How Is Stress Diagnosed
Stress is subjective not measurable with tests. Only the person experiencing it can determine whether it’s present and how severe it feels. A healthcare provider may use questionnaires to understand your stress and how it affects your life.
If you have chronic stress, your healthcare provider can evaluate symptoms that result from stress. For example, high blood pressure can be diagnosed and treated.
Your Body Under Stress
However beneficial these effects may be in the short term, constant responses to stress can use up that same stored energy, and that is where the problems begin. Chronic stress can cause physiological problems, said Nicola Contreras, MSN, a registered nurse and clinical assistant professor with the Texas A&M College of Nursing. Lasting stress can lead to headaches, muscle soreness and other chronic complications.
When a person is stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol, and elevated cortisol can be the start of a variety of issues. It can cause cognitive problems, such as interfering with mood and memory, and it can also increase weight gain, blood pressure and cholesterol.
If you begin feeling ill after a particularly long and stressful few days, that likely isnt a coincidence. Elevated cortisol can tank your immune system, or it may manifest as symptoms that make you contact your health care provider.
Sometimes people will go to their provider with gastrointestinal problems, like constipation or diarrhea, that are brought on by stress, Contreras said. In other cases, stress could weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to illnesses, like the cold or flu.
Articles On Stress Management
Stress is any change in the environment that requires your body to react and adjust in response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.
Stress is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you and around you — and many things that you do yourself — put stress on your body. You can experience good or bad forms of stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.
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Infographic Transcript: Effects of Stress on the Body
Youre up against a deadline at work, and you feel the stress building. You begin to sweat. Your heart is beating fast, and your muscles are tightening.
Stress affects our bodies every day, whether we realize it or not. While some research has shown that small levels of stress are good for you, too much stress on the human body can be harmful.
Stress can cause headaches, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, and general fatigue. It can also affect your mood, making you anxious and restless, especially with the feeling of being overwhelmed, which can lead to sadness, irritability or depression. Too much stress can also affect your behavior, change your eating habits, prompt angry outbursts and lead to drug and/or alcohol abuse.
Stress affects various parts of the human body in different ways. Heres a look at how stress affects some of our major organs:
Brain: Headache, migraine: Stress can trigger headaches or migraines.
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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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.
Increased Sensitivity To Pain
Its well known that stress can cause physical tension, which can lead to painful headaches and neck and back pain. But stress can also affect how people experience pain, often causing an exaggerated response to an otherwise minor stimulus.
One study;in children with recurring abdominal pain showed that stress reduced their tolerance for that pain, and in people with chronic pain, pain levels;spike;during periods of stress.;Scientists;think this heightened pain response might occur because stress can make the hormones that help people cope with painless effective.
Chen gives the example of a transgender patient who experienced debilitating back pain from a work injury, which resolved only after she shared her gender identity with her family.
This patient had the most profound back pain Id ever seen, and it lasted for years, with such an exaggerated pain response, Chen says. She had been hiding her transgender identity and had not been able to process that, and it was only after going through the transition that her pain completely resolved.
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Stressors During Adulthood And Their Psychological Sequelae
LIFE STRESS, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION
It is well known that first depressive episodes often develop following the occurrence of a major negative life event . Furthermore, there is evidence that stressful life events are causal for the onset of depression . A study of 13,006 patients in Denmark, with first psychiatric admissions diagnosed with depression, found more recent divorces, unemployment, and suicides by relatives compared with age- and gender-matched controls . The diagnosis of a major medical illness often has been considered a severe life stressor and often is accompanied by high rates of depression . For example, a meta-analysis found that 24% of cancer patients are diagnosed with major depression .
Stressful life events often precede anxiety disorders as well . Interestingly, long-term follow-up studies have shown that anxiety occurs more commonly before depression . In fact, in prospective studies, patients with anxiety are most likely to develop major depression after stressful life events occur .
DISORDERS RELATED TO TRAUMA
Your Hair Is Starting To Shed
When stress levels become too much, it’s pretty common for your hair to peace on out. You might notice a bit more shedding, say, when you take a shower. Or, you might experience a more severe form of hair loss called telogen effluvium, Bhanuasli tells me. This can cause noticeably thinner hair all over your scalp. But don’t worry â it can all grow back once you deal with your stress.
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Q: How Does Stress Affect The Brain
Dr. Sinha: 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 losing short-term memory hinders todays brain-intensive lifestyle. We all recognize the frustration of forgetting where we put our keys, names of people we just met or other recent events.
Nor does stress help you function any better on brain-intensive tasks. In one study, scientists studied brain blood flow while subjects performed tasks that required sorting large amounts of dataessentially stressful multitasking. They found that the prefrontal cortex, the executive part of the brain used for planning, execution, reasoning and organization, was initially very active but then tired and shut down. That left the reptilian brain, the impulsive and emotional brain, in charge.;Pay attention to how your emotions transform in the midst of multitasking, typically moving from initial clarity to confusion and frustration.
