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What Are The Side Effects of Stress and Anxiety?

What Are The Side Effects of Stress and Anxiety?

Stress refers to a natural mental and physical reaction to various life experiences. Every one of us expresses stress depending on a particular time. Anything associated with everyday responsibilities, such as family and work to severe life events, like war, new diagnosis or death of any loved one triggers stress.[1]

The body of an individual responds to stress by simply releasing hormones to increase the breathing and heart rate, while ready the muscles to respond. Because of this, if the stress response fails to stop firing or remains elevated for a relatively long time, it may toll your good health.

What Are The Side Effects of Stress and Anxiety?

Side Effects of Stress

Endocrine System and Central Nervous System Disorders. Endocrine, CNS disorders are the side effects of stress. The central nervous system of an individual remains in charge of the flight or fight response. Hypothalamus present in your brain gets the rolling ball to tell the adrenal glands for releasing the two stress hormones i.e. cortisol and adrenaline. Both hormones rev up the heartbeat and send blood to rush to areas, which require it the most during emergencies, like your heart, muscles and other essential body organs. When the stress ends, hypothalamus tells other systems to perform their functions normally. In case the CNS fails to return to normal state or the stressor fails to go away, rev up process will continue.

Digestive System Disorder. Digestive system disorders are the side effect of stress. When you experience stress, your liver produces additional amount of glucose i.e. blood sugar to increase your energy level. Moreover, if you remain in chronic stress condition, your body fails to keep up with the additional surge in the blood sugar. Chronic stress in this way increases your risks related to developing type 2 form of diabetes. Increase in heart rate and rapid breathing may even upset the digestive system, because of which you likely experience acid reflux.

Immune System Disorder. Stress is responsible to stimulate your immune system. However, with time, stress hormones make your immune system weak and reduce its response to deal with foreign invaders. People experiencing chronic stress are of highly susceptive towards common cold, flu and various types of viral infections.[2]

Side Effects Of Anxiety

Every individual has anxiety with time, but chronic anxiety interferes with the life quality. In some cases, anxiety has serious consequences on the physical health of an individual.

Cardiovascular System Disorder. Cardiovascular system disorders are a side effect of stress. Anxiety disorder may lead to rapid heartbeat rate, chest pain and palpitations. Even an individual may bear the risk of hypertension and cardiac problems. Moreover, if you are a heart patient, anxiety may increase your risk related to coronary events.

Central Nervous System Disorder. Long-term panic attacks and anxiety may cause the brain to release various stress hormones regularly, which increases your frequency associated with anxiety symptoms, like depression, dizziness and headaches. Whenever you feel stressed and anxious, your brain floods the nervous system with chemicals and hormones designed to respond to any threat.

Digestive System and Excretory System Disorders. Anxiety adversely affects your digestive system and excretory system. Because of this, an individual may often experience diarrhea, nausea, appetite loss, stomach pain and related digestive problems. Anxiety disorders further result in IBS i.e. Irritable Bowel Syndrome development post a bowel infection, which further leads to constipation, vomiting and diarrhea.[3]

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD takes place when you worry about different things extremely for about 6months or even long time. In case you have mild problem, you may complete the daily activities without any difficulty, while severe cases may affect your life in an adverse way.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder i.e. PTSD problem develops after you experience and witness anything traumatic in your life. Symptoms may start immediately or may delay for many years. Major causes of the problem are natural disasters, war or any physical attack.

Social Anxiety Disorder. Social anxiety disorder consists of paralyzing fear related to social situations and fear related to humiliation by other people. The phobia in its severe form leaves a person to feel ashamed and makes him alone.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder often feel as overwhelmed with the strong desire for doing a few specific activities repeatedly. Alternatively, they experience unwanted or intrusive thoughts, which may involve obsessions or distress feelings.

Panic Disorder. Panic disorder causes spontaneous anxiety feelings, panic attacks and impending doom or terror feelings. Physical symptoms of the problem are chest pain, heart palpitations and breathing shortness and similar others.[4]


To conclude, we should say that both stress and anxiety have side effects, because of which they adversely affect almost every major system present in a human body.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 14, 2022

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