are going to create a lot of physical symptoms that will not respond well to the doctor’s prescription of medication.

Is emotional stress having an impact on your physical health?

Anxiety

Depression

Emotions and Feelings.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD)

PTSD & Stress

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

What is Reactive Depression?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Depressed person

Depression.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you have Reactive Depression?

Reactive depression is one of those terms, like Manic-Depressive Disorder, that still gets used even though we have come up with new, presumably more precise names. The underlying assumption, which is often hiding here, is that if we could find ways to categorize the various mental, emotional and behavioral problems, we should be able to find precise treatments, medication, or therapy for your specific ailment. If only it was that simple.

The Reactive Depression terms meaning has changed over time. Most recently it was in use to describe times when a person became depressed as a result of a specific stressor. Say you lose your job, that loss might make you sad. A small amount of sadness for a while is normal. Staying a lot sad for a long time is excessive and so you are sort of depressed. In this view reactive depression is depression caused by your specific reaction to an identifiable event. That event might be a one-time thing or it might be repeated exposure to the same sorts of events. Some people have called this Situational Depression.

This is not the same thing as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) A person with PTSD may or may not have depression but Depression is not part of the definition of PTSD. People with PTSD can’t get the thoughts of the event out of their heads. It is as if they are continually re-experiencing the trauma. Anything that reminds them of the trauma is upsetting and they will try to avoid things that trigger those reminders. PTSD usually disturbs sleep. Other symptoms include disturbing dreams, nightmares, trouble falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep. PTSD is an ANXIETY disorder as opposed to an Anxiety disorder. It also includes a lot of stress and trauma-related features.

There is another idea, similar to reactive depression, currently called Minor Depressive Disorder which is currently listed as a disorder listed for further study. While Reactive Depression is in response to something that happened to you, Minor Depressive Disorder is a sad or depressed period with some symptoms but it is just not as deep or severe a depression as a Major Depressive Disorder. So far neither of these ideas is an accepted diagnosis under the current text, the DSM-4-TR. Some of these ideas will change when the DSM-5 comes out but that is very controversial at this time.

There is another name and criteria set that we are currently using to cover both of these issues. We call this disorder or group of six disorders – Adjustment Disorders. There are good reasons why people might suffer from adjustment disorders and need treatment but still not have all the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder.

In my experience, Adjustment Disorders result in more people in crisis than most of the other disorders. By definition, Adjustment Disorders should be time-limited. If it goes on too long after the event or if the symptoms continue to be severe or worsen, then the diagnosis will get increased to Major Depressive Disorder.

That does not mean that a Reactive Depression or Adjustment Disorder is not dangerous. People, who find out their partner is leaving them or has cheated or those who lose a job or house they love, can and sometimes do get violent towards themselves and others.

So let’s return to the person who just lost their job, or spouse or has a sick family member. Might that make them sad? Might they be scared and anxious? Hey, what if they got both depressed and anxious?

This is why we have diagnoses of Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood, with Anxiety, and with Anxiety and Depressed Mood. What else might happen?

Could a person who lost their spouse start drinking and get arrested?  Maybe a teen that fails a class or gets in trouble might run away from home or get mad and break windows? So one reaction to a problem, one adjustment difficulty, could be to behave in ways that make society disapprove of you. We would call that Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct.

Think about this for a moment. That teen, might he be depressed, anxious, and act badly? What about his unemployed father who gets scared he won’t find another job, starts drinking, and gets into a fight. We call these sets of behavior Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct. Lots of names for the ways in which adjusting to a problem could affect someone.

If you have been counting that is only five diagnoses and I promised you six.

We always need a loophole. We call that Adjustment Disorder Unspecified when we can’t figure out which other one it is.

Regardless of the name the preferred treatment for these issues in counseling. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or solution-focused counseling is recommended. The main direction of this kind of therapy is on problem-solving and changing the ways in which you think about your problems.

So whether you call it Reactive Depression, Minor Depression, or an Adjustment Disorder, the way we react to life’s stresses can result in crises that require and often bring people to counseling.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel