Sunday, March 26, 2023

Can Stress Cause You To Get Sick

Is It Time To Leave

How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

If stress at work is causing you real, physical pain, and you feel strongly it will continue despite your best efforts, it might be time to go.

Ive watched many clients seesaw when it comes time to make this decision, especially as it relates to walking away from a high-paying job. So I often run them through this very simple pro/con exercise: Make a list of all of the things work gives you, i.e. paycheck, benefits, status, but also headaches, insomnia, panic attacks, etc. Then analyze to determine if the health costs outweigh the benefits.

If the answer is yes, walk away. If the answer is no, remind yourself that staying in a job is a choice, despite its drawbacks, and theres power in that, too.

Ironically, it wasnt Alysons stroke that allowed her to reflect on what work was doing to her. The law firm let her go an unwanted but exceptional event that gave her time to examine how work played a role in her stroke and what kind of job might help her avoid that kind of stress in the future. After an extensive rehabilitation, shes able to walk again, is self-employed with her own law practice and bakes gluten-free breads to sell around town in her spare time.

Dont wait to awake paralyzed before reevaluating what your job is costing you. You are the architect of your career and your life. Own it.

Stress Cortisol And The Immune System: What Makes Us Get Sick

by Alvin Lim

The Case of the Poor Student: Sick after ExamsIts happened to all of us. Tom was staying up late for the last two weeks cramming for his barrage of final exams, and finally his last exam was over. After one more late nightthis time partyinghe woke up with that all-too-familiar soreness in his throat, along with that annoying stuffy nose. Great, he thought. Im sick in time just for Christmas shopping. Must be that pesky cold bug going around again.

What is Psychoneuroimmunology?Just how exactly stress affects our immune system has long been debated, but the field of psychoneuroimmunology is still relatively new. Coming from the Latin roots psych- , neur- , and immuno- , psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how the mind can affect immune system functioning. Drawing upon many disciplines of science including immunology, psychology, and physiology, psychoneuroimmunology is a very integrative field with scientists studying a wide variety of things. Although many discoveries have been made, not many people are aware of just how significant they are. In order to understand just how stress can affect our immune system, you must first understand how the immune system responds under normal circumstances to invading pathogens.

ReferencesAnisman, H., Griffiths, J., Matheson, K., Ravindran, A., & Merali, Z. Posttraumatic stress symptoms and salivary cortisol levels. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2001. 158, 15091511.

What Are The Symptoms Of Stress

Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviors, thinking ability, and physical health. No part of the body is immune. But, because people handle stress differently, symptoms of stress can vary. Symptoms can be vague and may be the same as those caused by medical conditions. So it is important to discuss them with your doctor. You may experience any of the following symptoms of stress.

Emotional symptoms of stress include:

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
  • Feeling bad about yourself , lonely, worthless, and depressed
  • Avoiding others

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Low energy

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Youre Putting On Weight

Long-term stress can cause a prolonged uptick in your bodys levels of hunger-producing hormones called glucocorticoids, according to a 2014 study in Frontiers in Psychology. When those hormones are elevated, so is your desire to eat, and out-of-control weight gain and obesity are sometimes the result. Stress also seems to promote cravings for high-calorie foodsfries and desserts, not saladswhich makes matters worse, the study authors say.

Can My Doctor Help

Can Stress Make You Sick? 8 Scary Stress Symptoms

You can speak to your GP if you are struggling to cope with stress. Struggling to cope with stress may include the following.

  • You are struggling to do everyday things.
  • You have stopped looking after yourself.
  • You are taking more time of work.
  • You have thought that life is not worth living.
  • You are using drugs or alcohol to cope with how you feel.
  • You have felt very low or hopeless for 2 weeks or more.
  • You no longer enjoy anything.
  • You are having panic attacks.

It may help you to write down a list of the main points and questions that you want to discuss with your GP. This can be helpful if you are feeling anxious or worried.

If you have kept a stress diary you could take this with you. See the previous section for more information about a stress diary.

Your GP could offer:

  • support groups in your area.

You can find more information about:

  • GPs- what to expect from your doctor by clicking here.
  • Talking therapies by clicking here.

Recommended Reading: What Are The Signs Of Stress

Youre Having Trouble Thinking Clearly

If youve been having a tough time concentrating on one task at a time, remembering things accurately, or just generally operating on a higher level, stress could be to blame.

This mental fatigue sometimes happens when small stressors pile in at a volume we cant keep up with. Things like making multiple tough decisions at work, handling ongoing interruptions, and juggling social commitments all these can accumulate and start to weigh on you. If you don’t have a chance to hit the pause button and reset, brain fog could set in.

The unfortunate reality of this mental fatigue is that it can affect your physical energy levels, too. If youve spent the whole day feeling exhausted just doing the tasks you normally knock out in one afternoon, your body will feel tuckered out as well. For some, this perpetuates the stress cycle no energy for stress-busting outlets like meditation, creative endeavors, or exercise means nowhere to release that stress, and it remains a looming burden.

