Chronic Stress: Risks and Effects

In and of itself, stress is not always a negative thing. Instead, it is a typical response to events in life. It’s natural to experience tension from time to time. Temporary stress might be brought on by a looming work deadline, an imminent job interview, a divorce, the passing of a loved one, or forthcoming test results.

What leads to persistent stress?

You undoubtedly have pals that seem utterly unaffected by everything that happens in life; they seem at ease around situations that would normally make others anxious. However, some individuals respond extremely strongly to even little situations. The majority of individuals lie somewhere between these two extremes.

What signs of stress are there?

As already said, obvious and present danger causes acute stress. A variety of physical problems cause the fight or flight response to be triggered. Chronic stress, which lasts longer than acute stress and is more pervasive, may have much more profound impacts. These include behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and physical symptoms. Long-term effects on a person’s mental and physical health are possible with chronic stress.

The main systems that prolonged stress affects are what?

The American Psychological Association asserts that practically every organ system in the human body is impacted by chronic (long-term) stress.

Neural system

The nervous system is built to handle immediate stresses. The body’s reaction to impending danger is directly influenced by the sympathetic nervous system. Long-term stress, though, may deplete the body’s energy reserves. Numerous bodily organs may deteriorate due to the nervous system’s regular prompting.

Hormone system

The body produces more cortisol, a hormone usually referred to as a stress hormone, from the adrenal glands when a person is exposed to stressful events. In the long run, elevated cortisol levels may cause a number of health issues, including diabetes, obesity, and depression, even though this is a vital reaction to provide extra energy during a momentarily stressful situation.

Mechanism of defense

Reduced immunity results from the body’s production of a number of chemicals during times of stress that affect the immune system. People who are older or who have underlying medical concerns are at a higher risk than others.

The digestive system

A direct line of communication exists between the neurological system and the gut via the brain-gut axis (it explains why you sometimes feel nauseous or experience butterflies in your stomach before an exam or big presentation ). The millions of bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal system, known as the gut microbiome, might undergo alterations as a result of stress. This may result in symptoms including indigestion, heartburn, bloating, nausea, and vomiting.

Respiratory apparatus

Stress-related strong emotions may have an impact on respiration, resulting in quick, shallow breathing or shortness of breath. Normal respiratory systems are normally unaffected by this, but it may worsen conditions like asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and COPD in persons who already have them. Additionally, if a person is predisposed to mental health difficulties, fast breathing in a stressed individual might cause a panic attack.

Circulatory system

Acute stress reaction symptoms include elevated heart rate and blood pressure. However, persistently high blood pressure and a raised heart rate from chronic stress may result in heart disease and other major health issues.

System of muscles and bones

The muscles stiffen up when the body is under stress. Chronic stress causes the muscles to be permanently stiff or tight. Physical symptoms including tension or migraine headaches, as well as neck, shoulder, and back discomfort, might develop from the resultant muscular tension.

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