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School of Medicine
Battling Stress: What You Need to Know
- Uncontrolled stress can lead to a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure and depression.
- When under stress, the body releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline to help cope with the situation. This causes the heart to beat faster and increases blood pressure.
- Unhealthy stress coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking too much and overeating can contribute to heart disease.
- Stress management tactics such as deep breathing, meditation, exercise and healthy eating, are sometimes considered a better way to deal with stress than medication.
- Nuts containing the amino acid tryptophan promote relaxation; a handful can help reduce stress levels.
Dr. Kellie Tamashiro is a behavioral neuroscientist specializing in the study of stress, depression and mood disorders, with a focus on how stress during pregnancy can impact offspring behavior, metabolism and neuroendocrine development.
What are the main causes of stress?
Stress can have different meanings for different people. Stress can be a real or perceived threat to one’s condition. Stress can come from physical elements, such as excess heat or cold, trauma, physical exertion, and hunger or thirst. Psychological or social stressors could come from feelings of fear, anger, frustration, or bereavement. Some of the most commonly cited sources of stress are related to work, family and financial worries. Positive events may also be sources of stress such as a new job or promotion, purchase of a home, marriage, or birth of a child.
What effect does stress have on the body?
Stress is a normal physiological response. If we are exposed to stress for a short duration, normal physiological responses may include increased heart rate, decreased appetite, and greater alertness, which helps to deal with stress over the short term. The negative effects of stress typically come from chronic, long durations of exposure to stress or experience with severe stressful events, such as natural disasters or violence. In these situations, stress may lead to more serious health conditions, such as depression, heart disease, weight gain or loss, gastrointestinal problems and diabetes.
How can I effectively manage stress in my life?
Stress levels differ based on each individual's personality and how he or she respond to situations. Some people are able to deal with stress and let it go. To them, work and life stresses are just little bumps in the road. Others may dwell on stressful environments or events and literally worry themselves sick. For these people, effective coping strategies are very important. Getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, having social support and participating in stress management programs are some effective ways of managing stress
Decode Your Stress Managment Skills
Almost everyone experiences some form of stress. Take this quick quiz to discover what Johns Hopkins research has determined to be the best, most heart-friendly ways to cope with the stress in your life.
The Yoga-Heart Connection
A growing body of research from Johns Hopkins shows that practicing yoga can lower stress and help those recovering from heart events. Now may be the time to take up this gentle form of exercise.
Stress Management: Important at Any Age
You may be retired with grown children, but stress doesn’t magically disappear. Here are the top stressors to guard against later in life, with tips on handling them from a Johns Hopkins expert.
Meditation for Anxiety and Depression?
Some 30 minutes of meditation daily may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, a Johns Hopkins analysis of previously published research suggests.
Physical Recovery in Critically Ill Patients Can Predict Remission of General Anxiety and PTSD Symptoms
In a two-year longitudinal study, researchers found that better physical functioning — basic and complex activities considered essential for maintaining independence — is associated with remission of general anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
DNA Modifications Measured in Blood Signal Related Changes in the Brain
Johns Hopkins researchers say they have confirmed suspicions that DNA modifications found in the blood of mice exposed to high levels of stress hormone — and showing signs of anxiety — are directly related to changes found in their brain tissues.
Mouse Research Links Adolescent Stress and Severe Adult Mental Illness
Working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers have established a link between elevated levels of a stress hormone in adolescence — a critical time for brain development — and genetic changes that, in young adulthood, cause severe mental illness in those predisposed to it.