Stress can be brief and highly situational, and yet other times more persistent and complex. It can be normal and useful in preparing us for challenges or motivating us to accomplish certain tasks.
Some people thrive in a world of stress, and yet for many others it can be a constant interference with daily life. Many emotional and physical disorders are linked to stress, and in fact, it’s hard to think of any part of the body or condition that is not affected by it.
Here are some of the most common health conditions related to long term stress.
Hormones and neurotransmitters which regulate a vast range of psychological and physiological functions can be elevated or depleted from stress. Common psychological effects or conditions from stress include anxiety, phobias, depression, impulse control, addiction, improper social behavior, and insomnia.
Your immune system becomes weakened by stress, lowering resistance to opportunistic invaders like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It makes us more susceptible to severe conditions, from the common cold and herpes to AIDS and certain cancers, as well as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. It also triggers overreactions of certain white blood cells that initiate inflammatory responses causing chronic allergies and asthma.
Digestion becomes sluggish causing delayed stomach emptying, indigestion, and constipation. It can develop into ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis.
Chronic elevated blood pressure (hypertension) from stress affects the circulatory system by damaging the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and even the eyes. Heart failure or heart attacks, aneurisms, blood clots, strokes, kidney dysfunction, and even vision problems are common outcomes. Stress contributes to or worsens diabetes by causing the release of stored sugar (glycogen) from the liver, thereby raising glucose levels in the blood.
Connective tissue like muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and fascia become weakened by stress, increasing the likelihood of common musculoskeletal conditions like strains, sprains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and tendonitis. Stress is a leading contributor to the development of myofascial pain, chronic fatigue, and irritable bowel syndromes, as well as fibromyalgia.
Stress diminishes the quality and texture of your skin and hair, causes development of rashes, hives, and eczema, and flares up psoriasis.
Be determined to set aside time during your week for activities that you enjoy, including those that help reduce your stress. It can help you live a longer, happier, and healthier life.