Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)
Hypertension: What It Means and What You Can Do About It
2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Approximately one in five people in the US have high blood pressurethat's about 50 million people. People with normal blood pressure at age 55 have a 90% lifetime risk for developing hypertension. Thirty percent of people with hypertension are unaware that they have it and it is significantly under-treated with most people who are aware of their high blood pressure. There are more than 250,000 deaths related to hypertension every year, most of which are unnecessary. Heart attacks, strokes, peripheral vascular disease, and kidney failure are the most common causes of disability and death.
Cortisol is a key hormone in the body that is secreted by the adrenal glands. It helps regulate blood pressure, immune functioning, inflammatory response, proper glucose metabolism, and insulin release. It is called the stress hormone given that it is secreted in higher levels during the body's fight or flight (or freeze) response to stress. The upside of cortisol release is it gives a quick burst of energy for survival needs, helps maintain homeostasis in the body, and heightens memory functions. Without the body regularly experiencing a relaxation response, prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream result in higher blood pressure, lowered immunity, increased abdominal fat, blood sugar imbalances, suppressed thyroid function and cognitive performance. More than half of insured Americans take prescription medications, mainly for high blood pressure and cholesterol. Beyond medication, many other treatments for hypertension are available, underutilized, and can make a positive difference.
Consider perceiving all bodily disturbances as symbolic and metaphoric feedback from our bodies alerting us to precisely what needs to be addressed. Even given genetic predisposition, hypertension is often a physical sign of implosion or "acting in," that is, a turning into the body of uncomfortable emotions and pressures called stress. You can manage it or it will manage you!
Intervention begins with gaining clarification of what the diagnosis and symptoms of hypertension or high blood pressure means for the person given their history. One can use a two-prong approach to address hypertension. First, one can provide palliative measures to immediately address the discomforting physical symptoms through the use of several desensitization approaches, including relaxation techniques, visualization and imagery, cognitive reframing, stress and environmental management strategies as well as several key life skills, tools and distinctions.
Secondly, as high blood pressure symptoms begin to positively respond to treatment, then one can move actively to help clients identify the possible causal roots or etiology of the symptoms, including heredity. Besides using psychodynamic, cognitive and systems approaches, the use of belief deconstruction approaches and the mindbody approach of EMDR (Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing) can offer a de-pressurizing, de-sensitizing and de-charging of the hypertensive pattern, lessening or resolving of symptoms, and a much healthier quality of life.
© Copyright 2013 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
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