Depression, anxiety, stress...
How often do you hear those words? Or experience these feelings? And yet, how much time do we devote to these subjects in our own personal lives? Up until recently, it was pretty taboo to even discuss them out in the open. People who by definition “suffer alone” were indeed suffering alone and in isolation. We have been made to believe that mental health is not as important as physical health and that the two are separate issues. Has your primary care doctor ever asked you about your mental health or asked how your mental health affects your physical health? Unfortunately, this is just another example of the fragmented nature of our healthcare system and symptomatic of our modern society. This is what happens when science categorizes and isolates different organs and body parts from one another and when scientists separate and compartmentalize plants from animals from humans and from the whole web of existence.
Our nervous system has an effect on almost every other system on our body. When we are stressed or anxious it affects our digestion, heart rate, temperature, blood flow and hormones. There is no isolation in the body just as there is no isolation in the world. The interconnectedness of the whole web of existence is the very same reason it is impossible to isolate a symptom and try to treat it. Finding the root cause of an issue is at the heart of herbalism, as treating symptoms with herbs is not a holistic way of treating someone and only seeks to replicate everything that is wrong with allopathic Western medicine.
Depression, anxiety and stress are closely interlinked and even confused at times but are expressions of different underlying causes. The ways in which they manifest can have many of the same or similar symptoms, which is why it can be difficult to isolate the real issue. People can also exhibit all three conditions compounding the confusion. To make this issue even more complex, it is important to differentiate between acute and chronic cases of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Stress is any physical, psychological and/or environmental stimulus that alters the bodies’ physiological balance. The ability to cope with stressful stimuli is a crucial determinant of health and disease. Unaddressed chronic stress can contribute to a number of health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, hypertension, heart disease, memory impairment, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Furthermore, chronic stress has been linked with impaired adrenal function, HPA axis dysfunction, and metabolic syndrome.
In part 2 of our blog post, we will look at the difference between acute and chronic stress and give you some tools to deal with both. Part 3 will discuss some herbs that can help with stress.