The test, a brainchild of researchers from the University of Cincinnati, uses a biosensor that measures stress hormones through sweat, blood and urine. In their preliminary paper, which the researchers published in the American Chemical Society Sensors, they highlighted the device's potential, in particular, for home application. The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force Research Lab sponsored the study.
"I wanted something that's simple and easy to interpret," said Andrew Steckl, a co-author of the study and a professor of electrical engineering at UC. "This may not give you all the information, but it tells you whether you need a professional to take over."
For most people, stress is deeply ingrained in daily life. While healthy levels of stress can help a person perform better in school or work, being subjected to elevated levels of stress can lead to bad habits like sleep deprivation and overeating. Over time, chronic stress can lead to the development of more serious conditions, like atherosclerosis. For UC researcher Prajokta Ray, who is also the study's first author, the primary motivation behind the study was to develop a test that was cheap, effective, and affordable.
The device, which is currently in its development phase, uses UV spectroscopy to measure stress-related hormones and neurotransmitters. These compounds include cortisol – better known as the stress hormone, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and neuropeptide. The device detects their concentrations in various bodily fluids.
"You're not going to replace a full-panel laboratory blood test. That's not the intent," Steckl noted. "But if you're able to do the test at home because you're not feeling well and want to know where you stand, this will tell whether your condition has changed a little or a lot."
Despite the device being in its early stages, people can still make use of other natural methods to manage their stress levels. Here are some ways to naturally reduce stress. (Related: How to Manage Stress and Anxiety Naturally.)
Getting the body moving is a great way to help relieve mental stress. Exercise, in particular, helps lower cortisol levels in the body and releases endorphins. The latter improves mood and offers pain relief. Additionally, exercising helps a person get better sleep.
People who feel stressed out often feel that they cannot manage things. However, making simple behavioral changes can greatly help manage, even avoid, stress. For instance, if the sound of honking cars is exceptionally irritating, try to avoid these areas, or plan a different route to avoid being stressed out.
Studies have found that practicing either yoga or meditation can help reduce stress levels as it develops mindfulness and improves mental health.
Social support, such as talking to others and listening, can go a long way when it comes to stress relief. Both men and women benefit from camaraderie and friendship, so make some time to interact with others.
Learn more about stress relief for maintaining overall health at Health.news.