Stress and depression

Stress and depression


What happens to our body when it is subjected to prolonged stressful stimuli?

Stress can be acute or chronic: in the first case it is a response of our body to a situation that puts us on alert and in a state of strong tension. If this is prolonged over time, a state of anxiety is created which causes stress to become chronic.

Cortisol, stress hormone

When a traumatic event occurs, our body produces cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, whose function is to make more energy available to the muscles and reduce the state of inflammation with effects also on other organs (heart, lungs, circulatory system). In this way the body tends to restore its balance.

However, if it is released for a prolonged time, cortisol can have negative consequences on our body by depleting the body’s resources to adapt and return to a state of balance.

Stress as a cause of physical and mental illness

A traumatic stimulus, as various studies have shown, can alter the white blood cells, weakening the immune system and making us more fragile against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.
The symptoms of a stressful condition can be physical (e.g. pain, muscle tension especially in the cervical area, colitis, tachycardia, sleep disturbances, etc.), behavioural (e.g. bruxism, eating problems), emotional (mood swings, anxiety, nervousness, depression), cognitive (poor concentration, memory loss).

Osteopathy and the global approach to treating stress symptoms

The osteopathic approach, considers the individual as a whole as made up of body and mind: when one part of the system is altered it produces effects on the others, creating a dysfunction.
The regulation of cortisol in the body is managed by the autonomic nervous system, which is divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system and interacts with the endocrine system to stimulate the production of hormones.

The sympathetic and parasympathetic functions alternate throughout the day to keep the system in balance. In the presence of prolonged high levels of stress, hyper-activation of the sympathetic system can occur and a consequent loss of balance of the system.

stress depression osteopathy treatment

Osteopathic treatment

Osteopathy is able to work indirectly on the balance of the nervous system, going to “inhibit” or “stimulate” the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system through specific techniques.

Having a tension in the cervical area can cause an alteration of the signal quality of one of the most important nerves we have, the vagus nerve. Its course goes from the base of the skull through the jugular foramen, until it innervates most of the visceral organs.

By acting directly on the cervical tension caused by stress, a parasympathetic response is obtained which will result in a decrease in muscle tone and a better balance of the nervous system.

Another area often affected in stressful situations is the rib cage and the ability to breathe properly. Often there is a feeling of shortness of breath and tightness in the breastbone. This is an effect due to over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
Thanks to specific techniques on the ribs and diaphragm, the osteopath manages to restore respiratory capacity and above all obtains an improvement in the tone of the sympathetic nervous system throughout the body.

Osteopathy acts on the effects of chronic stress by improving the osteo-muscular, visceral and fascial component of the body and restoring physiology and homeostasis.

In order to reduce the effects of stress, the osteopath will be able to advise you to improve your lifestyle, carry out more suitable physical activity for you, or even refer you to colleagues such as psychologists and nutritionists who are essential for fighting stress.

A 360-degree approach is needed to obtain a more effective result.

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