Medications and Stress Disorders

“I know I feel stressed most of the time. I know I am not as happy as I should/could be. I certainly don’t function at my full potential. My energy, sleep, sex life, etc., leave a lot to be desired. How do I make things better? Where should I start? If I decide to try medication, what kind of medication should I take?”

These are the underlying questions usually not in full conscious awareness that most people have when they go to see their doctor. Ted Mitchell, M.D., director of Wellness Programs for the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, says that 75-90% of all doctors visits are stress related. Stress overload and poor health habits are far and away the main cause of not only shortened life span but reduced quality of life.

Most individuals have at least one area in their life where they need help. Emerson’s advice is, “first be a good animal.”

Be physically fit. This includes keeping your blood pressure at 130/80 or better. Many people have high blood pressure or hypertension. Unfortunately, the majority don’t know it. If caught early blood pressure can be brought down to normal range.

This is especially true along with weight loss, added calcium, general stress management, relaxation, aerobic exercise, and muscle toning. But most of these changes take time and meanwhile high blood pressure is pounding the arteries in your heart, brain, and kidneys. Since your kidney’s monitor blood pressure and release hormones to increase it when it’s low, once high pressure damages your kidneys you will have chronic hypertension. Your kidneys will under read your pressure and constantly release hormones to raise it. To prevent these damaging effects of elevated pressure, you need to take medication, (usually starting with a diuretic and/or ace inhibitor). If adequate life style changes are made then medication can be phased out. But if they are not, or you waited too long you will need to be on medication for life.

Since blood pressure is easily measure and monitored it serves as a good model for physical health systems. The same principles apply to stress disorders – if you catch them early and make life style changes you may be able to fix the problem without medication or at least only need medication for a limited time. But just as high blood pressure damages the body, clinical depression and other major mental health disorders damage the brain. This may mean you will have to take medication indefinitely … or not … You of course have the right to choose an unhappy or unfulfilling, shortened life.

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