Stress Affects Treatment Outcomes: What to Know

Published On: April 11th, 2023Categories: Healthy Living, Helpful Tips & Tricks, Patients

Stress can put you at increased risk for a variety of physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, muscle tension and pain, heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep problems, weight gain, and memory and concentration impairment. These health problems can lead to decreased quality of life and a decrease in the effectiveness of a medical treatment- leading to a decreased likelihood of success. 

The effects of stress on treatment outcomes can be seen in the amount of time it takes to achieve results. Stress can interfere with recovery and impede progress, leading to a longer period of time before improvement is seen. This can be especially true for those with chronic conditions, as the long-term effects of stress can make it difficult to maintain progress. Stress can also make it difficult to adjust to new treatments and therapies. This can lead to a decrease in motivation, lack of adherence to treatment regimens, and other negative outcomes. Overall, it is important for individuals to recognize how stress can affect their treatment outcomes and to take steps to reduce their exposure to stress in order to maximize the effectiveness of their care. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol can increase inflammation, lower the body’s immune response, and interfere with healing processes. Stress can produce physical pain and fatigue, leading to a decrease in motivation to follow prescribed protocols. It is important to identify how you’re responding to stressful situations and develop strategies to manage your stress in order to obtain optimal results from treatment protocols.

Defining Stress

According to the American Psychological Association, it is defined as “any uncomfortable emotional experience accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes.” In other words, it’s an emotional and physical reaction to situations or events that are perceived as threatening—be it a big presentation at work or the loss of a loved one. In medical settings, understanding how stress may impede treatment outcomes is more important than ever. Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are released when you face stressful events, and they can cause changes in physiological processes that affect your well-being over time. In order to make sure that treatment plans will be efficient and successful, medical practitioners must take into account the causes of stress and create an effective treatment protocol that helps manage a patient’s stress levels. 

How Stress Impacts Medication Adherence

In order for any treatment protocol to be effective, it is essential that the patient follows strict medication adherence. But when patients are in a state of heightened stress, they are less likely to take their medication as prescribed. This means fewer people will receive the full benefit of the prescribed treatment regimen. Furthermore, when a patient is stressed and overwhelmed, they might not take the time to properly understand a treatment plan—they may skip out on critical information such as dosage or timing. Stress caused by a diagnosis can also have an impact on whether or not someone takes medication at all—it’s common for someone to be so overwhelmed by a diagnosis or concerned about side effects that treatment is interrupted- thwarting even the best-laid plans for effective outcomes.

The Effects of Stress on Treatment Outcomes

Stress has been found to play a role in treatment outcomes, especially when it comes to chronic diseases. A study on the effect of stress on treatment outcomes showed that those with high levels of stress had worse outcomes than those with low levels of stress. Stress can have a variety of effects, including difficulty sleeping and changes in appetite, which can lead to poorer adherence to medical treatment protocols. Poor adherence can cause treatments to be less effective or even fail altogether. Some ways to reduce the impact that stress has on treatments include:

  1. Adopting healthy habits and lifestyle choices
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Seeking support from friends, family or mental health professionals
  4. Practicing stress management techniques such as meditation or yoga

By reducing the level of stress in your life, you can help ensure that treatments have the best chance of success and improve your overall well-being.

Strategies for Managing Stress During Treatments

Managing stress can be key to improving treatment outcomes. There are a number of strategies individuals can adopt to help manage stress during treatment protocols, such as:

Self-care: Self-care is an important part of managing stress in any situation – and it is especially important when undergoing treatments. Taking the time to do activities that make you feel good, such as going for a walk in nature or practicing mindfulness, can have an incredibly positive impact on your mental and emotional health.

Thought reframing: Negative thoughts can trigger more stress and worsen the effects of the treatments you are undergoing. Practicing thought reframing is an excellent way to recognize negative thoughts and alter them in a more positive direction.

Emotional support: Having someone you trust to talk to about your worries and fears can be incredibly beneficial when facing stressful treatments. Connect with friends, family members or counselors to help process these emotions.

By incorporating these strategies into your life, you can better manage the stress associated with treatments and improve the outcomes of your health journey.

Managing Stress in Order to Improve Treatment Outcomes

It is widely accepted that managing stress can be a key factor in improving treatment outcomes. In an effort to better understand the effects of stress on treatment, studies have consistently revealed that people who are regularly exposed to high levels of stress show poorer outcomes when undergoing medical treatments.

Physical Health

Stress has been shown to have a direct and significant effect on physiological health, such as the immune system, digestion, and blood pressure. When medical treatments and the usual stresses of life are combined, it can prove difficult for the body to cope. This means that those who are already under high amounts of stress will likely receive less benefit from a treatment they undergo due to their weakened condition.

Mental Health

High stress levels can also have a significant impact on mental health, often leading to poor judgment, impaired decision-making, and difficulty managing emotions. This can further contribute to reduced treatment success. When it comes to ensuring positive outcomes from any type of medical treatment incorporating strategies for managing stress is an essential factor for achieving the best results.

While stress affects treatment outcomes, there are ways to combat it. Taking a proactive approach to the management of stress and its effects can have a dramatic and positive impact on one’s well-being and the ability to adhere to medical protocols. Developing a plan of action to address stress and its effects will not only improve adherence to medication and treatment protocols, but also enhance overall quality of life.

PFSP Specialty Pharmacy provides patients and their physicians an exceptionally high standard of care with our growing team of specialized pharmacists and staff. Our dedicated team of pharmacists focus on improving adherence for patients and work to find an approach that works best for them. Bringing a fresh take on what a Specialty Pharmacy can and should be, we are committed to the care of our patients. We take pride in being an ethical resource within our community and strive each day to help our patients live enriching and full lives.