Stress the Ultimate Cause of Illness

Stress Ultimate Cause of Illness

The Ultimate Cause of Illness and Disease is Stress 

Stress is the ultimate cause of illness and mortality. Stress is not a disease. Stress causes illness and disease. 90% of what sends people to their physician is stress related illnesses.  Millions of people leave the physicians office with prescriptions for anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and every other kind of pharmaceutical chemical prescription that only tries to treat symptoms, but do not treat the Root Cause, and then there are the long list of pharmaceutical negative side effects on the brain and body .  

Is the pharmaceutical medication bottle half full or half empty? Pharmaceutical medications are chemical toxins with side effects ! 

Yet, the Root causes of Stress are left untreated.  Stress is not an illness or disease.  Let me say it again, Stress causes illness and disease.  

Stress will manifest in a myriad of cognitive complaints, physical illnesses, emotional issues.  If you are interested in understanding more, then read my publications:  3 Types of Stress and Health HazardsNervous Break Down  Stress and Risk for Autoimmune Disease.   Eliminate Self-Defeating Behaviors.  The Neurobiology of Stress.

The Epidemic of Modern Life in Our Society is STRESS

Stress itself is not a disease, but it leads to a breakdown in psychological, body, and brain functioning.  Stress is disease causing. If stress is not relieved damage occurs. As your body and brain experience your reactions to stress triggers, You have become the stressor itself.

Three Inter-related Phases of Stress Damage:

1. Psychological and Neuronal (brain) Stress Damage: 

Psychological and Neuronal (brain Stress begins with A) feeling mentally tired, drained of energy which can mask as depression, anxiety, panic. B) Brain fatigue results in impaired focus, impaired attention/concentration, impaired learning of new information, and impaired memory recall of recent information. It can mask as attention deficit disorder (ADD).  Stress also causes brain inflammation that can lead to irreversible Mild Cognitive Impairment and incipient dementia.

2. Behavioral Stress Damage

Behavioral Stress Damage: Negative changes in behavior most often show up in 2 major areas: relationships and work.  A) friction or arguments B) less productivity and creativity, C) distracting avoidant behavior (e.g. compulsions, addictions, substance abuse, and other self-defeating behaviors) .

3. Physical Stress Damage

Physical Stress Damage: Physical fatigue, allergies, asthma, skin conditions, headaches, compromised immune system functioning, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, heart attack, brain inflammation, stroke, and et cetera.

Causes of Stress

We all react differently to stressful situations.

What is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. Almost anything can cause stress. For some people, just thinking about something or several small things can cause stress. How we react to a situation will affect how stress affects us and our physical and mental health. A person who feels they do not have enough resources to cope will be more likely to have a stronger stress reaction, and also can trigger health problems.

3 Basic Causes of Stress

  1. Physical Stress:  accidents, injuries, falls, and other physical traumas  
  1. Chemical Stress:  bacterium, viruses, hormones in food, processed food, heavy metals, smoking, pollution, blood sugar levels, hang overs, pharmaceutical medications. 
  1. Psychological and Emotional Stress: Relationships, Finances, Jobs, Loss, Family tragedies, Negative Binge Thinking.  

All of these Stresses knock our Brain and Body out of balance.

The Fight or Flight response of a neurobiological chemical cascade kicks in ~ the Fight or Flight or Freeze response (i.e. the chemistry of fear) was great for our ancestors to escape from a tiger.  However, in our modern world the Stress includes your spouse you are trying to escape, or your work demands, or your mortgage is due, or you can’t stop the negative catastrophizing mind chitter chatter playing in your head.  

Your mind is interpreting external variables as threatening and imagining  “What if…” catastrophizing scenarios AND therefore, your brain and body are reacting in Fight-Flight mode in the same way ~  as if your very life depended on it. 

The brain responds to real stress or imagined stress as DANGER:

The triggering of the Fight or Flight response and releasing cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) into the entire system. Check out my full publication on the PsychoNeuroBiology of the Fight-Flight-Freeze response.  

Stress Causes Inflammation in the Brain and Body

Inflammation is a fire and it begins to burn the house down. Stress is Burning Down the House 

When we are in a state of Stress our energy field goes into state of resistance~~~in that energy our blood is affected. It does not flow as affectively and heats up. When we are in stress it is a state of resistance. It is affects the pH.  We become more acidic in stress and inflammation occurs. 

