The fast-changing world has given no time for people to cope with it and the result is often seen in people having stress. Out of three, two are reported to be in stress whether it is because of the uncertainty or the hardships or the growing world.
It’s so normal being in stress that even people don’t recognize when they are in one until it starts showing in some kind of physical ailment. Stress is a feeling of emotional strain, basically a psychological pain. But can you believe stress isn’t always a bad thing?
Actually, stress is desirable, beneficial and often healthy. It usually alerts an individual to protect oneself from the danger and motivates them to work better in the fear of bad results. It prepares for things that possibly can go wrong, whether to make big wedding plans or to pass the exams, it always motivates you to work harder.
We all have been facing stress in our day-to-day lives, as we are so used to it that we don’t even get bothered to diagnose it but the consequences of having long term stress can be easily discernible. Stress varies from person to person, what causes stress to one person may be of no problem for others. And the coping ability to stress also varies with people.
History has shown that excessive amounts of anything have never done good to anyone. Same way taking stress for a long period of time can affect the body in several ways. That’s what we call chronic stress, a prolonged period of having pressure and constant stress which leads a person to unpleasant feelings. It usually invites serious ailments.
There are psychological, physical and emotional symptoms, which includes rapid heart rate, fatigue, Irritability, increased blood pressure, poor decision making, persistent thought of stressor, sleep problem, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, changes in appetite and many more.
With these symptoms, how can one live a life happily, even peacefully? So, it’s important to acknowledge the chronic stress with the help of symptoms and consult concerned doctors to manage them. Now let’s talk about how many ways chronic stress can affect the body.
Stress can affect the body, feelings, thoughts and behavior. Effects of long-term stress are depression, anxiety, eating disorders, anhedonia, personality disorders (mental health problems), headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, high heart rhythm, stroke, heart attacks, obesity, gastro-intestinal problem, sexual dysfunction, (Physiological problems) social withdrawal, substance use, outbursts (behavioral problems) and cognitive functioning problems.
15 ways chronic stress affects the body
Chronic stress can likely be an asset in developing depression. Byproducts of stress hormones work as sedatives like calming oneself, but when these hormones are increased in the body, one might be in low moods or depression. Chronic stress loosens one’s coping skills which hinders the normal routine of a person. Sometimes it completely wears you down and overwhelms you results in sleeping problems, productivity, mood, and appetite.
Long term stress is likely to cause anxiety. When stress is chronic it increases cortisol and corticotropin present in the body. It's a hormone that works with some parts of the brain which controls mood, fear and motivation. So, it affects the body negatively if those hormones are in excessive amounts.
• Eating disorders
Consistent stress reinforces disordered eating and changes the eating patterns. Stress causes them to make impulsive decisions, not knowing what’s productive. They consume less food even sometimes in large amounts.
Chronic stress grips a person so tightly that it can’t be undone easily and have a normal life. With time, a person is no longer interested in the things he once used to as he gets overwhelmed by them. Always in an edgy mood and soon lose interest in things until stress is managed.
• Personality disorders
Personality is an internal factor which usually consists of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that keeps forming with time. And when a person is having chronic stress then that person might feel his personality changing like stress causes hostility, irritability, frustration and that leads to being a different person, a different personality.
Stress is the body's reaction to danger whether it’s perceived or real. One having constant stress feels a sense of insecurity, it might be perceived sometimes but they always take it as real which tightens neck and shoulders. Stress often changes the behavior without one noticing it and chances are likely one having headaches due to all these.
• Heart blood pressure and high heart rhythm
Our body produces many different hormones in stressful events. And those hormones increase, blood pressure causing the heart to beat faster and harder.
• Heart problems
Stress causes cortisol high which increases heart rate and blood pressure. An increased heart rate and blood pressure make the heart work harder which weakens heart muscles and eventually leads to coronary diseases.
• Stroke and heart attack
Stress increases blood pressures and heart rates, and that increases fat and sugar degree in blood. Consistent blood pressure can weaken the blood vessels which cause blood clotting and vessels to burst out triggering stroke and heart attack.
• Gastro-intestinal problems
Chronic stress causes constipation, upset stomach and diarrhea. It increases gut motility and fluid secretion which leads to intestinal problems.
• Sexual dysfunction
Chronic stress affects the hormones that lowers the libido. When stress restricts blood flow, it may cause erectile dysfunction. Sometimes it affects the potency too.
• Social withdrawal
Chronic stress mostly creates negative feelings that hampers relations. And the behavior often is different when they are in stressful events. They don’t even know what their behavior will be, unaware of the actions caused by stress so they tend to be alone and withdraw from people.
• Substance use
Everyone gets stressed at some point and some seek solace in the alcohol and cigarettes. They tend to feel good when they are using substance, and it lightens their mood, but then soon they get addicted to it. So chronic stress is likely the reason for using substances.
Stress causes irritability, bad mood, and sometimes hostility. All this piles up and anger bursts out. It’s so common that a person having stress burst out on someone or something, so we take it lightly. Anger outburst affects every relation of the person.
• Cognitive functioning
With increased stress hormones in the body alters the aspects in the nervous system which mostly affects the functioning of neurons in the brain and the brain cannot function properly. It lags behind paying attention, filtering out the information, confusion and decision making.
Maybe the reason for you having headache, irritability, bad moods, cannot be due to some illness but stress. So, always spare time to introspect oneself to keep one healthy, and do not take stress lightly as it can be hazardous if not taken care of. Also, counsellors are there to help you out if one can’t manage it by oneself so feel free to reach out to any counsellors.