Stress can wreak havoc on our lives, but did you know that it can also wreak havoc on our minds and bodies? Left unchecked, it could cause significant damage to our vital organs and overall health. Diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes are major issues often associated with high or continuously elevated stress levels. Health issues aren’t the cause rather the symptoms of stress.
When discussing the ill effects of stress, it’s not only major events that are to blame. Job loss and the ending of a dear relationship no doubt are high stressors that cause adverse effects on health, but there are countless smaller, more trivial matters that can also play a major role, especially if they occur on a daily basis.
For instance, being stuck in traffic or having an inept co-worker on your team are never fun and if you’re of the personality that doesn’t cope well with stress, even slight inconveniences can turn into full-blown meltdowns or cause significant responses such as headaches, rapid breathing, and insomnia, among others.
What happens is your hypothalamus, the small control center in your brain, sends out signals and orders to the pituitary gland, which triggers the adrenal glands to release epinephrine. This hormone triggers the body’s natural reaction of fight or flight, which rapidly increases heart rate, quickens breathing, and tenses up muscles all to prepare the body to fight or run in order to protect itself from the perceived threat.
That response is by design. It’s there to protect us in an emergency situation, but, you see, not all stressors are emergencies. This day in age, few people on the planet have to hunt for their food and hope the enemy doesn’t kill them in the process, but our bodies, specifically the hypothalamus, don’t know that. It hasn’t evolved with society. All it knows is to react quickly, lest fall prey to a wild beast. The problem lies in how we recover from such a heightened reaction. If the stress continues, the hypothalamus will continue firing signals, day after day, and wreaking havoc on our overall comfort and putting our health at risk.
There is a long list of ailments caused by chronic stress.
1. Headache Stress can trigger and intensify tension headaches.
2. Insomnia It makes it harder to go to sleep and stay asleep.
3. Heartburn It increases the production of stomach acids that can lead to heartburn.
4. Depression Chronic stress can wear you down emotionally and may lead to depression.
5. High Blood Sugar It causes your liver to release extra glucose into the bloodstream, which can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes.
6. Risk of a Heart Attack Over time, increased heart rates and high blood pressure damage arteries and can lead to a heart attack.
7. Rapid Breathing The muscles that help you breathe tense up and can leave you short of breath.
8. Weakened Immune System Long-term stress weakens the immune system’s defenses.
9. Pounding Heart Stress hormones make your heart pump faster so that blood can quickly reach your vital organs and limbs.
10. High Blood Pressure It can tighten blood vessels, which raises blood pressure.
11. Fertility Problems Stress interferes with the reproductive system in both men and woman and may make it more difficult to conceive.
12. Stomachache Stress affects the body’s digestive system, which may lead to nausea and tummy troubles.
By Jaime Lopez