Friday, March 24, 2023

What Are The Physical Effects Of Stress

Excretory And Digestive Systems

How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

Anxiety also affects your excretory and digestive systems. You may have stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Loss of appetite can also occur.

There may be a connection between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome after a bowel infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

How Therapy Can Help

As you can see, emotional strain affects more than just your mental state. The physical consequences of stress are just as severe and can greatly impact your quality of life or even lead to other health-related issues.

A therapist can help you cope with the effects of stress in your life and identify ways to reduce the sources of stress of stress where possible. Sometimes this involves finding new solutions to old problems, looking at situations differently, or processing your emotions. In other cases, this might involve healing deeper anxieties and fears stemming from past trauma. Find out more about our stress management counseling services.

If youre overwhelmed with stress and its starting to affect your physical health, feel free to contact us. Together, we can talk more about the underlying cause of that stress and work on ways to safely and effectively manage it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with stress, help is available. Contact one of our Counselors. Our therapists can help you or your loved one cope and minimize the physical effects of stress.

To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. We offer therapy in Houston, TX or online counseling in Texas, Indiana and Alabama. We look forward to help you!

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Emotional Effects Of Stress

Either directly or indirectly, stress imposes unwanted emotional symptoms. The mental effects of stress can create new psychological symptoms, or they can make preexisting symptoms much worse.

When people have high stress, they tend to funnel these feelings toward either sadness or worry. The emotional effects of stress will eventually grow into a full depressive or anxiety disorder unless the person seeks assistance and takes action.

With depression, a person can experience intense sadness that continues for most of the day. Their mood may be low and easily triggered, so even a TV commercial could elicit a tearful response.

With anxiety, the person will worry excessively about the people and situations in their life. In some cases, the worry will grow into extreme forms of anxiety, such as panic attacks or phobias.

Anxiety and depression are linked to high stress, but people who experience regular stress can also feel many other mental health effects, like:

  • Anger and irritability: These people may develop anger problems or build resent towards self or others
  • Restlessness: High stress can make someone feel uncomfortable in their own skin or impatient
  • Poor focus: Mental health issues like depression, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder all involve poor attention, which can also result from stress

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It Limits The Flow Of Blood To The Heart

Your heart is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to all other parts of your body, making it arguably one of the most important organs that you have. And if you want to protect that precious organ at all costs, then you’ll want to stop stressing out about life’s little things. According to one study published in the journal Circulation, chronic life stress can cause myocardial ischemia, in which blood flow to the heart is reduced as a result of blocked arteries and your chances of having a heart attack are significantly increased.

It Makes You More Prone To Injuries

Physical Effects of Anxiety

If you play an organized sport that relies on teamwork and cooperation, then the ongoing health of your muscles and bones relies on overcoming your anxiety. When Norwegian researchers followed a team of female soccer players over the course of a season, they found that perceived stress due to teammates and coaches was associated with greater risk of both acute injuries and overuse injuries.

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It Causes High Blood Pressure

Surprisingly enough, psychological stress is more harmful to your heart in the longterm than physical stress alone. When researchers from the University of California at Irvine exposed students to either emotional or physical stress, they found that those who were stressed out emotionally had significantly higher systolic blood pressures. And not only did the stressful event itself cause a spike in blood pressure, recalling the stressful situation later triggered a physical reaction, as well.

Lack Of Appetite Sexual Desire & Insomnia

Since stressors overwhelm our emotions and body, you can count on them to affect eating habits, libido, and the amount of sleep our body gets. With your mind moving at rapid rates, worrying about the next task to complete or the emotional impact of a certain event, it is normal to skip a meal or two, refuse intimacy, and struggle to fall or stay asleep.

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How Professional Treatment Helps Most People With Anxiety Disorders

In general, stress is a response to a difficult or alarming situation, whereas anxiety tends to be excessive and may be triggered by events that havent happened. Often, people with anxiety disorders begin to avoid situations that make them fearful, or they may develop panic attacks.

People who struggle with anxiety have a tendency to ruminate or worry excessively about things, accompanied by physical sensations like butterflies in the stomach or heart palpitations, says Dr. Dossett. Of course, these things can happen with stress, too, which is why its important to see a doctor if symptoms persist.

Not All Stress Is Bad

The Physical Effects of Stress on the Body Pt.2 – Hormones

In a dangerous situation, stress signals the body to prepare to face a threat or flee to safety. In these situations, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, and your brain uses more oxygen and increases activityall functions aimed at survival and in response to stress. In non-life-threatening situations, stress can motivate people, such as when they need to take a test or interview for a new job.

