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More Doctors Incorporating Stress Management In Practices

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A study has found 10 percent of adults do nothing to manage their stress, but doctors are now incorporating stress management into their practices to help their patients.

For Leah Grossman, living in a new town was stressful before she got help.

“I was feeling like I was being strangled and drowning, “said Grossman.

To get back above water, Grossman went to see a physician who specializes in stress management.

“She did some meditation with me in the office the first visit. She suggested I attend a Tai Chi class,” said Grossman.

Like Grossman, 42 percent of adults said their stress level has gone up in the past five years, and doctors are taking notice.

“Stress is implicated and can exacerbate a number of medical conditions all the way from a common cold to a heart attack,” said Dr. Aditi Nerurkar of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Dr. Nerurkar, who has a stress management practice, said her goal, when she sees an ailing patient, is to, “take a step back and zoom out and look at the patient as a whole and address their stress as it affects their entire being, rather than a particular body system.”

Dr. Adam Perlman also works with people to reduce the pressures they feel in everyday life.

Necia Gooch came in with headaches and back and stomach pain.

“There was a good focus on the details that fill my life and, and what stresses are there,” said Gooch.

Dr. Perlman said the practice of looking at the whole picture is catching on.

“Stress in our current society is really an epidemic if you think about it.  So, more doctors do seem to be incorporating stress management into their practices.  There is a growing demand also from patients,” said Dr. Perlman.

Why the push to bring stress reduction to primary care?

“It can raise blood pressure. It can certainly raise your heart rate. It can give you stomach problems.  The challenge of stress is it impacts everything.  It truly is a primary care issue on the front lines for our patient,” said Dr. Reid Blackwelder of the American Academy of Family Physicians President.

Doctors agree there is no one anti-stress solution for all patients and when you see a doctor for stress, they treat your body as well as your mind.

Dr. Nerurkar gives each patient she sees a stress score.  When Grossman first came in, hers was 22. She is now down to 15.

“I feel more grounded, I feel more in charge.  I feel like I’m back on the road to being myself,” said Grossman.

Dr. Nerurkar said the five elements of stress reduction she addresses with patients are: sleep, diet, exercise, social support and meditation.

She points out having some stress in your life, at healthy levels, can be a good thing. It can motivate you to be productive and take on challenges.

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