Let's Talk About Stress

By Belinda Quintana, DBH
Behavioral Health Clinical Director - NATIVE HEALTH

Every year hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world visit their primary care providers for stress-related problems. In an article published by JAMA in 2013, the prevalence of stress in primary care is high with up to 60-80% of visits having a stress-related component. According to the American Institute of Stress, however, it's more than that - up to 75% to 90% of all doctor's office visits are due to stress-related issues. Stress was considered to be "America's #1 Health Problem" and an "epidemic" according to a Times magazine article in 1983. Wow! That was a long time ago, but look where we are now. Most people would agree that circumstances have gotten worse since then. But the good news is that stress can be alleviated with a little help and determination to make the necessary changes in lifestyle.

What is stress? According to Miriam-Webster, the definition of stress is a state of tension, a force that tends to change the shape of an object, or a special importance given to something. But psychologically speaking, the term "stress" was first described in 1936 as "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change." In other words, anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being and how the brain and body responds to these challenges. Not only is stress causing havoc in people's bodies, but it is also costing America more than $300 billion annually, according to Occupational safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (as quoted in Web MD, the Effects of Stress on Your Body, 2016).

Stress affects everyone. Most people do not realize how much power this little word, "stress," can have on our minds, bodies, and emotions. Of course, there are different types of stress, survival stress ("fight or flight"), internal stress (constant worries), relational (spouse, partner, children problems), environmental stress (noise, crowding), fatigue (overwork), traumatic stress such as domestic violence, natural disasters (earthquakes), adverse childhood experiences, war, etc. In this day and age it is common for people to experience stress on a daily basis, it's normal. But constant stress that leads to distress is not. Job stress is the leading source of stress for adults, but stress levels have also increased in children, teenagers, college students, and the elderly. Be it crime, violence, peer pressures, unhealthy life style habits, or the erosion of family and religious values - these are just a few of the sources of stress that have been cited as the contributing factors related to increased levels of stress.

Most of us take stress for granted, but we shouldn't. Some health problems that may be caused by stress, or made worse by stress, include: headaches, insomnia, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, eating disorders such as obesity or weight loss, depression, anxiety and panic attacks. This is mostly because stress can disable the body's immune system making a person more susceptible to illness.

In the following months we will follow up with other articles regarding stress: things you should know about stress, understanding your symptoms, the link between stress and mental illness, how to alleviate everyday stress, healing stress illness, etc. Stay tuned. NATIVE HEALTH and NHW Community Health Center Behavioral Health providers can help you with a plan to make your stress manageable.

For more information contact For more information call Kristy Johnson at (602) 279-5262, ext. 3208 or email: kJohnson@nachci.com