Friday, June 6, 2008

Emotions and Disease

by Donna L. Watkins
Originally Published in A Healing Moment in 2004

Anxiety - the distress evoked by life's pressures - is perhaps the emotion with the greatest weight of scientific evidence connecting it to the onset of sickness and course of recovery. When anxiety helps us to prepare to deal with danger, it serves us well, but in modern life, anxiety is more often out of proportion and out of place. Repeated times of anxiety signal high levels of stress.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Parque La Sabana - San Jose

In 1993 a review in the Archives of Internal Medicine covered the extensive research on the stress-disease link. Yale psychologist Bruce McEwen noted a broad spectrum of effects: compromising immune function to the point that it can speed the metastasis of cancer; increasing vulnerability to viral infections; exacerbating plaque formation leading to atherosclerosis and blood clotting leading to myocardial infarction; accelerating the onset of Type I diabetes and the course of Type II diabetes; and worsening or triggering an asthma attack.

Stress can also lead to ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract, triggering symptoms in ulcerative colitis and in inflammatory bowel disease. The brain itself is susceptible to the long-term effects of sustained stress including damage to the hippocampus, and so to memory. In general, says McEwen," evidence is mounting that the nervous system is subject to 'wear and tear' as a result of stressful experiences."

Particularly compelling evidence, for the medical impact from distress, has come from studies with infectious diseases such as colds, flu, and herpes. We are continually exposed to these and other viruses and our immune system ordinarily fights them off - except when under emotional stress when they often fail.

Haven't you noticed getting sick right after a particularly stressful time in your life? Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie-Mellon University worked with scientists on colds research in England to assess how much stress people were feeling in their lives and then exposed those people to the cold virus. Cohen found that the more stress in a person's life, the more likely they were to "catch a cold."

Married couples tracked daily hassles and upsetting events such as marital fights and it showed that 3-4 days after an intense batch of upsets, they came down with a cold or upper respiratory infection. The lag time is precisely the incubation time for many common cold viruses.

Doesn't it make sense to do something about our stress? Most would say there is no way out of their stress. As Christians, that denies the work that Jesus did on the Cross for us. Lifestyle choices and the demands of society that tend to push us toward those choices can be modified. We have only one life to live and if we are to live it as Jesus would have us live it, we must take an assessment of where we are at this moment in time.

Is it where you want to be? Do you really enjoy working under pressure? Do you think it will change in a few months? ... a few years? Look back! How long have you been thinking life will be different at some point in time? It will only be different if you take the time and determination to make it different.

Receive the blessings of the Lord! We can rise above our circumstances because of what Christ has done for us. We are new creatures in Christ. Stop acting like the old man! :-)

Source of Research:
" Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

No comments:

Share This Post