Even as Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, it is essential that we continue the conversation about stress and mental health. Anyone who has experience with disorders such as chronic stress knows the struggle is daily.
What is brain stress?
Fear, traumatic experiences, and even the challenges of daily life can trigger stress in the body. Even the most healthy, balanced individuals can experience stress on a daily basis! Unexpected financial burdens, major work deadlines or conflicts with family members kick your body’s stress reaction into high gear, triggering physical, mental and emotional changes.
Today, triggers for stress occur much more frequently and to adapt, your brain attempts to normalize this level of stress. Sustained levels of stress not only impact an individual’s emotional well-being, but they also wreak havoc on your physical health. Too much stress, too often, results in serious consequences for your health over time, leading to a destructive flood of long-term health problems.
If you are experiencing a few or more of the following symptoms, it may be an indication that you are dealing with chronic stress.
- Frequent headaches, aches, and pains
- General lack of energy
- Inability to focus
- Stiffness in the neck and jaw
- Reliance on alcohol or drugs
- Uncontrolled, sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Loss of sexual desire
- Memory problems
- Premature signs of aging
In some cases, chronic stress that continues long after the trigger has been resolved can develop further into an anxiety disorder. For many individuals who are dealing with these issues, finding an answer and solution that works can be a frustrating challenge.
In the last 30 years, prescriptions of antidepressant medication have quadrupled. About ten percent of adolescents are on antidepressant medication, an indication of the widespread impact of the different forms of physical and mental stress. Brain-stress has become a full-blown epidemic.
As one of the leading centers for brain-based wellness treatments, we’ve been helping our clients overcome chronic stress and develop more coping strategies for better living. Utilizing the most proven and advanced neurofeedback training therapies and qEEG brain mapping evaluation techniques, we develop a totally customized, integrated treatment program for every individual.
Your Nervous System and Stages of Stress
Paying attention to the way your body reacts to stressors is an important part of understanding stress. In terms of our body’s physiology, stress is your “fight or flight” response kicking in. This response is regulated by your sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, which operate both consciously and unconsciously. When this system is responding appropriately to stress, and then allowed to disengage and reset, it is in a balanced state called allostasis.
There are four stages that describe when your nervous system is not functioning as well as it can.
Individuals living high-stress lifestyles are typically in this state. People who are in a chronically over-aroused state experience cold hands, tight muscles, teeth grinding, anxiety, heart palpitations, restless sleep, difficulty concentrating and recurrent infections.
Those who have a low-energy expression such as depressed individuals are in the under-aroused state. In this state, the nervous system is just barely awake and functioning. The consequences of the under-aroused state are: ADD, depression, lack of motivation, poor concentration, spaciness, low pain threshold, difficulty arousing from sleep and lack of energy.
This state includes both the under-aroused and over-aroused states. The unstable state is described as highly imbalanced and the individual’s system is highly stressed. Common symptoms include migraines, seizures, narcolepsy, sleepwalking, hot flashes, mood swings, and panic attacks.
The exhaustive state is the most hazardous to an individual’s health and occurs when the body systems no longer function in harmony due to overwork. Chronic fatigue syndrome and M.S. fibromyalgia are just some of the associated health issues of the exhaustive state.
The above stages describe when your nervous system is no longer in a state of ease or allostasis. Our nervous system has been extremely valuable to the survival of the human species. However, in modern times, our stress responses can be overworked, keeping our bodily systems in high gear even when there are no stressors present.
More than a quarter of the world’s population (2 billion) suffer from brain-based health challenges. Diagnoses of depression, Anxiety, ADD, ADHD, and chronic stress have dramatically increased over the last decade. The rate of children between the ages of 14-17 reported with ADHD symptoms has increased as much as 42%! Over the last decade, over five million children, nearly 10% of school-aged children, received a diagnosis of ADHD! Many attribute this increase to the constant, increasing pace of modern life and the constant bombardment of media and technology.
If you, a loved one or your child struggles with the effects of stress or chronic stress, there are effective treatments to manage and combat symptoms to make a dramatic improvement in cognitive performance, overall health, and quality of life.
What is brain-based wellness?
More and more research continues to mount in support of the idea that there is more to your health than simply dealing with physical symptoms. This area of health is called brain-based wellness.
Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience have totally shifted our understanding of how our brains work in relation to our mood and overall health. From this research, the idea of neuroplasticity was born.
Myths about the Brain
Brain-based wellness is still a relatively unknown concept and there are many myths and misunderstandings. Some of the most common assumptions we’ve come across are:
The brain cannot be healed
This is only partly true. When brain tissue is damaged, it will not repair itself in the same way that your bones do. However, brain tissue can retain its capabilities through developing new pathways in uninjured areas of the brain, essentially rewiring itself to compensate for damaged areas.
Your brain’s wiring is static
Over the last 20 years, brain-imaging technology has shown us that as we learn, the hippocampus can create new neurons. New neurological pathways can form and develop.
Brain function will decline with age no matter what we do
Neuroplasticity research uncovered that one of the main reasons brain function appeared to decline with age is a result of less mental activity, rather than necessarily a cause of it. Both physical activity and mindfulness exercises are shown to combat the effects of age-related cognitive decline.
Mental Health Awareness
Having an open discussion about your mental health and experiences with stress is important for identifying your concerns. In a recent survey of adults over the age of 50, the number one reported concern is a loss of mental capacity. With the dramatic rise of illnesses like Alzheimers and dementia in (as much as 400% over the last decade), the fears are understandable.
Being proactive about your mental health has been shown to dramatically improve mental health outcomes later in life.
The consequences of brain stress, anxiety, and unchecked chronic stress are very real and can be very costly for your physical health and quality of life, but with the right protocol, they can be treated and prevented.
What can you do about Stress?
One of the earliest studies in brain-based wellness research demonstrated that light and sound technology could help alleviate pain. The study was conducted over 12 weeks on 30 participants using brainwave entrainment technology. Utilizing light, sound, and strategic mindfulness techniques, 35% of patients experience considerable reductions in pain levels and improvements in pain tolerance! These results were achieved with patients who experienced little to no success treating pain through prescription drugs or surgery.
The research into brain-based wellness has come a long way and continues to grow with nearly 40 million people using neuroplasticity applications such as Lumosity to enhance their cognitive performance. Today, there are many treatment protocols and therapies that utilize these brain-wellness principles and they have offered relief to thousands of patients who are struggling with chronic stress, anxiety, and other cognitive disorders.
At Neurozone, we have helped our patients find immediate and long-term relief from chronic stress using individualized, clinically-supported, non-drug therapies. One of the areas we specialize in is the treatment of chronic stress. Our customized treatment protocols help individuals of all ages to not only mitigate symptoms of chronic stress but to also attain optimal body and mind function.
Contact us to set up your personalized evaluation and learn more about non-drug treatment for chronic stress, ADHD and anxiety!