Topic: Taking Action - Testing and Prescribing
June 6, 2018
Join Labrix clinical staff and special guests on the first Wednesday of every month at 9:30 AM and 12:00 PM PST. This free, live webinar series will cover a variety of neuroendocrine topics that will enhance your knowledge, with clinically applicable testing and treatment considerations.
Hollywood, FL: May 31 - June 2, 2018
Labrix and Doctor's Data will be in Hollywood, FL for the IFM (AIC) conference on May 31 - June 2. Come chat with our company representatives, including Dr. Erin Lommen and Dr. Jay Mead, and learn more about our vast functional testing menu.
Portland, OR: July 12 - 17, 2018
Join the Labrix and Doctor's Data team at the IFM (APM) conference on July 12-17 in Portland, OR. Learn what neuroendocrine testing with Labrix and Doctor's Data can do for your patients and your practice. Dr. Erin Lommen will be presenting a lunch lecture on hormones on Thursday, July 12.
Portland, OR: July 27 - 29, 2018
Dr. Robyn Kutka, ND will be presenting "Sleep Solutions: NeuroEndocrine Answers to Wakeful Nights" at the IWHIM conference in Portland, OR. Stop by the Labrix and Doctor's Data booth during the conference to learn more about utilizing functional testing for patients with insomnia, mood disorders and more.
Strategies for Patient Stress
Stress. We all feel it. When the babysitter cancels or we are sitting in traffic or trying to meet a big deadline at work…we can feel the effects of stress: increased heart rate, anxiety, upset stomach, sweating. And when these stressors continue unabated over weeks, months, and years, we begin to observe the effects of chronic stress: cognitive concerns, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and mood disturbances.
As practitioners, we have a variety of tools to help our patients. Traditionally, adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola and Ashwaganda are excellent choices for rebuilding adrenal health. Vitamins like B5 and B6, C and E are important components of any treatment plan. When HPA axis dysfunction is significant, practitioners may turn to glandular therapy or hydrocortisone for support. A patient’s response to these therapies can be profound, but there is an additional approach that may be especially beneficial…supporting patients as they work on their perception of stress.
A study of almost 30,000 participants explored the relationship between the experience of stress, the perception of how stress affects health, and mortality. Researchers used data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Here’s what they found:
- Those who reported experiencing high stress and who also believed that stress adversely affected health had a 43% increase in the risk of premature death.
- Those who experienced high stress but didn’t believe it to be harmful were at the lowest risk of dying – even lower than people who didn’t experience a lot of stress.
Your brain can't tell the difference between real and perceived danger, so stress levels jump when an individual faces a real physical threat or a perceived threat. However, stress alone isn’t dangerous; perceiving it to be is. Thus, changing the way we think about stress may change its physical and emotional impact.
How can we help our patients rethink the way that they perceive the stress in their lives? According to Endler and Parker, coping styles can be categorized into three general types, which can help patients feel more in control.
- Problem focused coping: this is task oriented and involves strategies aimed at taking action to modify a stressful situation (i.e. leaving 10 minutes earlier to avoid getting stuck in traffic).
- Emotion focused coping: this is person oriented and is directed at regulating emotions cued by the stressor (i.e. using mindful meditation to reframe the response to stress).
- Avoidance coping: this approach to stress is usually either task oriented (i.e. distracting oneself with another task) or person oriented (social diversion, such as seeking out friends for an outing), and are generally directed at distancing oneself from a stressful situation.
Here are some reframing strategies we can share with our patients:
- Rethink stress to be something positive rather than something harmful, i.e. an opportunity for growth and learning.
- Utilize Positive Reappraisal:
- Frame stress as a challenge rather than a threat. When you do this, you become alive to the opportunities, rather than the threats
- Rather than thinking of stress as the enemy, think of it as something that’s going to energize you and get your body ready to perform at its prime. The body’s physiological response to stress is helping it rise to the challenge.
- Use mindfulness as a tool to reframe thoughts about stress.
Stress isn’t avoidable, but we can help to change the affect it has on our patient’s lives by teaching them to reframe the way they think about it. The harmful effects of stress on health are not inevitable. How we think and how we act can transform the experience of stress, and thus the effects on emotional and physical health.
Garland E, Gaylord S, Park J. The Role of Mindfulness in Positive Reappraisal. Explore (NY). 2009; 5(1): 37-44.
Keller A, et al. Does the perception that stress affects health matter? The association with health and mortality. Health Psychol. 2012 Sep; 31(5): 677-684.
N.S. Endler, J.D.A. ParkerCoping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS): Manual Multi-Health Systems, Toronto (1999)