Stress is a normal part of life. You might experience stress daily when you’re about to attend an important meeting at work, give a presentation in front of a group of people, or it’s your first day at a new place of work.
Stress can trigger your body’s fight-or-flight response, which is activated anytime you sense a threat or a specific stressor. While stress helps us respond more productively to any problem, too much stress can negatively affect the mind and body.
Read on to learn the symptoms of chronic stress and why it can be bad for your health.
What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Stress?
- Decreased energy levels
- Headache and pains
- Trouble getting proper sleep
- Feeling of helplessness
- Frequent illnesses
- Disorganized thinking
- Upset stomach
- Nervousness and anxiety
The Effect of Stress Hormones
When your body senses danger, a part of the brain produces stress hormones. These hormones prepare the mind and body to face danger and make you more capable of survival.
One of the most important stress hormones is adrenaline, also known as the fight-or-flight hormone. Adrenaline can:
- Increase breathing rate
- Increase heartbeat
- Stimulate perspiration
- Contract the blood vessels
- Hinder insulin production
While adrenaline is very helpful in stressful situations, frequent adrenaline production can:
- Cause damage to the blood vessels
- Cause Anxiety
- Increase the risk of heart attack and stroke
- Cause high blood pressure and hypertension
- Lead to weight gain
- Affect sleep quality
The overproduction of other stress hormones like cortisol can also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, causing a lack of energy, high blood pressure, sleep problems, brain fog, and even osteoporosis.
Effects on the Immune System
Frequent surges of stress hormones can hurt the immune system. Stress hormones can weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to illnesses like the common cold and other viral infections.
A weakened immune system also means your body will require a longer time to recover from an illness.
Effects on Your Cardiovascular and Respiratory Health
During any stress response, you might find yourself breathing faster to efficiently distribute oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. This can impact individuals who already have respiratory problems like emphysema or asthma, making breathing harder for them.
Stress also makes the heart pump faster. The constriction of blood vessels can elevate your blood pressure and make your heart work even harder than it usually does. This can increase the chances of getting a stroke or a heart attack.
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