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The Most Common Emotional And Cognitive Symptoms Of Short

When youre under a lot of stress, you may find that youre more emotional than usual or crankier. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Anxiety or nervousness in the American Psychological Associations 2017 Stress in America survey, 36 percent of people report that stress makes them feel more nervous or anxious.
  • Anger or irritability in the APA survey, 35 percent of people report this.
  • Difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness

Inflammation The Immune System And Physical Health

Despite the stress-mediated immunosuppressive effects reviewed above, stress has also been associated with exacerbations of autoimmune disease and other conditions in which excessive inflammation is a central feature, such as CHD . Evidence suggests that a chronically activated, dysregulated acute stress response is responsible for these associations. Recall that the acute stress response includes the activation and migration of cells of the innate immune system. This effect is mediated by proinflammatory cytokines. During periods of chronic stress, in the otherwise healthy individual, cortisol eventually suppresses proinflammatory cytokine production. But in individuals with autoimmune disease or CHD, prolonged stress can cause proinflammatory cytokine production to remain chronically activated, leading to an exacerbation of pathophysiology and symptomatology.

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What Are The Signs Of Stress

How you might feel

You may behave differently if youre stressed. You may:

  • withdraw from other people or snap at them
  • be indecisive or inflexible
  • have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep
  • experience sexual problems
  • smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs more than usual.

If the stress is long-lasting, you may notice your sleep and memory are affected, your eating habits change, or you feel less inclined to exercise.

Some research has also linked long-term stress to gastrointestinal conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or stomach ulcers, as well as conditions like cardiovascular disease.

Techniques To Counter Chronic Stress

Signs Youre Suffering from Physical Symptoms of Stress ...

Many people are unable to find a way to put the brakes on stress. Chronic low-level stress keeps the HPA axis activated, much like a motor that is idling too high for too long. After a while, this has an effect on the body that contributes to the health problems associated with chronic stress.

Persistent epinephrine surges can damage blood vessels and arteries, increasing blood pressure and raising risk of heart attacks or strokes. Elevated cortisol levels create physiological changes that help to replenish the body’s energy stores that are depleted during the stress response. But they inadvertently contribute to the buildup of fat tissue and to weight gain. For example, cortisol increases appetite, so that people will want to eat more to obtain extra energy. It also increases storage of unused nutrients as fat.

Fortunately, people can learn techniques to counter the stress response.

Relaxation response. Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, has devoted much of his career to learning how people can counter the stress response by using a combination of approaches that elicit the relaxation response. These include deep abdominal breathing, focus on a soothing word , visualization of tranquil scenes, repetitive prayer, yoga, and tai chi.

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How Does Stress Affect Pregnancy

It is normal to feel stressed during pregnancy. Your body and your hormones are changing, and you may worry about your baby and the changes he or she will bring to your life. But too much stress during pregnancy can hurt you and your babys health.

Stress during pregnancy can make normal pregnancy discomforts, like trouble sleeping and body aches, even worse. It can also lead to more serious problems, such as:

  • Depression. Depression during pregnancy or after birth can affect your babys development. .
  • Problems eating . Women who are or who gain too much weight during pregnancy are at risk for , including premature delivery and . Get a personalized recommendation on how much weight to gain during pregnancy.
  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure during pregnancy puts you at risk of a serious condition called , premature delivery, and having a low-birth-weight infant .

Talk to your doctor about your stress, and to help manage your stress. Learn about too.

The Importance Of Exercise For A Healthy Heart

Despite its name, a stress test isnt about stress in the usual sense of the word, though the symptoms that lead to having a stress test might be caused by anxiety. In general, we give patients a stress test when they have risk factors for or symptoms that may indicate heart disease, says Haythe.

A stress test is an imaging study that measures what happens to the heart when the person is put under physical stress, typically when theyre walking on a treadmill whose incline becomes very steep, very quickly. The test puts the heart in a situation where it has a greater demand for oxygen, and heart rate and blood pressure all increase. Thats when we can see if theres an obstruction of blood flow in the arteries that may require cardiac catheterization or another intervention, says Haythe.

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What Are Some Ways To Prevent Stress

Many daily strategies can help you keep stress at bay:

  • Try relaxation activities, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. Programs are available online, in smartphone apps, and at many gyms and community centers.
  • Take good care of your body each day. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep help your body handle stress much better.
  • Stay positive and practice gratitude, acknowledging the good parts of your day or life.
  • Accept that you cant control everything. Find ways to let go of worry about situations you cannot change.
  • Learn to say no to additional responsibilities when you are too busy or stressed.
  • Stay connected with people who keep you calm, make you happy, provide emotional support and help you with practical things. A friend, family member or neighbor can become a good listener or share responsibilities so that stress doesnt become overwhelming.