If your body brain circuitry are running on Fight or Flight, acutely, episodically, or chronically health hazardous body brain manifestations occur. Then by definition of scientific evidence you are mobilizing resources from your gut, immune system, elimination system, higher and lower brain centers, and putting energy tension into your muscles to fight for your life; Which then means your cognition, learning, memory is affected; you cant digest your food properly, can’t eliminate toxins from your body properly, and your immune system becomes compromised chronically all of the time !  Yes, Chronically in a psycho-neuro-biological mayhem. 

Chronic Stress will result in Chronic Illness and Mortality

Stress Hormones Inhibit the Immune System 

Stress hormones shut down the immune system.  Here is a simple example of how effective and immediate stress hormones shut down immune system:  When surgeons want to transplant an organ, for example, a heart, from person A to person B, the physician first gives the receiving heart patient stress hormones to shut down the immune systems rejection of a foreign entity. 

How Does Psychological Emotional Stress Make Us Sick? 

Researchers at Michigan State University in East Lansing have revealed how a protein known as corticotropin-releasing factor receptor subtype 1 (CRF1) responds to stress by sending signals to specific immune cells.

Stress causes immune cells to release chemical substances that can trigger a host of diseases, including asthma, lupus, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you want the full list, then read my article: 3 Types of Stress and Health Hazards,  

Mast cells, CRF1, and Stress

Mast cells are immune cells that play a key role in inflammatory and allergic diseases, including asthma, IBS, anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reaction, and lupus.

In response to allergens—such as pollen, dust mites, or peanuts—mast cells release a chemical substance called histamine, which works to rid the body of these allergens. This process is what triggers symptoms of allergy, including watery eyes, runny nose, and airway inflammation.

Previous research has shown that the activity of mast cells—a type of immune cell—heightens in response to psychological stress, and causes a myriad of illnesses.

Common Stress Source Triggers:

  • who am I ?  What is my life purpose? 
  • being bullied 
  • discrimination 
  • job issues or retirement
  • lack of time or money
  • bereavement
  • family problems
  • Physical illness
  • moving away from home
  • college
  • relationships, marriage, and divorce
  • Emotional ~ Mental health illness  

Other commonly reported sources of stress reactivity include:

Experiences that are generally considered positive, but also can lead to stress, include pregnancy, having a baby, going on a trip, moving to a nicer house, relocating to another city or country, and being promoted. All of these situations often involve a major change, extra effort, new responsibilities, and a need for adaptation. They are also steps into the unknown. The person wonders if they will cope.

In Our World, Stress seems to never lets up. 

For most people, Stress is 365 days a year/ 24 hours hours a day; and the net result is illness and disease. 

100% of Diabetes Type 2 has nothing to do with genetics!  It has everything to do with lifestyle, including Stress. 

90% of cardiovascular disease is a result of dealing with stress. 

The Top 10 Things You can Do Now to Reduce the Effects of Stress…And to Stop Burning Down the House. 

  1. Use Herbs and Supplements
  2. Radically changing your diet / Nutrition ~ Whole plant based foods. 
  3. Release suppressed emotions 
  4. Meditate 
  5. Exercise
  6. Increase nurturing self-care 
  7. Increase positive emotions
  8. Embrace Social Support
  9. Deepen your spiritual connection
  10. Have a strong and grateful reason for living 

For Acute Physical Injuries, we need a “Quick Fix”, but for Chronic Illnesses they developed overtime from chronic stress, so the “quick fix” model does not work. We need to get to the Root Cause if we are going to make a difference. 

Summary on Stress the Ultimate Cause of Illness

Life is abundant with problems, challenges and obstacles. For every problem solved, another will present. We often think about problems, challenges, and obstacles as being negative. When we think about them as being negative or overwhelming…there will be reactive energy felt in the body in the forms of physical stress (e.g. tension, aches/pains), emotions (e.g. anxiety, panic attacks), and avoidant behaviors (e.g. social withdrawal, phobias) and reactive behaviors (e.g. substance use, obsessions, compulsions), and compromised brain functioning (e.g. impaired attention/concentration, impaired learning and memory retrieval).

Working Through Stress and Learning To Cope More Effectively

There are many techniques to deal with stress, the underlying issues that trigger stress, and the hazards of stress. If you feel stressed out, or overwhelmed, you should know that life doesn’t have to be this way. 

