Treatments For Stress Reduction
A form of psychotherapy called medical psychotherapy is one of the methods used to deal with stress. It is primarily a talking therapy based on the principle that when people can talk about what is troubling them, they can lessen the amount of stress they feel. It is important for the therapist to understand the nature of the illness around which the stress is involved. In this kind of supportive therapy, the goal is to help patients deal with the feelings stimulated by traumatic events, illness, or conflicts that produce stress. Medications may also be used, such as anti-anxiety or antidepressant drugs, which are best administered by a psychiatrist knowledgeable about stress-induced disorders. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that two-thirds of their patients come for treatment of a stress-related condition.
Selye believed that the stress of life contributed a great deal to aging. A method of treatment for stress developed after his theories became popular was called progressive relaxation. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and creative visualization are often used successfully to reduce stress and boost the immune system. Often, life-style changes are necessary also, such as a healthier diet, smoking cessation, aerobic exercise, and group discussions.
Advances in biochemical research hold a promising future for the treatment of stress and its related diseases. A 1995 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 1997 indicated that researchers have identified a peptide in the brain and the body—prepro-TRH178-199—which significantly reduces hormonal and behavioral manifestations of stress by as much as 50%. This peptide acts by reducing levels of ACTH and prolactin—another pituitary hormone stimulated by stress—which subsequently lowers cortisol levels. By reducing levels of these hormones, anxiety-related behaviors and fear were significantly decreased. Because the overproduction of cortisol is also found in serious depression, and anxiety disorders such as anorexia nervosa, the prepro-TRH peptide may also become a valuable new approach in treating these disorders.
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