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As science gains greater insight into the consequences of stress on the brain, the picture that emerges is not a pretty one. A chronic overreaction to stress overloads the brain with powerful hormones that are intended only for short-term duty in emergency situations. Their cumulative effect damages and kills brain cells.

So, what are the forces that cause stress? These forces are called stressors.


A stressor is a force that disrupts balance within the body. A healthy body functions within a normal balance called homeostasis. When this balance is compromised by too much stress, we call it dis-ease or disease. There are 3 categories of stressors that affect your health. They are physical, emotional and chemical.  All three of these stressors can have an adverse affect on homeostasis which can create disease. Dr. Stephen Cohen of Merrick Woods Chiropractic can help you identify these stressors and take the appropriate steps in addressing your complaint.

Chemical stress is a result of your exposure to chemical substances (both natural and man-made) that take a toll on your body. It comes from the chemicals in the food you eat, exposure to household chemicals, and the pollutants you inhale. Chemicals can cause reactions ranging from hives or allergies to more serious conditions like cancer. In today’s day and age, we live in a chemical soup. However, there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure and strengthen your body’s ability to handle chemical stress. Let our Merrick chiropractor explain how to combat this type of stress.

Physical stress is a result of either a macro-trauma or multiple micro-traumas. A macro-trauma is when a physical force pushes your body past its ability to adapt to the force. An example of this is an automobile accident or a pulled hamstring when running. A micro-trauma is when a body encounters a physical situation that we generally don’t recognize as being traumatic-like keyboarding on a computer. Because we don't recognize the mini trauma, we continue to perform the activity. An example of this is carpal-tunnel syndrome. It can take months or years of sitting, for example, in front of a keyboard before signs of carpal tunnel syndrome become apparent.

Physical stress can also come from lack of movement which causes something called deconditioning. Deconditioning occurs when the muscles that support the body do not encounter enough of a challenge to stay in shape. Shockingly, deconditioning can occur in as little as three days. In today’s work environment, sitting for long periods of time can cause deconditioning. Do you know someone who sits for a living? If so, tell them about Dr. Stephen Cohen.

Emotional stress is caused by our perception of events that occur in our life. You may notice that an event that causes you stress may not elicit the same response in someone that you know. That is because your perception of the event is the stressor—not the event itself. In that respect, emotional stress is a bit different from the other types. What is consistent with the other stressors, however, is that chronic emotional stress causes the hormone cortisol to be secreted on a continuous basis. Cortisol is a necessary hormone in the human body but continuous long term secretion of the hormone causes a wide range of effects including poor sleep, weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and a myriad of other diseases.

Effective management techniques are essential in dealing with stress. Dr. Stephen Cohen of Merrick Woods Chiropractic can help you to develop skills for your stress “tool belt” which will assist you in your stress management.