to accompany and give back hope

Parish Nursing Bulletin



Series on Stress: Part 3

Stress and Disease

Stress is a universal fact of existence for all living creatures. It is not, however, universally negative. Certain stressors add richness, colour and excitement to our lives (e.g. weddings, vacations, new jobs, midway rides, etc.). Other stressors are virtually always negative (e.g. death of a loved one, loss of health and independence, etc.). There are a whole range of stressors between these extremes whose effects are experienced individually (e.g. for those with balance problems, climbing a stepladder can be a negative stress; for some, sky-diving is a positive stress). What is most important is not the event itself, but how the person perceives the event. An event perceived as threatening causes negative stress, while one perceived as enjoyable causes positive stress…

How Does Stress Relate to Disease?
All thoughts and feelings cause the production of chemical messengers which travel throughout the body and cause a physical response (e.g. increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing, etc.). An acute stress response is an important protective mechanism which prepares the person to fight or escape from a threatening situation. However, this response is intended to be time-limited, with the body returning to its normal functioning when the danger is past.

When stress becomes chronic, the changes in bodily function which are helpful in the short term become detrimental over the long haul. The ongoing presence of increased levels of stress hormones contributes significantly to the development of many diseases (e.g. heart disease, type II diabetes, depression and many others). Watch for upcoming bulletins to see what we can do to lower stress and reduce the likelihood of disease.


© 2009 Parish Nursing Ministry