Guide to POTS

Hoping this makes a confusing chronic illness diagnosis easier

POTS and Stress

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I can only speak to my own experience and hope that it gives you some insight into what POTS is and how it can affect you or the people around you.

What Stress Does to the Body

We still do not know the full extent of what stress does to our bodies, but we do know that it can affect all parts of our body, including, but not limited to, the digestive system, heart, and nervous system. I have attached a good article in the “Further Reading” section that provides more information.

With POTS, stress can have an even greater impact on your symptoms. For example, in a normal, healthy body, stress may cause nausea. However, with POTS, where nausea is already present, stress-induced nausea can worsen the situation.

Stress in POTS

One of the effects of stress is an increase in heart rate. For people with POTS, who already have a high heart rate, stress can further elevate it. Stress also leads to blood pressure fluctuations, and since fluctuating blood pressure is a main symptom of POTS, stress intensifies the symptoms.

Autonomic dysfunction is a significant issue in POTS, as it disrupts the nervous system, causing pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fatigue. Stress greatly affects the autonomic system, exacerbating POTS symptoms. Additionally, stress can disturb sleep, leading to increased daytime fatigue.

Solutions I’ve Found

I practice yoga every day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Yoga not only helps maintain muscle tone but also provides stress relief. When I skip yoga in the morning, my students can tell because I tend to become more stressed. Meditation is another helpful practice, as both yoga and meditation focus on breathing and regulating heart rate, which can alleviate POTS symptoms.

Consider talking to a professional, such as a therapist, who can assist in managing your stress. If you prefer not to consult a professional, reach out to the people around you and see if they can help alleviate some of your stress. For instance, your partner could handle the laundry for the week until your project is finished, or you could dine out to save time for homework.

It is important to remember that managing stress with POTS is highly individualized, and what works for one person may not work for another. Consulting with healthcare professionals experienced in POTS management can provide personalized guidance and support in developing a stress management plan.

Further Reading

Hanaka, Joanna. “The Emotional & Mental Health Impact of POTS Symptoms.” Cardiogram, 21 October 2022, Accessed 4 June 2023.

“Stress Effects on the Body.” American Psychological Association, 1 November 2018, Accessed 4 June 2023.

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