Stress Illnesses

Stress Illnesses Specialist
Chronic stress plays a major role in many acute and chronic illnesses, including depression and heart disease. The Drake Institute was initially founded in 1980 to treat stress related illnesses through empowering patients to be able to utilize their brain/mind-body interaction for healing. At the Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine, patients at both Irvine and Northridge, California locations, receive customized treatment plans to address their specific stress illness. Dr. Velkoff and his clinical team use state-of-the-art biofeedback and brain map guided neurofeedback treatment to help relieve and resolve stress-related symptoms and prevent serious medical problems.

Stress Illnesses Q & A

The Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine

What is chronic stress?

Everyone has some level of stress associated with everyday life and activities, juggling busy schedules jam-packed with social, personal, work, and family obligations. But when stress becomes overwhelming and persistent or reaches toxic levels, it can quickly take a major toll on both emotional and physical well-being. It interferes with normal physiological functioning, including the body’s immune system and other organ systems, and increases the risk of acute and chronic diseases and conditions.

What kinds of illnesses can be caused by stress?

Chronic stress has a major influence on the immune system, lowering the body’s natural immune responses so the risk of developing acute illnesses like colds and flus is significantly increased. At the same time, stress can take a toll on other systems and physiologic processes, causing or contributing to problems like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep-related disorders, gastro-intestinal problems, migraine and tension headaches, obesity and inflammation to name just a few. Stress can also exacerbate chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia. And of course, chronic stress can also take a toll on emotional health, increasing feelings of anxiety and depression.

What kinds of symptoms are caused by chronic stress?

Chronic stress symptoms can vary in intensity from one person to another, causing physical and emotional issues like:

  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Headaches
  • Problems sleeping
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Fatigue
  • Overeating, binge eating or other changes in eating patterns
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism) or clenching
  • Neck pain, shoulder pain or back pain
  • Muscle tension or painful “knots” (trigger points)
  • Digestive problems

How can I overcome chronic stress?

Treatment for chronic stress begins with an in-depth evaluation using biofeedback instrumentation, patient interviews, reviews of the patient’s medical history and lifestyle factors, and quantitative EEG brain mapping to determine the specific effects of chronic stress on physiological tension levels and brain activity linked to symptoms. These evaluations and measurements provide important information essential for developing a customized treatment plan based on the patient’s unique needs.

Once the evaluation is complete, patients undergo biofeedback and neurofeedback treatment to help them restore normal homeostasis (stable, healthy physiological functioning or balance). The deep relaxation achieved through biofeedback can reverse acute and chronic tension states, resulting in a reduction or relief of symptoms. The patient can use their learned biofeedback self-regulation processes or techniques for the rest of their lives to prevent future stress from dominating and controlling them again; thus, helping to prevent stress illnesses and achieve long-term improvements in emotional well-being and physical health.

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The Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine
4330 Barranca Parkway
Suite 130
Irvine, CA 92604