Tuesday, October 4, 2022

How Does Stress And Anxiety Affect Your Body

How Stimulants Like Caffeine And Nicotine Affect Your Digestion

How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

If youre dealing with anxiety, stress, and indigestion and you regularly consume caffeine and/or nicotine, then listen up. These stimulants tax the stress response axis, which can add to your bodys stress load. Also, they change your guts movements and may worsen stress-related digestion for some people.

Both coffee and nicotine stimulate the stomach to empty its content into the intestine, sometimes prematurely. If the stomach empties its highly acidic content into the small intestine before finishing its job, it will expose the small intestine to acidity and partially digest food. This can be a big problem.

While coffee or cigarette after a meal can relieve bloating or feelings of fullness, this sets us up for long-term issues if continued.Thestomach contents are supposed to be more broken down and the pH higher closer to neutral before entering the small intestine. When we trigger stomach emptying prematurely, that doesnt happen which then irritates the sensitive lining of the small intestine.

In my personal experience and clinical practice, Ive found coffee and cigarettes to be quite detrimental for those suffering from chronic stress or digestive issues. Some people find that coffee and tea trigger their acid reflux, while others dont. Coffee on an empty stomach can stimulate acid secretion, which can irritate the stomach lining, especially without food. People with pre-existing stress-related digestive issues also tend to find that coffee makes them worse.

Finding Your Path To A Less Stressed Life

Sadly, theres no magic stress solution that works for everyone. You might have to explore several different stress management tools and techniques before you find what works best for you. Dr. Howitt suggests taking it one small, manageable step at a time. Set achievable goals, she explains. Small changes can make a meaningful difference in how you experience stress both mentally and physically.

Practicing self-care is always a good idea, but some people need more support. If something still doesnt feel right or you have questions about how to manage stress in positive ways talk to your doctor.

1 Kathrin Wunsch et al., Habitual and Acute Exercise Effects on Salivary Biomarkers in Response to Psychosocial Stress, Psychoneuroendocrinology, August 2019.

2 MaryCarol R. Hunter et al., Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers, Frontiers in Psychology, April 4, 2019.

3 Madhav Goyal et al., Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, JAMA Internal Medicine, March 2014.

4 Brian Chin et al., Psychological Mechanisms Driving Stress Resilience in Mindfulness Training: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Health Psychology, August 2019.

5 Getting Creative Really Does Boost Your Mood, Survey Suggests, BBC News, May 8, 2019.

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Can Blood Sugar Levels Cause Anxiety And Depression

But what about the opposite? Can blood sugar levels actually change your mood, making you more depressed or agitated?

Yes, they can.

First, its important to realize that blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day. This is considered normal.

However, when these fluctuations venture beyond healthy levels, problems can occur.

For example, those with low blood sugar can experience nervousness or anxiety along with irritability or impatience. Other symptoms of low blood sugar can include:

  • Difficulty with coordination

Low blood sugar can cause complications, so its important to discuss any issues with low blood sugar with your internal medicine doctor in Raleigh.

Read Also: Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Dizziness

Too Much Alcohol And Drugs

Too much consumption of alcohol and drugs or withdrawal from them can also lead to anxiety and stress.

Anxiety attacks happen due to medical causes too. Patients with an underlying cause of medical conditions can experience anxiety. Your doctor can diagnose if your anxiety has a medical cause by doing the necessary tests. Some of the medical problems connected with anxiety are:

  • Drug Abuse or Drug Withdrawal

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Respiratory Disorders

  • The best way to deal with psychogenic fevers and anxiety-related problems is by seeking medical expertise or engaging in relaxation techniques like meditation, walking, exercise, yoga, etc. There are many ways to treat anxiety without medication, and some of the most common ones are:

    Q: How Does Stress Affect The Heart

    A Life without Anorexia: stress less

    In the movies, people under intense stress dramatically keel over from a heart attack, but thats extremely rare. The real danger is the accumulated impact of chronic stress, which contributes to each of the top five risk factors for developing heart disease: abnormal cholesterol levels, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.

    Recommended Reading: How Does Mindfulness Reduce Stress

    Your Sleep Is All Screwed Up

    A person with anxiety might have a tough time falling asleep and/or staying asleep, or might have restless and unsatisfying sleep, according to the NIMH. Elevated levels of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline make it hard to get a good nights sleep, since your buzzing body may not be able to relax enough to rest. The racing thoughts that can come with anxiety are no recipe for great sleep, either.

    Its not just that anxiety contributes to sleep problems. Sleep issues such as insomnia can make you more prone to anxiety too, the Mayo Clinic explains. What a great cycle.

    Practice Mindfulness To Promote A Feeling Of Calm

    Whether you choose deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga, mindfulness techniques are designed to help you reduce stress.

    A short-term randomized controlled trial of 60 people with type 2 diabetes found that those who used mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques saw improved fasting blood sugar and A1C and lower levels of anxiety and depression. Researchers published those results in 2018 in the Journal of Diabetes Research.

