Stress is something that we all have felt at one point or another, but when managing a chronic illness, increased stress over longer periods of time can cause some unwanted issues, more specifically, flare ups.
Unfortunately there aren’t any scientifically published studies about flare ups, stress, and EDS; but there are studies about other chronic illnesses and conditions and the impact stress has on bodily function. There have been studies surrounding Crohn's disease, Fibromyalgia, Ulcerative Colitis, and Lupus, and there is thought that there are similar characteristics between these stress flare ups and EDS stress flare ups.
But why does this happen? When we are stressed, our bodies can go into fight or flight (Fun Fact: there is a link between increased fight or flight activation and Dysautonomia). Going into fight or flight triggers the release of a ton of different chemicals, including cytokines, which are molecules that turn on our immune system, which leads to inflammation.
If you have read any of our posts about inflammation, you may remember that inflammation is one of the leading causes of pain, and can also cause other symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue.
But it’s important to remember that the precise mechanisms of stress and flare ups are still up in the air, but this theory about inflammation, fight or flight, and cytokines seems promising to researchers.
So as we can see stress management should be a key component to our management of chronic illnesses, since it could bring on unwanted and sometimes unnecessary flare ups! When having a chronic illness like EDS/HSD, there are a lot of different scenarios that cause stress, from becoming comfortable with a new lifestyle, to limited mobility.
Thankfully, there are a lot of resources that can help us cope with the stress of such chronic illness. First and foremost, a licensed counselor or psychologist is the best possible tool we can keep in our arsenal. Often times our journey to diagnosis can be tiring and mentally depleting, and therapists can help us work through these struggles in a controlled environment full of validation support.
In addition, a support system of non-medical people is also great! Friends, family, and loved ones with an understanding of your condition are some of the best confidants who are capable of providing us with fun distraction and stress relief.
But always remember that, flare ups can’t always be avoided, and that's okay! But if we can catch the stress before it takes over, hopefully we can ease some of our flare up troubles!
Be sure to consult with your primary care physician or other medical professionals in regards to your medical concerns. This text cannot and should not replace advice from the patient's healthcare professionals. Any person who experiences symptoms or feels that something may be wrong should seek individual professional help for evaluation and/or treatment. This post is for informative purposes only.