The Founder / Interviews

Column in La Tercera Newspaper - Stress, Anguish and Alzheimers

Alzheimer and Stress that is not managed well are typical evils of our times.

By Dario Salas Sommer, December, 2004 Chile

The end of the year is a time for balance. But it’s also a time of weariness of body and mind, built up over the course of a year of work and month of worries over matters such as Christmas gifts, organization of parties, and children moving on to another year in school [translator note: Christmas/New Year in South America falls during the summer school holidays].

Those people who become the most upset when facing disturbing situations are also the most likely to suffer from Alzheimer's disease, which involves a serious loss of memory and mental capacity, leading eventually to death. Those who exhibit the least ability to handle stress also suffer from a tendency towards melancholy and anguish; this finding comes as a result of a study recently carried out by researchers at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago.

The great majority of people define stress as the worst disease of our age. However, they are only partially correct, because it is not a disease at all; rather, it is the effort that the body makes to adapt to constant change in the individual’s environment. Nobody is free of stress. It is a phenomenon that characterizes all living beings who must deal with the environment, and this is something that takes place throughout life. What is even clearer is that stress is necessary for survival, so it should not be taken as something that is necessarily harmful.

We must change our cultural concept and understand that there is a normal type of stress and a pathological type, whose negative characteristics can precipitate high blood pressure, cardiovascular and kidney disease, arthritis, mental, nervous, and sexual disorders, digestive illnesses, metabolic disorders and even cancer.

There are certain modern currents of thought that deal with positive and negative stress. They affirm that there are some people who ‘function’ better under stress, while others are easily overcome by it. The tendency is to treat the pathological type of stress exclusively with tranquilizers, which provide only temporary relief and cannot be administered indefinitely due to their adverse effects on the patient's mind and body.

In my opinion, medical science has still failed to recognize the great importance of relaxation as a natural factor in the prevention and cure of anxiety states. It is important that it do so, and the sooner the better, because such states affect inter-relationships, social integration, health, and a person’s very existence.

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