Do you ever feel your head start to hurt as your stress level rises? Do you worry so much about your job that you start to get pain in your chest or stomach? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you are not alone. A recent study found that between 2008 and 2011, more people than ever before searched the Internet for answers to questions about stress-related health problems.
HARD TIMES LEAD TO HEALTH WORRIES
The time between 2008 and 2011 has been called “The Great Recession.” The United States financial system was doing poorly, and this resulted in many people losing their homes and jobs. Even for people who had a job or a house, people lived in fear that a big loss was right around the corner.
Experts looked at the number of people doing searches on the Internet for stress-related health problems such as headache, chest pain, and stomach ulcers. During the most recent economic downturn, the number of people who searched for facts about headaches and stomach ulcers was more than double than expected. Searches for heart-related complaints like chest pain increased by one-third. Experts also found out that the number of people who looked for info about back pain, joint pain, toothaches, and stomach pain was greater than expected.
WHAT DO THESE RESULTS MEAN FOR YOU?
This study shows that how you feel in your mind can affect how your body feels. Stress and being worried all the time can take its toll and give you chest pain, back pain, an upset stomach, or a headache.
Everyone has stress in life at some point in time, so the best thing you can do is to find a way to deal with stress that helps you feel better.
If you feel really sick, or have a lot of pain, talk to your healthcare provider instead of just looking on the Internet for advice. Even if you are under a lot of stress, there could be another reason why you feel sick.
Friends, family, and your healthcare team are there to help you when the going gets tough. So don’t turn to the Internet for health guidance. Get help from people in your lives who know you well and can help you deal with your stress before it affects your long-term health.
By Robert Ehrman, MD