Together, you and Dr. Shawna, will look into your life to find the sources of your stress, stress triggers, and figure out what to change, or implement. These things may involve your work, your family, or all other areas of your personal life. You will also learn techniques and coping skills to help you relax.

Dr. Shawna is an expert at teaching stress management skills 

She will help you sort through issues and find the best ways to cope in healthy ways and move forward. In addition to being a licensed clinical psychologist, and neuropsychologist, Dr. Shawna is also a holistic healer (Mind-Body medicine) and meditation instructor.

Dr. Shawna is a Master Level 3 Reiki-Tummo healer (balancing Chakras and Bio-Fields-Energy of the body).  

She also uses techniques learned from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction which is based on ancient healing practices and combines yoga techniques and mindfulness meditation.

It is not necessary to practice yoga or meditation, but they are strongly encouraged due to scientific clinical evidence. 

Dr. Shawna teaches proven scientific stress relief techniques

She also does energy healing (Reiki-Tummo- balancing the bio-energy fields of the body) if you are interested and need a quick fix to relax.

Typically, individuals who visit with Dr. Shawna for stress management counseling are experiencing problems sleeping, difficulty relaxing, constantly feel a pressure to do the next thing on their agenda, and just want to relax or chill out, but seem to have forgotten how.

These individuals are typically very busy, high achieving, and ambitious people who work hard and are searching for a sense of tranquility and balance in their life.

Chronic work-related stress corrodes health in two major ways:

Past research has found that chronic work-related stress corrodes health in two major ways: directly, by affecting the nervous and hormonal systems that control heart rhythms, blood vessels, blood clotting, inflammation, and other factors; and indirectly, by fostering unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking, unhealthy eating, self-medicating, alcohol abuse, and lack of exercise.

Dr. Shawna will work with you to learn about sources of stress in your life, as well as ways that you have tried to manage stress in the past. 

Once Dr. Shawna has learned about your personal stressors, she will recommend a program to help you de-stress or chill out and reprogram the BrainBody circuitry. 

Individuals often benefit from sampling a variety of techniques to find the ones that are most relaxing and restorative to better health and productive functioning.

For example, some individuals need support in learning how to structure their day to include stress-relievers, such as exercise and time spent in non-work related activity, while other individuals are searching for specific tools to help them put their stress aside and enjoy themselves during downtime. Still other individuals benefit from guided relaxation therapy to help reduce stress on the spot. Others need a super quick emergency fix of bio-fields energy balancing (Reiki-Tummo healing). 


What ever is best suited for you, Dr. Shawna will flow with you to tailor a stress reduction program for your particular needs.

The order in which these skills are presented is individualized to each patient’s needs, goals, and interests. Anxiety Therapy and Stress Management Therapy can be completed during Concierge visits, and/or by video conferencing for patients who live far away or are simply too busy due to travel.

Take a Breath. Now, take another Breath. I bet you needed That…
Just Breathe and Be,
Dr. Shawna Freshwater

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Shawna Freshwater, PhD

Shawna Freshwater, PhD

Hi, I am Dr. Shawna Freshwater, a PhD licensed Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist, and Holistic Practitioner. ** I provide Psychotherapy, Coaching, Healing, Diagnostic testing & Mental Health Check-ups. ** I meet the needs of my patients and clients that are confidential and convenient to their schedule. ** I offer Remote / Online secure interactive video conferencing to USA residents and International clients. ** I also provide Concierge services at your home, office, or private location of your choice if you reside in South Florida Major Cities. ***Please see my website for more information about my credentials and areas of expertise. Thank you. Dr. Freshwater


  1. Juan on March 24, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Another great post about an important matter in our modern society. Thank you for your time and effort , giving to all the oportunity to learn so much about it.

  2. Individual Therapist Online on February 15, 2022 at 1:47 am

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing and informative blog. As a therapist believes that stress is really a bad thing it destroys the life of a person. I suggest to those who are suffering from this and try to overcome it then make a contact with some good therapist in your near. The therapist tries their best to overcome this issue so that their client can live his life happily.

  3. Edison L. R. on October 11, 2023 at 12:09 pm

    Thanks for the article about this important issue on today’s society . I believe almost everyone went through this problem at least one if not many times in their life’s. Difficult to handle it for many ppl , I stay with the top 10 things you recommend in order to cope with it on every single occasion it happens. Thanks again Dr. Freshwater

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