Don’t Stay in the Dark about this Universal Health Risk

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Stress is a normal part of life, but can easily get out of hand.A new study from Harvard shines a glaring light on a serious problem with modern medicine—the failure to accept that stress is a major contributor to health problems, and that treating it should be a primary job of any physician. According to the study, stress is a contributing factor in as much as 80% of all trips to a non-specialist doctor (family doctor or general practitioner), but no more than three percent of patients receive advice or information on stress management counseling.

The study shows that, in the past five years, more than half of all North Americans reported higher stress levels than in the past. Surprisingly, mounting stress is rarely ever discussed in clinics. Because of this, stress management counseling has fallen far behind counseling for nutrition, exercise, weight loss, and smoking. This has allowed stress to rage on as one of the most pervasive causes of illness.

(To fight stress, think green:

The new study analyzed more than 34,000 visits to nearly 1,300 doctors. The researchers searched for any physicians who advised their patients on stress management, such as talking about exercise, yoga, biofeedback, or referrals to specialists. They found that stress was rarely ever talked about. Even patients diagnosed with depression, for whom stress is often the cause of the problem, stress management was rarely discussed.

Stress influences a wide range of processes and functions in the body. There is a vast number of studies linking stress to serious health problems, such as heart disease, obesity, breathing difficulties, digestive problems, cancer, and dementia. Stress is an essential and sometimes beneficial part of life, but it can easily get out of hand if not addressed.

There are several natural ways to fight stress. It can be as easy as going to a park, but it can also be treated with aromatherapy, acupuncture and yoga. While all of these methods are effective and easy, the study asserts that too few people are being made aware of them.

Because physicians are not informing their patients about stress management nearly enough, the responsibility to ask about stress and stress management techniques has clearly fallen to the patient.

Sources for Today’s Articles:
Don’t Stay in the Dark about this Universal Health Risk
Nerurkar, A., et al., “When Physicians Counsel About Stress: Results of a National Study,” Archives of Internal Medicine, November 19, 2012.