|Victims & Stress: The Effects of Stress Due to Pastoral Sexual Abuse—James Marcum, M.D.|
(From the January 2009 edition of HopeSpeak)
Autumn’s colors were dimming that November afternoon when I first met Susan.* She was the last patient that Thursday afternoon and had traveled quite a few miles for me to evaluate her heart. She was tall with short, blonde hair and was wearing a light green sweater. As I listened, she began telling me about her symptoms. She was having frequent palpitations, shortness of breath, headaches, a poor appetite and could not sleep at night. I scanned her previous evaluations and looked at her X-ray and electrocardiogram. I felt like I knew what the problem was, but I needed, not more tests, but more information.
Susan’s physical exam was normal, however, I noticed this thirty-something woman could not look me in the eyes and sat in a slumped position. I expressed that I felt like these symptoms could be explained by extra stress on the body with the resultant release of the stress chemicals epinephrine, cortisol, and a host of others. I probed further. “Do you think your body is under stress?”
We talked more and developed a plan to control stress. She realized the mind and body on a chemical level were interrelated. Unresolved conflict, whether in a relationship, in a family, at work, or with our God, could cause increased stress chemicals and disease. Often our poor coping mechanisms contribute as well.
Dr. James L. Marcum is speaker/director of Heartwise Ministries. He is a Cardiologist practicing with the Chattanooga Heart Institute and a member of the board of directors of The Hope of Survivors.
* Name changed for privacy.