You May Be Stressed By Thinking 'Healthy' Means Symptom-Free

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I'm not normally a great fan of the Oprah Advice Industrial Complex (particularly the corner of it that I think of as the DODO — Doctor Oz's Dubious Orders) but the other day I came upon a piece that contained a couple of pearls. It was titled "Secret Stressors: What's Making You Feel Frazzled," and included among the possible culprits were noise and money anxiety.

Sounds worthy for publication in The Journal of Duh, but I thought this was a creative twist: You could be stressed by "suburban schlumpiness," that feeling that life is just looking shabby around the edges. And here's where the light bulb turned on for me, the bit on "But What If It's..." Long-Shot Health Worries."

Causes: Between 86 and 95 percent of people report a physical symptom (headache, back pain, a rash, a bump) in any two-week period, says Kelli Harding, MD, a psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia. Most of the time, these aren't serious and are attributable to ordinary hassles such as stress, poor diet and a lack of sleep or exercise. But when some rare case turns out to be life threatening, we all hear about it in detail from the news or from our social network. Adding to our encyclopedic knowledge of the ways the body can betray us (thanks, Internet) are the pharmaceutical commercials with their long lists of potential side effects.

Treatment: It can be hard to accept that being healthy doesn't necessarily mean being symptom-free, says Harding.

Read the full post here.

This program aired on April 2, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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