Stress Eating-Mind/Body Treatment

Stress Affects The Body

Schneiderman, Ironson, and Siegel (2005) discuss the history of pressure and the effects it can have on the human body. In the nineteenth century, philosophers advised a healthy life for an individual would need to remain stable even in response to significant environmental changes. Schneiderman, Ironson, and Siegel (2005) discuss the history of stress and the effects it can have on the human body. In the nineteenth century, philosophers advised a healthy life for an individual would need to remain stable even in response to significant environmental changes.

Amen and Amen (2016) warn that excessive stress causes a large amount of stress hormone discharging throughout the human body.   The body responds to stress by sending a message to the hypothalamus, a small part at the base of the brain, communicating a warning signal to the body. In reaction, nerves and hormones activate and without delay release a flood of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The need to calm down the discomfort prompts stress eating.

How Stress Hormone Affects the Body

Adrenaline escalates the heart rate and increases blood pressure. Cortisol increases glucose in the blood, modifies the immune system, represses the digestive system, the reproductive system, and growth processes all which help the body to allow for the fight or flight response. Cortisol and adrenaline help the body respond to distress during a period of crisis; however, are meant to return to the pre-crisis once the threat is resolved (The Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016).

Unfortunately, in recent times, life catastrophes can occur sequentially resulting in an increase in stress hormones rather than decreasing to the pre-crisis level. As mentioned above, adrenaline and cortisol are released in response to stress through the adrenal glands. Adrenaline and Cortisol help people respond quickly and repair the body promptly in dangerous situations. However, when fear has prolonged the overproduction of these hormones can cause harm to the body.

Continual exposure to stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline can contribute to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety as well as problems with memory, concentration, and sleep impairment. Medical matters can include high blood pressure, stroke, headaches, heart disease, digestive issues, weight gain, as well as many others (The Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016) as people feel the discomfort of the hormones, they reach for large amounts of food to calm.

How Prolonged Stress Affects the Body and Stress Eating

Since the prolonged exposure to s stress hormones can contribute to severe illness, it is imperative to help people cope with specific stress evoking incidences as well as management with daily pressures and anxieties. Harrison (2017) describes high energy events as situations that drive the mind to a high energy state. Racing tangential thoughts are surpassing executive functioning shifting without thinking to impulsive reacting. Clear thinking, behaving, or performing tasks becomes difficult because thoughts and feelings move so fast that an individual does not have enough time to process them adequately.

The aftermath of the surging hormones of experiencing a high energy event seems to resolve slowly. The reason the reduction in energy is gradual goes back to primitive humans. After a threatening event, the danger might have continued to lurk, and the need for a quick rise in energy may have been needed if the source of risk has not been resolved. Similarly, in recent time, people who experience traumatic events can be triggered easily if a related occurrence provokes similar responses.  Consequently, experiencing persistent symptoms that facilitate more surges of stress hormones and may cause more damage to the brain-mind and body (Harrison, 2017).

In addition to a high energy stressful event, some struggle with a generalized anxiety disorder. According to Harrison (2017), anxiety can continuously be a restrained energy state with the constant release of stress hormone. Continual stress is often diagnosed as a generalized anxiety disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health (2010-2018) declares that chronic stress can contribute to illness, triggering symptoms of headaches, high blood pressure, chest pain, heart palpitations, skin rashes, and loss of sleep (National Institute of Mental Health 2010-2018)

Developing Mind-Body Treatment

Developing a mind /body program can help people who are both suffering from a life event stress and assist people who struggle with everyday stressors. Siegel D. (2012) explains that it is impossible to treat the brain independent of the body because the mind and body are connected as a whole. The brain is attached to the body via the peripheral nervous system as well as all the body’s physiological processes. Input from one part of the body affects the rest. For example, information from the extended nervous system affects the functioning of the brain, and conversely, hormonal information from the blood shapes the brain’s functioning and influences the immune system. Therefore, it is crucial when treating traumatic stressors everyday stress that using a mind-body approach is imperative.

Mindfulness and body methods can be used as part of several theoretic mental health theories as well as compliment others.  Psychodynamic theorists, for many decades, have been interested in Buddhist thinking and meditation.  The theorist is as early as Freud were interested in eastern Buddhist meditation as well as Jung and Fritz Perls (Harrison, 2017).

Psychoanalysis or psychodynamic psychotherapy has been on a developmental path beginning with Freud’s drive theory, moving toward a more relational point of view. The establishment of the Object Relations School, Self- Psychology,  Intersubjectivity and most recently mindfulness and neuroplasticity have respected the psychotherapist and client are two separate people in the consulting room interacting both out of their psychology. The relational aspect of psychodynamic psychotherapy lends itself well to both mindfulness and body awareness in sessions.

Mindfulness in psychodynamic psychotherapy begins by the therapist providing a safe holding environment; the psychotherapist provides a mindful environment to allow clients to think consciously and move to the role of observer both in thought and experience of physical sensations of feelings allowing the client to develop an awareness of bodily sensations to feelings. The internal observer enables the individual to create an awareness of unconscious memories from early experiences. Weiss (2009) explains that the inner mind/body observer is connected to neurobiological research. In early childhood memories are drawn into the body and help from structural configurations that contribute to personality. The physical memories represent essential elements of early self-organization and interpersonal reactions. As the self-observer in treat reveals both mind and body aspects of this new organization, people can begin to release aspects of themselves that impedes beneficial functioning. The client may recall food as being a soothing method even in childhood

Recent studies indicated that particular types of meditation could modify different social and emotional aspects of the brain. At the end of one study, MRI’s revealed that weaker parts of the brain in subjects grew thicker, which matched with increased skill in the target area of the brain. More research is needed in the area of brain type and meditation intervention, however, this gives clinicians and clients much hope to improve functioning for people with certain kinds of limitations (Williams, 2017).

In developing a mind-body approach is essential for the therapist to have an understanding of the growing research of psychoneuroimmunology helping to have more specific information of the relationship between the emotional state of a client and their vulnerability to certain diseases.  Research has shown that stress modifies the actions of the body’s systems, negatively affecting their functioning to protect health. Psychoneuroimmunologists hypothesize that pressure may increase the probability of an individual’s susceptibility to diseases, such as cancers, coronary disease, and some autoimmune diseases. Some studies have shown that the stressor is not the only culprit in weakening the immune system, but the manner of coping with a traumatic event or everyday stressors may diminish an individual’s ability to fight off disease. Often this involves stress eating.

Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the exchanges between the immune system and the central nervous system. Notably, how the interactions of behavior, neural firing, endocrine functions, and immune processes contribute to psychiatric function and health (Loftis & Huckans, 2001-2018), studies have revealed the brain‐immune network to be impacted by psychological means, especially stress. Interestingly evidence has indicated that acute stressors are generally associated with increased immunity. Conversely, long-term chronic stress tends to suppress the immune system (Zachariae,  2009).

Developing the Mind-Body Treatment Plan

Developing a Mind-body treatment plan can assist clients in ways in which they think about problems to help them feel empowered and have some control. It is impressive to watch clients’ moods become more positive as they feel a little power and control over a situation that rendered them helpless. Most importantly, a feeling of empowerment enables individuals to manage and reduce stress as well as develop some control over their behavior. The results can strengthen patterns of neural firing, endocrine functions, and immune processes, assisting the client is in being less vulnerable to disease. As information is gained from the research clinic.

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