Physical Effects Of Stress

Stress awareness month Physical effects of stress

When a person is stressed, a physical reaction is triggered. The bodys natural response to stress is a release of chemicals designed to protect. This infusion of stress hormones prepares a person to fight or flee the stressful circumstance. Stress responses are natural and help a person rise to a challenge by enhancing focus, alertness, and energy level.

When you arent able to let go, relax and unwind, the effects of stress can be harmful. Chronic exposure to stress can lead to a variety of physical stress-related symptoms and illnesses.

When a childs brain is exposed to heightened levels of stress, the developing brain itself can be altered and damaged by the stress hormones. This natural reaction of the body can result in a lifetime of emotional and behavioral problems. These are often associated with improper development of brain structures like the hippocampus, thalamus, and amygdala.

Here, we explore the physical effects of stress in adults:

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What Are The Physical Effects Of Stress


Stressors During Childhood And Adolescence And Their Psychological Sequelae

The most widely studied stressors in children and adolescents are exposure to violence, abuse , and divorce/marital conflict . also provide an excellent review of the psychological consequences of such stressors. Psychological effects of maltreatment/abuse include the dysregulation of affect, provocative behaviors, the avoidance of intimacy, and disturbances in attachment . Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have higher levels of both general distress and major psychological disturbances including personality disorders . Childhood abuse is also associated with negative views toward learning and poor school performance . Children of divorced parents have more reported antisocial behavior, anxiety, and depression than their peers . Adult offspring of divorced parents report more current life stress, family conflict, and lack of friend support compared with those whose parents did not divorce . Exposure to nonresponsive environments has also been described as a stressor leading to learned helplessness .

Exposure to intense and chronic stressors during the developmental years has long-lasting neurobiological effects and puts one at increased risk for anxiety and mood disorders, aggressive dyscontrol problems, hypo-immune dysfunction, medical morbidity, structural changes in the CNS, and early death .

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Chronic Activation Of This Survival Mechanism Impairs Health

A stressful situation whether something environmental, such as a looming work deadline, or psychological, such as persistent worry about losing a job can trigger a cascade of stress hormones that produce well-orchestrated physiological changes. A stressful incident can make the heart pound and breathing quicken. Muscles tense and beads of sweat appear.

This combination of reactions to stress is also known as the “fight-or-flight” response because it evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people and other mammals to react quickly to life-threatening situations. The carefully orchestrated yet near-instantaneous sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses helps someone to fight the threat off or flee to safety. Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to stressors that are not life-threatening, such as traffic jams, work pressure, and family difficulties.

What Can You Do About It

Stress: What it Does to Your Body

Learning about the effects of stress on the body and how to manage stress will help you to feel happier and healthier in the long run. Coping with stress is about trying to solve the problems that are within your control and learning to accept the things you cant change. Weve come up with four questions to ask yourself the next time youre feeling stressed, to help you decide on your next move.

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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Cholesterol

Whether or not youre stressed, its smart to see your primary care physician once a year for a complete exam, including a check of blood pressure, heart rate, weight, cholesterol, and thyroid hormones. And dont let a doctor brush off your stress.

When women have heart palpitations, doctors are more likely to think that theyre either experiencing stress or anxiety, or that theyre hysterical in some way. As a result, women tend to be underdiagnosed with heart disease, says Dr. Haythe. And this happens despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. A good rule of thumb: If unusual symptoms persist for more than a week or two, see your physician.

How Can You Help Yourself

If you’re feeling stressed, there are some things you can try to feel less tense and overwhelmed.

1. Recognise when stress is a problem

Its important to connect the physical and emotional signs youre experiencing to the pressures you are faced with. Dont ignore physical warning signs such as tense muscles, tiredness, headaches or migraines.

Think about whats causing your stress. Sort them into issues with a practical solution, things that will get better with time and things you can’t do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve.

Make a plan to address the things that you can. This might involve setting yourself realistic expectations and prioritising essential commitments. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help and say no to things you cant take on.

2. Think about where you can make changes

Are you taking on too much? Could you hand over some things to someone else? Can you do things in a more leisurely way? You may need to prioritise things and reorganise your life so youre not trying to do everything at once.

3. Build supportive relationships

Find close friends or family who can offer help and practical advice can support you in managing stress. Joining a club or a course can help to expand your social network and encourage you to do something different. Activities like volunteering can change your perspective and have a beneficial impact on your mood.

4. Eat healthily

5. Be aware of your smoking and drinking

8. Be mindful

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