    Explore a variety of relaxation techniques, Belfort De Aguiar suggests, to find one that works for you. If you have trouble winding down, apps such as Headspace and Calm are popular, budget-friendly options for learning how to practice mindfulness.

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    How Can Severe Anxiety Affect And Bring Changes In Your Body

    Mohnish Jha

    Anxiety is one of the most common conditions that we all face multiple times in our lives. On minimal levels, anxiety and stress are considered good and beneficial for ones life and body. This positive anxiety is called Eustress, it helps individuals to perform better, live life enthusiastically, etc. But what about severe anxiety? What if it lasts for longer abnormally periods of time? Many researches have concluded that not only changes in behavior but chronic anxiety and stress can also bring a lot of changes in the physical body of a person.

    So how does it affect your body?

    How Anxiety Can Cause Joint And Muscle Pain

    How Stress Affects Your Body and Mind

    Put simply, anxiety is the bodys natural response to stress. Most everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but some individuals experience excessive amounts of anxiety, which can be due to an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder, affecting 40 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

    • Excessive worrying
    • Tendency to avoid social situations
    • Irrational fears
    • Tense muscles and joint and muscle pain

    When an individual experiences anxiety or long-term stress, the body continually produces cytokine molecules. Cytokines are a type of signaling molecules that mediate and regulate immunity, inflammation, and hematopoiesis. Cytokines affect the growth of all blood cells that help the bodys immune and inflammation response. One of the main reasons that anxiety can cause joint and muscle pain is because too many of these molecules cause inflammation to the joints and more pain when performing normal body movements. Anxiety also worsens long-term stress and causes the brain to release excessive amounts of adrenaline from the fight or flight system. Over time, surges of adrenaline can damage the blood vessels, increase blood pressure, cause anxiety, weight gain, headaches, and insomnia, and even increase risks of heart attacks and stroke.

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    Stress And Your Stomach

    Stress affects your digestive system in several ways. Almost everyone has felt “butterflies” in their stomach at the approach of a big test or an important meeting. If you experience more intense stress, though, those butterflies can transform into nausea or even vomiting. Very intense physiological stress, like the kind seen in cases of serious illness, can also cause stomach ulcers.

    The stomach isn’t the only place along your digestive tract harmed by stress. Stress can also lead you to eat more and to eat poorly. This can cause heartburn, especially if you eat more fatty foods than normal, as well as acid reflux. These conditions are mostly felt inside your esophagus, which is more sensitive than your stomach. Stress can make the pain from these conditions worse as well.

    Energy Levels And Sleep

    If our bodies are on high alert for long periods of time it can deplete energy resources within the body. So it comes as no surprise that high levels of anxiety can leave us feeling both emotionally and physically drained. Exhaustion caused by anxiety can happen for a number of reasons:

    We run out of adrenalineAdrenaline released as a result of anxiety puts us in a state of high alert, but when your adrenaline runs out your body experiences an extreme dip in energy levels causing tiredness and fatigue.

    Mental tirednessLike your physical body and your adrenaline levels, your brain can also run out of energy this is simply because your brain is not meant to function at this extreme intensity for prolonged periods of time.

    Physical exhaustionWhen we are worried and anxious we often tense up our muscles as a protective mechanism. However, over a long period of time, physically holding on to all of this tension is exhausting and not only leaves us feeling physically sore, but makes us feel drained as well.

    As a coping mechanismYour body sometimes uses tiredness as a way to switch off from severe stress. Tiredness allows you to rest when stress wont so, when your body needs to shut down and recover, it can often make us feel tired on purpose if we arent getting the break from stress that we need.

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    What Does Stress Do To Our Body

    Mar 24, 2020 | Health

    This article is part 1 of a mini-series focusing on how the body reacts to stressors. This installment looks at the physiological reaction to stress and how this can impact a persons overall health.

    Have you ever thought about what stress could do to your body? You may think of stress abstractly as the increased pressure you feel before an upcoming deadline, but stress is an actual biological response that can turn dangerous when it becomes chronic.

    Take the example of Broken Heart Syndrome, or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, where part of the left side of the heart becomes dysfunctional following an incredibly stressful event such as the death of a loved one. This condition can bring about symptoms like mimicking those of a heart attack, eventually requiring treatment with a variety of medications.

    Whilean extreme case, Broken Heart Syndrome highlights the importance ofunderstanding what happens to the human body when it is heavily exposed to stressors.Today, I will show in detail what stress actually looks like inside your body.

    Cortisol And Weight Gain


    Chronic stress can add pounds as well as worries. The chemical cortisol is released during times of stress and is responsible for some of the physical changes stress can bring on, and some of these are unwanted, especially when stress lingers for weeks or months.

    Cortisol puts a high demand on your body’s resources. You need this in the face of danger. But in the modern world stress is more likely to be caused by money problems than dangerous animals. This causes problems that can lead to unwelcome weight gain.

    Since cortisol taxes your body’s energy stores, it also makes you hungry–especially for sugary and fatty foods that give you a quick burst of energy. If your stress isn’t prompting physical exercise in response, you’re likely to gain weight. What’s more, cortisol encourages your body to store excess energy as fat.

