Stress, an evil of our time

Stress, an evil of our time

In the opinion of one of the most recognized doctors on the subject, such as Dr. M. Casas of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine of the Dexeus University Institute-BCM-Barcelona Medical Center, at the beginning of the century people died from certain diseases such such as malaria, the flu, smallpox or bubonic plague. But currently the ailments that cause the most damage are those that act more slowly and by accumulation. Examples of this are heart disease, cancers and cerebrovascular diseases.


  • 1 The main causes of illness today
  • 2 How we face threats
  • 3 Psychotherapy vs psychotropic drugs

The main causes of illness today

This has led researchers to review the causes of current diseases, finding that suspiciously, emotional states and in particular chronic and intense stress factors promote or aggravate many of the diseases of slow and prolonged course.

But what exactly is stress? It was the Canadian doctor Hans Selye who, in 1940 spoke for the first time of it: "stress must be understood as the physical, chemical or emotional process that produces a tension that can lead to physical illness."

For Dr. M. Casas during the same "there is a hypothalamic-pituitary activation that will soon fill the bloodstream of essential substances to promote this response: release of adrenaline, norepinephrine and gluco-corticosteroids from the adrenal gland, stimulation of the pancreas for glucagon secretion, increase of prolactin , progesterone, testosterone, insulin and growth hormone among other more specific".

How we face threats

All changes are intended to enable the response to a threatening situation, facilitating flight or fight behavior. The body must mobilize glucose to large muscle groups; heart rate is increased, blood pressure increases and breathing is accelerated to cover the oxygen supply. And as well as some systems are activated, others of little use in the emergency, stop: the sex drive decreases in both sexes; the immune system is inhibited; the perception of pain is blunted; certain intellectual functions deteriorate and others improve; Digestion collapses and the feeling of hunger disappears and even growth can stagnate.

Since the organism, from its evolutionary history, is prepared to react to situations of various kinds (due to its ability to adapt to them) can withstand isolated stress factors. But the damage (not only for your physical health but also for psychic) ​​occurs when stress factors come from different areas (conjugal, labor, paternal-filial, economic, environmental, etc.) with intensity, frequency and duration marked. This is where anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, eating disorders, insomnia, dependence on toxic substances and even schizophrenia appear, according to some authors (Huida A. Akil and Inés Morano).

Psychotherapy vs psychopharmaceuticals

Psychotherapy is the most suitable method to combat stress insofar as it promotes the psychic strengthening of the person who will face the vicissitudes of life especially dizzying, typical of large urban conglomerates.

However, in the "age of psychoactive drugs" there is a tendency to look for quick solutions of miraculous appearance that sweep the anguish generated by frustrations and unresolved conflicts.

We live under the pressure of immediacyIf we look at the disastrous consequences that "peace in tablets" will produce not only in our body but also in the image we generate of ourselves as impotent beings or unable to account for our own actions.

The first step in stress management is your identification or recognition. Generally, the appearance of situations that have to function as a trigger for stress cannot be avoided because they are usually unpredictable. But, at least its duration and intensity and sometimes its repetition can be reduced, analyzing the situation from a different perspective than usual through the interpersonal exchange provided by the psychotherapeutic approach. The fundamental thing is that living in a state of stress does not become a habitual way of being.

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