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Is Stress Making You Sick? Here's Why and How It Can Be Affecting Your Health.

Do you ever experience the following?

  • Headaches

  • Rapid breathing

  • Heartburn

  • Insomnia

  • High blood pressure

  • High blood sugar or have Type II Diabetes

  • Rapid heartbeats

  • Low libido

  • Fertility problems

  • Anxiety and or depression? 

If you have answered yes to one or a few of these points, then you may be experiencing a decreased ability to cope with life’s stressors.

In this article you will learn

  • What is beginning to show in health after the pandemic?

  • What occurs in the body during stressful periods?

  • What health issues can arise from prolonged stress?

  • How stress affects the body and cause diseases (a quick YouTube video).

  • How can it be helped through a Naturopath, and what tests are available.


AUTHOR: Tonia Willson – Naturopath & Medical Herbalist BNATMED

The last few years have placed a huge mental and financial toll on many of us.

It is no surprise that this is beginning to show in increased numbers of anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, cancers, chronic fatigue and many other stress related illnesses.

The pandemic has resulted in many of us living through multiple crises, including financial, social, as well as disease-related, all at the same time, with these crises taking a toll on our mental and physical health. This is seen most particularly within our youth with one in three adolescents (31.9 percent) meeting the criteria for an anxiety disorder by the age of 18.

It's almost as if the world has sped up on its axis, with us all madly trying to recoup for lost time and make up for the “production deficit”.  However, in doing so, we need to be mindful that our body is keeping the score on all of these stressors, and when prolonged, they may be doing you harm.

What is the problem with prolonged stress?

The problem with a continued and prolonged period of stress is that it begins to manifest in the body as dis-ease.  During a stressful period, the brain recognizes the stressor and begins a physiological cascade of events known as the “Stress Cascade”. 

This begins with a signal in the brain, via the pituitary gland to the hypothalamus, where it registers that a threat has been perceived. This then signals the adrenals (and often other organs such as the thyroid or ovaries).  This is known as the HPA (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal), axis stress response.

This stressor, no matter how big or small initiates the same response and can turn multiple functions in the body either “off” or “on” in order to produce the primal instinct of “fight or flight” – this is also known as sympathetic nervous system activation

Pietrangelo., A. (2020). The Effects of Stress on Your Body.

Often stressors and the way the body responds to them are so mild that they go entirely unnoticed by you and the body returns to its normal state of balance or ‘homeostasis’.

However, when these stressors are perceived as overwhelming, the stress response can become severe and prolonged, and can result in:

  • Unhealthy lifestyle choices – poor diet, alcohol, caffeine consumption

  • Weight gain

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Insulin resistance, Pre-diabetes and Type II Diabetes

  • Osteoporosis

  • Dementia

  • Chronic inflammation

  • Decreased immunity

  • Decreased libido

  • Decreased fertility

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Headaches

  • Decreased stomach acid secretion = heartburn and poor nutrient absorption

  • Poor digestion

  • Constipation/diahorrea

  • Shortened telomeres and lifespan

How stress affects the body and can cause disease.

The following Youtube clip demonstrates this perfectly.

How Stress Affects Your Body (Sharon Horesh Bergquist)

Simply being told to reduce stress, can in itself be stressful! 

A qualified Naturopath has many tools to help you to reduce your overall stress load as well as helping to teach you techniques on how to improve your response to stress.

  • Nutritional medicineA Naturopath will evaluate what nutrients are required to help in times of stress to reduce the impact of the stress response. In times of prolonged stress the body upregulates the use of certain nutrients, a Naturopath will investigate whether these and other micronutrients may be required to rebalance the nervous system.

  • Herbal medicineNaturopaths can prescribe adaptogenic herbs, that are able to assist in calming the nervous system and your bodies response to stress. Often in times of prolonged stress the body upregulates the use of certain nutrients in particular, and a Naturopath will investigate whether these and other micronutrients may be required to regulate the nervous system and regain balance. 

  • Blood tests – After consultation, your Naturopath can evaluate if blood tests may be required. This may be to test for any nutrient deficiencies that could potentially be exacerbating symptoms, or to ensure that your thyroid is working optimally.

  • D.U.T.C.H. Complete/Plus testA Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones can be completed. This is a highly recommended international functional medicine test that The Good Health Room offers. It will show stress response markers to where your body is at morning, afternoon, and evening and whether there has been any prolonged stress indicating inflammation within your body. It is very thorough, and will also incorporate major hormone levels, melatonin, neurotransmitters, methylation pathways, and some vitamins and digestive markers. Learn more here.

  • Salivary cortisol  A salivary cortisol test can be ordered if the stressor has been prolonged and resulted in chronic fatigue or ‘burn out’ where the adrenal gland is no longer able to keep up with the demands of the body.  This test can show the Naturopath how the adrenal gland is functioning and whether it may need some assistance.


Book with your Naturopath now, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or are wanting to reduce your stress levels.




Kalin, N. (2021). COVID-19 and stress-related disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry

Drillinger, M. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown on Teens’ Mental Health.  Healthline.

Hechtman, L. (2019). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine (2nd ed.). Elsevier.

Pietrangelo., A. (2020). The effects of stress on your body. Healthline.

Bergquist, S. (2020) How stress affects your body [Video]. YouTube.

Sarris, J., & Wardle, J. (2019). Clinical Naturopathy: An evidence-based guide (3rd ed.). Elsevier.


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