Alcohol Caffeine Drugs Or Medications

Alcohol, caffeine, recreational drugs, and many prescription medications are known to interfere with sleep, which can lead to a general feeling of being unwell.

An overuse, or long-term use, of chemicals that act as stimulants or depressants, can cause certain mental and physical changes.


A person should avoid drinks, foods, and drugs with these chemicals in them, especially in the evening or before bedtime. It is important to remember that caffeine and sugar can have a strong effect on how a person feels.

When someoneâs symptoms are caused by prescription medication, they should speak to their doctor to find an alternative.

Also Check: How To Prevent Hair Loss Due To Stress

You Feel Tightness In Your Chest For No Apparent Reason

Feeling any abnormality in your chest will probably be a red flag for you. Sometimes, though, the pressure creeps in slowly. It might seem normal after a while.

What youll recognize is a tightness in your chest. Its not uncommon to experience shortness of breath and intense pressure on your chest like an elephant is sitting on it.

Youre Short Of Breath

Can Stress Cause a Fever? | How Chronic Stress Can Make You Sick | #DeepDives | Health

Your blood circulates oxygen around your body. When your stress response boosts how quickly youre sending blood around your bodythanks to your heart racingyour breathing might increase to provide you with more oxygen.

If you breathe too quickly , you can actually enhance a lot of the physical anxiety symptoms on this list because your oxygencarbon dioxide balance gets out of whack, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Thats why we often talk about belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, says Dr. Potter. This is essentially breathing slowly and deeply by really using your diaphragm. By slowing down how quickly youre breathing, you have more of a chance to get the oxygen you need, Dr. Potter explains.

Read Also: How To Manage Anger And Stress

What Causes Nausea With Anxiety

Anxiety can trigger your fight or flight response. Basically, your body is preparing you to face a crisis. This is a natural reaction to a stressful situation and, when called for, can help you survive.

When you feel stressed or anxious, your body releases a rush of hormones. Neurotransmitters in the brain react by sending messages to the rest of your body to:

  • get the heart pumping faster
  • increase the breathing rate
  • tense the muscles
  • send more blood to the brain

Anxiety and stress can affect virtually every body system. This includes your cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, and respiratory systems.

In the digestive system, stress can cause:

  • nausea, vomiting

The symptoms you feel due to anxiety are very real. Your body is responding to a perceived threat. Absent a true emergency situation, there are some things you can do help to control anxiety and nausea.

How To Control Your Anxiety Upset Stomach

Stomach upset can really put a damper on your ability to live a happy life. Ideally, you’ll need to treat your anxiety to experience a calmer stomach.

Even though anxiety is causing your stomach to feel sick, many of the symptoms can be reduced with various medications. You should always consult with a doctor before taking medication and do not want to rely on medication to cure your upset stomach. However, many people have had success with basic medications that calm the stomach. Common examples include:

  • Tums
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Rolaids

Eating healthier can also help. Remember that your anxiety is affecting your gut, but it’s not causing the symptoms all on its own. What’s in your stomach has an effect on the severity of the symptoms as well. Eating healthier – especially on days you expect to experience anxiety – can be very helpful. Drinking water may also be useful since water is gentle on the stomach.

You may also try distracting yourself. While your upset stomach may be severe, anxiety causes a tendency to focus on the experience, which causes further anxiety and exacerbates the severity of the stomach pain. A positive distraction, like a funny TV show, can actually make a big difference in the way you experience your upset stomach.

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Back Neck And Shoulder Pain

That achy feeling in your upper body that comes on when youre totally overwhelmed? Its a common, but definitely not fun, part of chronic stress.

Stress is a signal to your body that youre in danger . One of the ways your body responds is by tensing up your muscles, which can help protect them against injury.

The tension should ease up as you calm down. But if youre constantly in a state of overwhelm, your muscles stay tight and never get a chance to relax. And that can lead to pain and aches in your back, shoulders, and neck.

How To Start Easing Stress Today

Can Stress Make You Sick? 8 Scary Stress Symptoms

If stress is taking its toll on your body, there’s a lot you can do about it. For starters, try these 23 doctor-approved stress management tips, and consider walking more, doing yoga , or taking up another form of exercise that helps you unwind. Even if you’re short on time, it’s simple to fit in these one-minute stress relief techniques. For extra help, consider seeking out a therapist who can set you on a path towards peace of mind.

Also Check: Where Can You Get Stress Balls

Your Glands Feel Swollen As If Youre Getting A Virus

You have glands at different locations in your body. The most common glands to feel as though theyre swelling are the ones in your throat. You might also feel like you have a frog in your throat or experience a clogged sensation.Its not that your glands are actually swelling up as a result of a virus or other illness. This is the way your body responds to over-sensitization.

