Stress—A Modern Epidemic
HAVE you been infected?
It would be surprising if you haven’t, for it is a worldwide epidemic. Famous heart surgeon Dr. Denton A. Cooley has said that the problem “affects every twentieth-century man or woman.”
But this “infection” is not one that you can fight with antibiotics or have cut out on an operating table. Nor does the remedy lie in pills.
Stress has been likened to a dangerous virus that has infected modern man. You probably have noted its symptoms, even felt them yourself—The knot of tension in your stomach. The splitting headache caused by the pressures of life. The feeling that ‘you’re going to explode,’ that you ‘just can’t take it anymore.’ The constant exhaustion.
The South African newsmagazine “To The Point” observed: ‘Beginning in the middle of the 14th century, the plague rampaged through Europe, killing a quarter of the population. But today, six centuries later, Europe and the West are facing a less dramatic but equally devastating and more insidious epidemic. Today’s disease manifests itself in many forms, but all are rooted in a single poison: stress. Dubbed the “Twentieth Century Killer,” stress arises mainly from the psychological demands of life.’
A Killer Epidemic
But is stress really so serious as to be called a “killer”? And should you personally be concerned about it, for yourself as well as for your family? YES!
Researchers are discovering that the modern epidemic of stress has contributed to or caused much disease and death. The same report in “To The Point” continued: “The physical ills [stress] generates now contribute to a vast number of hospital cases and deaths each year—at least tens of millions.”
Recently “The Wall Street Journal” published a front-page article, “Research Is Indicating that Stress Is Linked to Physical Illness.” In part, the report said “that severe or prolonged stress can make the body more vulnerable to ailments ranging from skin rashes and the common cold to heart attacks and cancer.”
Oh, we might feel that a few rashes or colds are not too serious. But all of us can appreciate the seriousness of something that could give us heart attacks or cancer. If we have not been touched by those terrible maladies, we likely know individuals who have.
Some persons may imagine that the epidemic of stress, with its resulting damage, affects only adults in certain high-pressure jobs. But if that were so, why would Dr. Cooley have said that it affects us all? No, stress today afflicts young and old, including many persons whom we might not think would be affected.
In the article “Stress Gives Children Diseases of Adults,” Japan’s “Daily Yomiuri” reported that stress is causing many youths to fall victim to ulcers, heart ailments, diabetes, obesity and exhaustion.
Also, many adults who have to deal with today’s youths are suffering ill effects from stress. An Ontario, Canada, study showed “that teachers die four years earlier than members of other professions and stress is one of the contributing factors.” Many mothers can easily believe that. With just one or two children, mothers today often are under so much stress that they feel frazzled constantly.
Children come into the picture in another way, too. After years of research in Europe and Canada, Dr. Dennis Stott concluded: “Stresses on pregnant women—particularly the tensions of unhappy marriage—are causing widespread physical, mental and emotional damage to children in the womb.”—Toronto Star.
Even if you are well aware of today’s stresses—feeling that this epidemic has already hit you or your loved ones—could you explain what “stress” actually is? How does it affect your body? And, perhaps of greatest interest and importance to you, what, in practical terms, can you do to cope with stress?