Stress has been reduced to two basic problems. First, problems with perception, and second, problems in communication. This might be an oversimplification of stress. Many other factors influence stress and its expression, including energy, mood disorders, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorders, and the current level of demands on each individual of their extending circumstances. Although difficult to measure or see the ways in which it might be affecting us, research is opening up methods to both evaluate and restore to normal, “out of sync” stress responses.
Stress is predicted to be the second leading cause of disease by the year 2020. Stress negatively impacts expression of cardiovascular disease leading to more frequent and recurrent heart attacks, and reduced overall mortality rates. It has been linked to increased expression even in cancer. Of course it is directly correlated with the use of prescription medications such as tranquilizers, anti-depressants, and stimulants for the myriad of mood and stress disorders.
The root cause of stress has much to do with perception that is true. The problem is by the time uncontrolled stress is discovered, it has created havoc on the neuroendocrine and immune systems. The first system to manage stress is the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis or HPA for short. This system secretes cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline in both short term and chronic stress states. If they are produced in sufficient amounts we are able to handle and recover from the stress. If the initiating stressors continue, than cortisol may remain elevated along with adrenaline, putting the whole body into an on-going fight or flight stress response. This state of stress response has negative consequences on the immune system and leads to immunosuppression. In a state of immunosuppression past viral or bacterial infections may reactivate (as expressed in elevations of antibodies in labs) and lead to fatigue. This fatigue further exacerbates the stress response, because it takes energy to handle stress. One of the long term consequences of unrelenting fatigue and stress is that both cortisol and adrenaline are eventually depleted, leading to adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is exacerbated by the fact that it may begin to not only deplete adrenaline and cortisol, but also nor-epinephrine as well. Nor-epinephrine is the brains main neurotransmitter, designed to support us against stress and allow us to recover. Maintenance and recovery of nor-adrenaline is a priority for the body and if insufficient it appears to create a disconnect in the Autonomic Nervous System. This ANS dysregulation is like a circuit between the brain and the peripheral stress endocrine organs has been overloaded. This overloaded circuit appears to cause a disconnect between the lines of communication from the brain to the periphery, similar to that of a breaker being over-loaded and switching off to protect the wiring as we see in a house. Resetting the breaker is not always easy, but there is hope in Neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback is a specialized therapy using application of electrodes to read and measure brain waves. When the circuit has been disrupted and ANS dysregulation exists, it is measurable and observable in dysregulated or irregular brain wave patterns. A Neurofeedback specialist will than send back to the brain unnoticeable micro-currents which tell the brain to reset and restore normal ANS function. This therapy allows patients to return to normal ANS regulation,thus restoring or recovering from the effects of “burn-out” or adrenal fatigue that too often persists for years following chronic and debilitating stress.
Our approach starts with restoring energy levels by assessing and addressing both hormone and neurotransmitter levels. In addition, genetic testing may further elucidate genetic weaknesses in the system, which produce lower than average levels of functioning neurotransmitters. The genetic defects leave some patients more susceptible to stress than those without the genetic markers. In addition assessing immune function and treatment of reactivated latent infections will improve energy and maximize stress response. A program improving energy and endocrine and neurotransmitter levels allows one to most effectively respond to Neurofeedback and recover and improve upon stress response.