    How much cortisol causes weight gain likely varies from person to person. Tests on sheep show that some are more responsive to cortisol than others. These high-cortisol responders eat more than other sheep when stressed and also gain more weight. Some researchers think this could help identify people who are prone to stress-related obesity.

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    Ways How Stress Affects Your Body

    Effects of stress on the body are a natural physical and emotional response to bad and sometimes even good life experiences. Stress is usually triggered by everyday activities and responsibilities. Whether it is a short-term irritation such as a traffic jam or long-term grief like the loss of a loved one, stress affects your body in ways you cant imagine.

    Stress is very personal. Up to 80% of all doctors office visits are for stress-related ailments and problems & forty percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.

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    Make Time For Hobbies

    When work and other responsibilities like family become too much, stress can creep in without you even realizing it. Thats why making time in your busy schedule is essential to enjoy hobbies. Whether that means catching the latest movie with your spouse, reading a book, or listening to music, making time for hobbies will help you unwind.

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    What Is Chronic Stress

    So, what is stress? Its a physical or emotional tension that causes you to feel nervous, angry, or frustrated. Its the bodys way of reacting to challenges or demands. Short bursts can positively impact you, helping you avoid danger or meet deadlines. Chronic stress occurs when these short bursts of stress occur for a long time. There are two types of stressacute stress and chronic stress.

    Acute stress is short-term stress that usually goes away quickly. Its the stress you feel in certain situations, like fighting with your partner, slamming the brakes suddenly, or plummeting down when skydiving. Acute stress helps you avoid or control dangerous situations.

    Everyone experiences acute stress when they do something new or exciting. Chronic stress, however, lasts much longer. It usually goes on for weeks or even months. It can occur when you are in an unhappy relationship or have money or work troubles. Most people dont even realize theyre experiencing chronic stress. In most cases, they will try to cure the physical symptoms, like migraines.

    Can Herbal Remedies Help

    How stress affects your brain – Madhumita Murgia

    There are a number of ways you can help to reduce your anxiety levels, these can include lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, but herbal remedies can give you a helping hand too. The tops of the green plant Avena sativa are harvested before ripening to produce grain. This part of the herb contains many nutritional benefits and has been used as a calming solution since the 12th century.

    Avena sativa contains polyphenols, including avenanthramides that have antioxidative properties. Oxidative stress plays a key factor in the development of stress and anxiety as it is thought to change the way that messages are sent along neural pathways and interfere with general brain activity. The natural antioxidants present in the herb Avena sativa counteract this oxidative stress.

    We are all exposed to anxiety and worry from time to time and when I feel like this I always reach for my AvenaCalm remedy. This gentle remedy contains organically sourced Avena sativa and works to provide relief from mild stress and anxiety by its natural properties.

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    Q: How Does Stress Affect The Brain

    Chronic stress can make your brain behave in an Alzheimers-like manner. Stress adversely affects a key structure in the brain, the hippocampus, leading to impaired memory and problems with orientation and sense of direction.

    These brain changes may have evolved to protect against the memory of traumatic and stressful events, like being attacked by a predator but short-term memory loss hinders todays brain-intensive lifestyle. We all know the frustration of forgetting where we put our keys, names of people we just met or other recent events.

    Major Anxiety Disorders Include:

    • Generalised Anxiety Disorder , is when you get anxious about most every day situations and are unable to remember the last time you were in a relaxed mental state. This state of anxiety is caused by an imbalance in the brain chemicals that are involved in the regulation of a persons moods, serotonin, and noradrenaline a combination of past trauma such as violence, abuse, or bullying chronic pain condition or hereditary factors, among others.
    • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can cause a person to have obsessive, intrusive thoughts that can be distressing or an overwhelming desire or compulsion to perform a routine repeatedly. This could be reflected in his or her habits, be it cleaning or washing hands unnecessarily, arranging items in a drawer in a certain way, folding away clothes, etc.
    • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder , caused after a particularly stressful period such as being in a war zone, surviving an attack or a tragic accident, or incident due to a natural disaster, and so on.
    • Phobias, experienced due to an excessive and irrational fear of a creature, place or event, such as bees, spiders, heights, the dark, tight spaces, fire, and so on.
    • Panic Attacks, cause irrational and heightened anxiety periods accompanied by physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, cold hands and feet, inability to breathe or hyperventilate, etc.

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    Is It Stress Or Anxiety

    Life can be stressfulyou may feel stressed about performance at school, traumatic events , or a life change. Everyone feels stress from time to time.

    What is stress? Stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause, such as having a lot of homework or having an illness. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time.

    What is anxiety? Anxiety is your body’s reaction to stress and can occur even if there is no current threat.

    If that anxiety doesnt go away and begins to interfere with your life, it could affect your health. You could experience problems with sleeping, or with your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. You also may be at higher risk for developing a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or depression. Read more about anxiety disorders.

    So, how do you know when to seek help?

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