Saturday, September 13, 2008

Elder Care: The Link between Stress and Illness

As caregivers for elderly parents, managing day-to-day issues and health emergencies, we are loaded with stress of all sorts. I heard a fantastic interview on my local public radio station this past Sunday (Sept. 7). The interviewee was Esther Sternberg, M.D., a rheumatologist and specialist in neural-immune science. Her latest book is titled The Balance Within.

Much of the interview was spent discussing whether there is a cause and effect relationship between high levels of stress in one's life and illness. In other words, is there scientific evidence connecting the presence of the former with the onset of the latter? Sternberg is a down-to-earth speaker, not a high-fallutin' medical-ese sort of speaker. I was riveted by what she described. It's worth listening to the interview and you can do so on the following website for the program:

Her book, which was published in 2000, addresses question such as:
  • Will stress make us sick?
  • Will believing make us well?
  • Why do we feel sick when we get sick?
  • How does our health affect our moods?
If you're interested to know more about her, her website is
Have you ever experienced a situation where you were pretty darn sure that your health was being affected by the stress in your life?


Athena said...

Thanks for the great link. I have been researching this since becoming a elder caregiver for my father and noticing the stress level in my life hitting all time highs. I have started having arthritis and other joint problems in addition to other symptoms. I knew it was related to stress but it is great to get scientific validation and maybe it will help me find some resources to treat myself. Check out the book: You Breathing Easy - some of the same ideas. (I got this at the library on audio CD). Crystalis

Dina said...

Hi Athena,
I appreciate the additional reference and will look for You Breathing Easy. One of the comments Esther Sternberg made in her interview was how, by taking an opportunity that arose to "get away from it all" she was able to minimize the stresses that were the root cause of her illness and thereby start to heal. Of course, one of the reasons for high stress in the first place is that it's so difficult to get away. You might check some of my other posts on stress for some ideas on this. Thank you for reading and contributing!