We all know stress can make us irritable, forgetful, and moody but did you know just how much stress can affect our health? I started having chest tightness and a bit of difficulty in taking deep breath’s.  There was no pain, it just felt like I had an ace bandage around my body.  As this continued I began questioning if this could be a cardiac issue and considered making an appointment for a cardiac work-up.  I was working in an office I couldn’t stand, I had constant issues with my boss, and I often burst into tears at work due to the constant tension.  I quit my job giving a four-week notice and my chest tightness lessened by half almost immediately. When I walked out for the final time, my cardiac and respiratory problems were gone.  I never dreamed the stress of work could cause these issues.

Hypertension, diabetes, back pain, stomach pain, headaches.  Sound familiar?  These are just a few of the physical symptoms that stress can cause or aggravate.  Muscular tension from clenching your jaw or tightening neck or back can limit blood circulation through area and increase amounts of lactic acid in muscles causing muscle pain.  Clenching your jaw and grinding teeth can cause tooth breakdown and an increase in tooth injuries. Grinding teeth can also cause headaches.   Headaches can indicate higher blood pressure or can be from tension in neck. Increased stress can increase stomach issues due to increased stomach acid.  Blood sugar levels are more difficult to regulate and stabilize due to stress and the poor eating habits that accompany it.

Business experts place the cost of uncorrected medical issues in the billions. The exact cost of increased health premiums, lost work time and decreased productivity and increased use of negative coping such as using or increasing alcohol is impossible to estimate.

Unfortunately, when seeing a physician for one or more of these physical complaints rarely do they discuss coping skills or suggest counseling for assistance.  Anxiety and depression are on the most common causes for people to see their primary doctor. Ask your physician if an increase in stress could cause your current issues.  Discuss your concerns about the causes of stress with him/her.  Discuss the possibility of seeking counseling to help you develop more appropriate coping skills and to begin to manage your stress in a more positive manner.

When interviewed, 70%-90% of those who had sought counseling stated their symptoms and their quality of life had improved after seeking treatment.  Counseling may help you to manage your stress without use of increased medications.  Always seek your doctors advice before changing any medications. Ask your doctor if relieving stress could have an impact on your symptoms.

As consumers, we need to be aware of the interaction between our physical and mental health and ask our health care providers for referrals and assistance.   Consider counseling if your health has changed.

Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.

Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.