Cortisol The Cause Of Many Diseases

Cortisol is a hormone in the thyroid gland produced by the adrenal gland. It is released when we are stressed. When released over a long period of time, it is dangerous to our health. Cortisol helps to release glucose into the bloodstream. Thus, it sends a lot of energy to the muscles. The goal is to give us enough energy to handle emergencies.

When stress disappears after a normal period of time, the body resets its hormone level to a normal level. When the situation lasts for a long period of time, critical symptoms occur, such as:

  • Changes in mood .
  • Hypertension.
  • Memory loss.
  • Weakened function of the immune system.

All of these symptoms, which are produced by cortisol, can become morbid over time. Cortisol has been linked to diseases such as hyperthyroidism, cardiovascular disease , skin infections and digestive problems .

Recommended Reading: How Do You Reduce Anxiety And Stress

Your Blood Pressure Is Too High

As youve probably heard, stress is closely tied to your bodys fight-or-flight instincts, which developed to help humans avoid or fend off predators. To help you survive a life-and-death situation, stress fires up your sympathetic nervous system, which in turn cranks up your blood pressure so that your limbs and muscles are ready for action. None of that is an issue in the short term. But over time, chronically elevated BP can overwork your heart, leading to damaged arteries and blockages, finds a review study from the University of Miami.

Heart Palpitations And Trouble Breathing

Can Stress Make You Sick?

Stress can get your heart pounding, sometimes to the point where it becomes painful and legit scary.

Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline have a near-instant effect on your cardiovascular system. As a result, your heart rate spikes, your blood pressure goes up, and your breathing gets faster.

And it can sometimes lead to a vicious cycle. A rapid heartbeat and fast, shallow breathing can make you nervous or scared, which can cause your pulse and breathing rate to increase even more and actually make you feel breathless.

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In The Meantime Heres How To Deal

Though professional help is the most effective way to treat physical symptoms of anxiety, therapy and/or medication arent always accessible. In that case, it might be helpful to know some of the common ways people with anxiety practice self-care and help themselves feel better. Like we mentioned earlier, deep breathing is a big one for anxiety symptoms, since hyperventilation can exacerbate many of the symptoms on this list.

Beyond that, our Anxiety Center is full of helpful, expert-recommended tips to make living with anxiety a little easier. Here are a few specific articles to get you started:

Tips To Manage Stress

Although stress affects everyone, it doesnt affect everyone in the same way. Some people are able to cope with and recover from stress quickly, while others may find it difficult to do so, especially if their stress is in response to a traumatic event. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of stress having a negative effect on your health.

Exercise regularly

Multiple studies have shown that exercise can help reduce stress and depression, as well as improve cognitive function. As the Anxiety & Depression Association of America states, exercise and physical activity produce endorphins, which are chemicals that act as natural painkillers and can reduce stress. Acupuncture, deep breathing, massage and meditation can help your body produce endorphins.

Set goals

One way to manage stress is to set goals and priorities. You may feel stressed because you have a lot of different tasks that need to be completed, but deciding which tasks need your immediate attention can help you reduce stress. If you have too much on your plate, consider saying no to additional work or requests so you can avoid adding negative stress to your situation. Setting goals can also help you feel in control and optimistic, even when the work ahead of you seems challenging.

Change your self-talk

  • I hate it when this happens can become I know how to deal with this Ive done it before.
  • I feel helpless and alone can become I can reach out and get help if I need it.

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Temporarily Relief For The Sick Feeling

Most over the counter medicines that calm the stomach can be mildly effective at relieving most of the sick feeling. Even though the nausea is caused by anxiety, some of the symptoms can be relieved with medicines.

For issues like swollen glands, treating them can be a bit more complicated. That’s because your glands aren’t always swollen, and if they are it is not usually that severe. Yet focusing on that part of the body can make us hyper sensitive to physical changes, and they feel more distressing. Your body is so attuned to the way you feel that it starts to believe that it feels significant issues, out of proportion with the reality.

The only way to reduce that is to reduce your anxiety and to do that you need to start to understand your anxiety better. Explore our website for more information, or speak to a specialist to begin treatment.


Anxiety can cause problems with the gut, and can lead to adrenaline related changes to the stomach, all of which can cause feelings of illness. Chronic anxiety may also have other complications. No matter the cause, anxiety reduction is the only effective long term solution to eliminate these feelings.

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Nausea Heartburn Indigestion Upset Stomach Diarrhea

Can Stress Make You Sick? Fever, Hemorrhoids, and More

Can stress make you nauseous? You bet and thats not all. It can also cause bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and even vomiting. Fun, right?

The stress hormones that activate your fight or flight response can cause muscle spasms in your GI tract, which can leave you feeling queasy or send you running to the bathroom. They can also slow the rate at which food is digested, which can cause uncomfortable gas to build up and make it harder to poop.

And while youre dealing with your stressed-out bowels, its possible to also develop dun, dun, dun hemorrhoids. These painful bumps, also called piles, are caused by swollen veins in or near the anus and lower rectum.

Read Also: How To Prevent Hair Loss From Stress

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