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6 Ways Stress is Killing You

Stress is part of everyone’s life today. It is how the body responds to a situation that requires a reaction or adjustment. The body has a natural mechanism to react to stress, and the changes required in response to stress could be physical, emotional or mental.

Stress is not always bad – it keeps a person alert and avoids danger. However, continued stressful conditions can take a toll on a person’s well being.

How stress affects health

Each person has a different way of dealing with stressful conditions, and everybody has a different scale of reaction to a particular stressful event. What may feel normal for one person may completely stress out another, but beyond a point, stress overload affects everyone. Here’s how:

  1. Higher anxiety levels – One of the first responses to stress is anxiety and a state of panic. In severe cases, stress can cause panic attacks, which can be recurrent in response to a recurring stressful event.
  2. Lowered immunity – Though there is no direct evidence to prove this theory, stress is believed to weaken the ability of a person to fight infection.
  3. Depression – Chronic stress can lead to depression where the person loses interest and hope of finding a solution to the problem. Rather, s/he loses control of the situation at hand and lets negative emotions take a toll on his/her mental and emotional wellbeing. Severe depression can lead to substance abuse and suicidal tendencies.
  4. Substance abuse (drug, alcohol, smoking) – In a state of stress, a person subconsciously gravitates towards drugs, alcohol, and smoking or even binge eating to find temporary relief from the problem, only to get addicted to it. This leads to a host of disorders.
  5. Disrupting bowel function – Many people experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), believed to be caused by brain’s nerves’ interaction with brain chemicals or a lowered immune system.
  6. Increased risk or worsening of diseases – Continued negative stress leads to a state of distress. Distress can manifest itself in a variety of physical symptoms like headaches, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation and chest pain. Stress and anxiety may also increase the risk of certain diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Knowing when stress becomes unmanageable

It is important to manage stress in time before it makes the body susceptible to a host of physical, emotional and mental ailments.

The warning signs of stress begin to show when a person finds himself/herself:

  • Incapable of coping with the situation and feels lost all the time.
  • Battling physical symptoms like body aches, headache, fatigue, interrupted sleep, loss of appetite and concentration, etc.
  • Lack of interest in maintaining relationships with family, friends and colleagues.


Sources:

“Managing stress – Why it’s important for your health,” Bupa.com.au, http://www.bupa.com.au/health-and-wellness/health-information/az-health-information/Managing-stress-why-it’s-important-for-your-health

“Stress management,” MayoClinic.com, Mayo clinic Staff, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495

“Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior,” MayoClinic.com, Mayo clinic Staff, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

“Stress Symptoms,” WebMD.com, http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body

“The Effects of Stress on Your Body,” WebMD.com, http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/effects-of-stress-on-your-body

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