Recent research has shown that chronic inflammation is very common in people who have high-stress lives. That inflammation exacerbates many common physical health issues such as diabetes and cancer and has major links to depression and mental health as well. Many patients notice that they feel more physical pain when they are stressed or depressed, and feel less pain and have more energy when they are happy and full of life. Similarly, when inflammation is causing a life full of chronic pain, patients often experience increased stress, anxiety, and depression.
Anxiety is one of the potential negative effects of stress. It is an emotional reaction to stress and is usually characterized by nervous, fearful, and apprehensive feelings. It can result in symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath and panic attacks. For many people, anxiety interferes with normal life. Excessive anxiety is often associated with other conditions, such as depression.
Because many of the symptoms that stress and anxiety cause are mental and emotional, medical practitioners largely base their diagnosis on the symptoms and feelings that a patient describes and the medications being taken. Therefore, it’s important for patients to be completely honest with their medical provider when describing their medical history, symptoms, and health goals.
The percentage of Americans on medication to help deal with stress, anxiety, and depression increased from 7% to 13% since 1999, according to a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. A growing number of people are seeking alternatives to antidepressant medications, and new research suggests that acupuncture could be a promising alternative. One new study found the Traditional Chinese Medicine practice to be as effective as antidepressants, and that acupuncture may help treat the medications' side effects.
In many cases, stress and anxiety can be effectively treated without using habit-forming medications. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, anti-inflammatory foods, meditation and movement/exercise can make a significant difference in dealing with chronic inflammation, stress and anxiety, and in reducing symptoms of depression.
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