Too much stress does not just affect your head. Stress can be beneficial, unavoidable and powerful at times; short term stress is helpful in the situation where immediate response is required. When you are doing preparation for the exam, then the anxiety you feel can motivate you to concentrate on your task or the stress you feel while trying any new activity will help you to push yourself.

Stress Affects your Entire System and Not Just your Mind!

However, the chronic stress and acute stress can trigger a sense of danger and serious effect on the body. From panic attacks to mental breakdowns, crying to sweating as well as the physical illness can easily swing the individual into a tizzy. (Think of impulsive or extreme responses to a traumatic event or disaster or the popular celebrities who have fallen down in the spotlight glare.)

Stress is a 'Signal of Danger' to Your Body

According to the biology, from the caveman days, the bodies of human are designed to respond to stressors by indicating them as danger—however today's danger does not include the saber tooth tigers.

If you cannot calm yourself after going through a stressful situation, then try out sleeping, yoga, meditation or any other thing that works for you or else your body goes into the fight-or-flight mode. Due to the intense stress, which is short term, your body assumes that there is some sort of threat, which will lead to the release of chemicals. The fast acting adrenaline will affect every organ of your body. The cortisol level will rise and on the same time, the autonomic nervous system will be triggered.

In that autonomic nervous system, there is parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system that works cycle during the daytime. In order to overcome the average stressor the sympathetic works overtime. The heart rate will also rise.

Let us say that your stress is related to the work, so you go home do yoga, meditate and take a nap. Such people can easily recover. The parasympathetic nervous system activates and orders the body to be calm. You can think about is like a lullaby or a car where you can brake, accelerate, brake, accelerate. It means your heart rates slowdown, which release energy from your body.

At times, the sympathetic nervous system can also get jammed. It means that you are now the extended version of the fight or flight mode. The non-essential processes will be in the shutdown mode, which includes processes such as digestion to immune function. Your body will not worry about fighting the cold virus even when your body senses immediate threats then you are suffering from the acute stress.

It usually happens when you are in the prolonged stress mode- a troubled relationship or a big project that requires all your energy. Your body will recognize the rigors of these cases an immediate danger. A panic attack can be triggered if you get less sleep or eat unhealthy food. The reason for it is that your system is ready to fight but you are not.

Every person reacts to different psychological stress in a different way. Everyone systems are unique physiologically. Everyone has their own internal needs, eating well, sleeping well for the goodness of their body. You can have a full-blown incident if these needs are not met adequately.

The Slow and Steady Effect of Stress

There is more to it. If the stress is not acute or intense at a time, but slowly grows over time, then you can have major chronic stress problems, which is a buzzy topic in the field of psychology right now. Chronic stress will change the structure of the brain and it also has great impact on the patients' immune system.

Such health problems and situation is termed as the psychoneuroimmunology by the scientist where stress can alter or modify the immune system. There is the presence of the cytokines that are responsible for transporting the information throughout the body. When one is chronically stressed, they are overworked, overpopulating and sending random or mixed message to the body.

Your immune system is unaware of the function that should be conducted with these mixed messages, which leads to real and long lasting changes in the immune system, and functions. This is the reason for the autoimmune conditions after the chronic stress. Sometimes the Crohn's disease is observed, whereas sometimes Shingles disease is observed.

Catastrophic impact can be seen when there is moderate stress for a long term. This can lead to destructive health problems such as the headaches, depression and gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and heartburn. It can also affect the ability of an individual to concentrate. It can also lead to insomnia. The ability to focus on the work or a relationship can also be affected.

5 Ways Chronic Stress Affects Your Health

Chronic Stress Affects Your Health

  1. Chronic Stress Affects your Health by Shrinking your Brain

    Your brain structure will be changed due to chronic stress, which will make you more susceptible to addiction and depression. It is according to the research from the Yale University. A person who has a history of adversity has less matter in the section of the brain includes impulse control, emotional regulation and stress. The consequences? We know that clearly, but the idea is that one can lose the ability to moderate or control the way the stress affects them and it makes them reactive as you have less brain matter to respond.

  2. Chronic Stress affects your Digestion by Throwing off Your Gut Bacteria

    The gut bacteria include all the beneficial bacteria that play a vital role in the immune system as well as helping you in the metabolism of nutrients. The quantity of the bacteria in your gut is about 10 times greater than the quantity of the cells in your body.

    If the person is stressed then the nerves in the gut will directly let go the neurotransmitters into the environment, which will alter the environment of the gut as well as the diversity of the bacteria that are present in it.

    The barrier function of the intestinal wall can be affected due to the stress. This ‘leaky gut’ can lead to cardiovascular disease, which will encourage the plaque formation in the blood vessels.

  3. Chronic Stress Activates Inflammation throughout your Body

    The normal reaction of the immune system when there is any threat to the body (like infection) is the inflammation. Stress also activates inflammation in low levels in the body, according to a research. A study also says that the everyday stressors includes the public speaking, mental math calculation can trigger inflammation in the blood. The plaque buildup in the insulin resistance, arteries can be due to the prolonged stress, which releases the inflammatory chemicals. The lowest level of the inflammation related to the chronic are also linked to the cardiovascular disease such as the type 2 diabetes and many other metabolic diseases.

  4. Chronic Stress in Men Reduces their Sperm Count

    When the comparison of the men with the lowest stress level was done with the highest stress level person there was a difference between the sperm count. The stressed men's sperm were more likely to be less mobile and deformed. The sex hormones such as the luteinizing hormone and testosterone are reduced due to long term stress.

  5. Chronic Stress Makes you Want to Have Lots of Junk Food

    There are reasons why you approach for chips or chocolates even in the middle of a stressful or busy day. Stress increases the brain activation in the sections, which are responsible for the reward, and motivation in response to the tasty food.

    How can you manage the stress responses? Well, you cannot really control the way your body responds to stress, but you know things that are healthy for your body. For example, make out time in your schedule for exercising regularly. You should give yourself permission to distinguish between things that are healthy and which are unhealthy.

Finding an Outlet is Very Important in Fighting Stress

In Conclusion: Any type of stress whether acute or chronic, is a big deal if you are unable to find an outlet. One of the best ways to handle or manage stress is to expel it, through outdoor exercise or any other activities. Exercise can degrade the stress hormones. Moreover, it floods the body with the endorphins, which will improve your mood, provide healthy distractions and boost up energy. Yoga is also a good option. You can seek help of an expert or a therapist if you are unable to find a solution for it in your own.

You should know that you have more control over the stress than you think. You have the power to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system that will calm your body. You should breathe deeply as slowing down the breath is good physiological strategy.

There is a feedback loop when your body is dumping the adrenaline. By continuing to stew in the stressful situation,you are letting the body know that there is an imminent threat. You should start practicing the calmness. The message to the brain will be sent that you are okay when you break the pattern of the stress, which will slow down the release of these chemicals.

Also Read:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: October 14, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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