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5 Ways Stress Affects Your Body

Updated: Mar 4

A bit of stress in life is often harmless, in fact, it’s considered normal. However, when you find yourself being stressed more often than not, it is cause for concern.

While stress is often thought to affect people mentally, this is not all it does. At times, some physical reactions and conditions result from stress as well.

Here are some ways in which stress affects your body.

1. Mental Disorders

Anxiety is a common mood disorder that is often a byproduct of stress. Life experiences and genetics indeed play a role in one's mental health.

However, one theory suggests that hormones released when stressed also disrupt serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical that regulates one's mood. Over time, a continuous disruption in serotonin levels due to stress can cause depression, anxiety and other mental disorders.

2. Insomnia

An adult should get at least 7 hours of good quality sleep every night. It is not very concerning if you fail to fall or stay asleep once in a while. This can happen for a number of reasons, none that are too worrying.

However, insomnia is when you cannot fall or stay asleep for at least three nights in a week, for a month or longer. This brings about fatigue, stress, lack of concentration and irritability.

When left untreated, insomnia can also cause other health issues, including heart problems, weight management issues, depression, and anxiety.

3. Stress Affects Heart Health

Stress can affect your heart in several ways.

The first is that it can contribute to heart disease, abnormal heartbeats and high blood pressure. Similarly, people who already have these conditions will experience worsened symptoms when their stress levels are elevated.

The second way is that stress can make certain blood cells become stickier than they should be. This places one at risk of blood clots and strokes.

These are biological reactions.

Another way stress can affect your heart health is through the adoption of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Some behaviors associated with stress include smoking, binge eating and excessive alcohol consumption. These open you up to a host of other health problems.

4. It Can Cause Skin Problems

The appearance of your skin is often a good indicator of your overall health.

When you are overly stressed, your body releases a hormone that can make the skin more reactive and sensitive. Stress hormones can also aggravate existing skin problems. People with eczema, psoriasis and acne tend to experience more hives and rashes when stressed.

5. It Weakens One’s Immunity

The immune system is a cluster of organs, proteins and cells that work together to protect your body from harmful fungi, bacteria, viruses and toxins. By doing this, your immune system protects you from illnesses and diseases.

Studies have shown that people with chronic stress tend to have fewer white blood cells. These are the cells responsible for fighting disease. As a result, stressed people are more vulnerable to colds and other illnesses.

People with other chronic conditions tend to have more pronounced symptoms during extended stressful periods.

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