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Stress changes your physiology, leading to chronic health problems

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., March 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Too much work stress hits you in unforeseen physical ways, resulting in a stress-related disorder. Chronic and intense headaches, pain in the back, neck, and stomach, and conditions like fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome can arise from long periods of extreme stress.

Dr. Shana Johnson, a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, specializes in central sensitization syndrome (CSS). She explains, "Under high stress, the body's weakest link breaks, which may mean headaches, back pain, or digestive issues. This is complicated by central sensitization, an abnormal process in the brain that intensifies pain."

Stress can destroy your health. 

Bryan, an entrepreneur, learned how stress can change your life for the worse. He had built his construction company from the ground up over a ten-year period. Bryan simultaneously functioned as CEO, COO, and the director of both HR and IT, as well as being involved in the day-to-day workings of the business.

After a particularly grueling three-month period, Bryan experienced intense pain behind one eye. He thought he was having a stroke and went to the emergency room. A CT scan showed no sign of a stroke. He was diagnosed with a severe migraine.

The prescribed medication relieved the pain but didn't explain the reason for Bryan's headaches. He sought help from Dr. Johnson.

Treat the cause, not just the symptoms.

"It was clear Bryan's stress triggered his headaches. His body and brain couldn't tolerate his high stress levels. His workload was unsustainable," says Dr. Johnson, author of Sunbreak, the forthcoming book on stress-related disorders and central sensitization syndromes.

Three-step treatment plan 

Scaling back on his work was a tough change, but Bryan knew he couldn't live with the headaches. Dr. Johnson developed a treatment plan: 

  1. Awareness. Bryan needed to note when he felt a headache coming on, recognizing the connection between stress and his physical response. 
  2. Stress management. Bryan hired additional staff so he could delegate more of his responsibilities. 
  3. Medication. Long-term stress led to a chronic headache disorder that wouldn't go away, but daily medication could manage the pain.

Control your stress before it controls you. Too much stress can lead to health problems. Visit to learn more about the connection between stress and your health.

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SOURCE Ask Dr. Shana