The Effects Of Stress On Your Body
Youre sitting in traffic, late for an important meeting, watching the minutes tick away. Your hypothalamus, a tiny control tower in your brain, decides to send out the order: Send in the stress hormones! These stress hormones are the same ones that trigger your bodys fight or flight response. Your heart races, your breath quickens, and your muscles ready for action. This response was designed to protect your body in an emergency by preparing you to react quickly. But when the stress response keeps firing, day after day, it could put your health at serious risk.
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.
Yet if your stress response doesnt stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary for survival, it can take a toll on your health. Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well-being. Symptoms of chronic stress include:
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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.
Is Stress Always Bad
Feeling stressed can be normal, healthy and helpful depending on the situation. Stress is the fight-or-flight response that gets you through job interviews, impromptu speeches and those awkward encounters with your ex. In these situations, stress helps you to overcome a short-term challenge that you know you can handle. Its only a problem when its constant or the situation is out of your control. At times like these, its important to know how to cope with stress.
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The Physiological Effects Of Stress
Within your central nervous system you have the autonomic system. This controls all of the processes that you do without thinking, such as breathing, digestion and your heartbeat.
Within the autonomic system there are two systems of interest, which work in tandem with each other. These are the sympathetic system, known as the fight or flight system, and the parasympathetic system, or the rest and digest system.
The sympathetic system is responsible for increasing heart rate, increasing blood pressure and increasing blood sugar to help you to perform when stress hits.;When you are stressed, this system triggers these necessary responses, and the function of your rest and digest system is reduced.;The parasympathetic system is responsible for suppressing heart rate and bringing you back down to homeostasis.
Another hormone released when we are stressed is cortisol. Cortisol is an energising hormone which increases the level of blood sugar. This is great in the short term to provide energy to react quickly, but in the long term it can be bad for the immune system .
Your Blood Sugar Feels Low
High stress levels can start to affect your blood sugar, leaving you shaky and weak and in dire need of a snack. This awful feeling is usually the result of elevated nighttime or early morning cortisol levels, which can be associated with strong emotional responses, Wander tells me. In other words, if you feel low blood sugar-y, it may be due to all the stressful chaos that’s going on in your life.
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You Feel Tired All The Time
Feeling exhausted after a busy day is one thing. But feeling tired all the damn time, and for no reason at all? Well, that’s something else entirely. This form of unexplained sleepiness may be a sign of adrenal fatigue, which occurs when your adrenal glands become overtaxed with cortisol, Dr. Stephen Wander tells me. The constant stress can cause you to feel worn out, even when you really shouldn’t be that tired.
Biological Need For Equilibrium
Homeostasis is a concept central to the idea of stress. In biology, most biochemical processes strive to maintain equilibrium , a steady state that exists more as an ideal and less as an achievable condition. Environmental factors, internal or external stimuli, continually disrupt homeostasis; an organism’s present condition is a state of constant flux moving about a homeostatic point that is that organism’s optimal condition for living. Factors causing an organism’s condition to diverge too far from homeostasis can be experienced as stress. A life-threatening situation such as a major physical trauma or prolonged starvation can greatly disrupt homeostasis. On the other hand, an organism’s attempt at restoring conditions back to or near homeostasis, often consuming energy and natural resources, can also be interpreted as stress.
The ambiguity in defining this phenomenon was first recognized by Hans Selye in 1926. In 1951 a commentator loosely summarized Selye’s view of stress as something that “…in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself”.
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Sexuality And Reproductive System
Stress is exhausting for both the body and mind. Its not unusual to lose your desire when youre under constant stress. While short-term stress may cause men to produce more of the male hormone testosterone, this effect doesnt last.
If stress continues for a long time, a mans testosterone levels can begin to drop. This can interfere with sperm production and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress may also increase risk of infection for male reproductive organs like the prostate and testes.
For women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle. It can lead to irregular, heavier, or more painful periods. Chronic stress can also magnify the physical symptoms of menopause.
Flatulence Bloating And A Lot Of Peeing
Bergquist says the gut-brain communication that takes place during stress can sometimes lead to an imbalance of gut flora, which for some people leads to bloating or flatulence.
The intestines have their own nervous system called the enteric nervous system that connects to the brain. The intestines can spasm when a person feels stress, and with that can come diarrhea, constipation, or flatulence its different for every individual, Bergquist says.
The fight-or-flight phenomenon causes all the bodys systems to ramp up to help a person escape. Lin says some people experience the urge to pee more frequently when theyre in a chronic state of stress. During fear or anxiety, stress causes us to physically dump so we can move faster, she says.
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What Does Stress Do To Your Body And How To Release It
- Post comments:
If you knew what stress does to your body, you would think again before letting yourself fall into the trap of anxious thoughts and negativity.
Stress is a pesky fly that never seems to go away. With our busy lifestyles, its hard to shake it off. The good news is that there are ways to release it.
You Feel Achey And Sore
If you think about how you hold your body when you’re stressed â raised shoulders, clenched jaw, stiff back â then it makes total sense why soreness can occur. This is especially true if you internalize all your stress, Dr. Scott Schreiber tells me. When you do, it can lead to tension headaches and pain in other parts of your body. And, in some cases, may even be a contributing factor for fibromyalgia.
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