Stress and lupus

Have you noticed that your lupus symptoms vary and that one day they are worse than they were another day? This is not your imagination running wild; there is plausible scientific explanation for this.

In reaction to stress, cortisol is released by our adrenal glands cortisol and one thing that cortisol does is to suppress the immune system. This is one of the many physiological responses to stress and it is meant to ‘turn’ on and off; but in this fast-paced environment the stress response ‘stays on.’ When it stays on, we often suffer from stress-induced illness, like backaches, headaches, insomnia and colds; each of these is associated with other problems.

That’s how stress affects the ‘normal’ immune system. Now, comes the ‘abnormal’ immune system. The release of the same cortisol suppress inflammation, usually a good thing. which in response to inflammation, the ‘abnormal’ immune  system is given forms of cortisol to because of its anti-inflammatory effect, forms of cortisol are given to suppress flares.

Continuous stress can be the direct cause of chronic illness, or continuous stress can exacerbate chronic illness. In lupus and in fibromyalgia, for example, we may find that times of stress directly correlates with flares. In diabetes, stress is a known cause of increasing blood sugar.

Another example of the stress response is found in the obese individual. When there is extreme stress (job loss or a chronic illness like diabetes), there is a tendency to overeat. From that, heart disease, the #1 killer in the United States can develop.

The following interview about stress is with Dr. Marco De La Cruz MD, licensed family and marital counselor who until recently practiced family medicine, and was director of Behavioral Medicine at Rush University in Chicago, Illinois. He confirms the fact that about 75% of visits to the doctor were because of stress-induced illness. It was from Dr. De La Cruz that I learned that flares correlated with the days that I was undergoing a stressful situation; it all made sense!

Dr. De La Cruz has done extensive study of the connection between the Mind and Body, nutritional therapies and Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Recently, he authored a book titled “ Balancing Act:  “Balancing Act: A Mind-Body-Spirit Approach for Optimal Health” in which he explains and emphasizes how our lives are a balancing act, and how important it is to maintain that balance.

“Balancing Act

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