Let’s face it. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Not only does it affect our mind and behaviour, but chronic stress may also put our health at risk. Fight the stress with our panel of experts by first knowing its effects on your body.
When a person is stressed, the body produces hormones which increase muscle tension as well as heighten pain sensitivity in the body. If stress persists or occurs regularly, the muscles will become overworked as they remain in a constant state of tension without adequate rest. The body’s pain receptor sensitivity will also increase, leading to a chronic vicious cycle which can often cause chronic aches and pain in the neck, shoulders and lower back.
Ongoing stress over an extended period of time can affect a man’s testosterone levels and causes impotency. For the ladies, it is usually associated with absent or irregular menstrual cycles and low sexual desire. These are caused by the stress inducing hormone cortisol.
Stress and tension headaches often come hand in hand. Chronic muscle tension in the forehead, scalp and neck region causes the pain receptors to be more sensitive, triggering headaches.
Characterised by persistent difficulty falling or staying asleep or having non-restorative sleep, insomnia is a symptom of a sleeping disorder. It can also be a symptom of other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Stress is one of the psychological causes of insomnia. Finding the causes and instituting the appropriate measures to alleviate insomnia is critical. Alcohol use or taking sleeping pills inappropriately may actually disrupt your sleep over the long term.
In the presence of stress, your heart pumps faster to transport more oxygen to your brain and heart. The body also releases stress hormones that make you feel tense. In the long run, it can contribute to high blood pressure and other health problems.
Stress doesn’t create acne but it induces hormonal changes which may indirectly aggravate the acne. Hormones such as cortisol or androgens may stimulate an overproduction of oil in the skin, resulting in acne aggravation.
In chronic stress, prolonged exposure to stress hormones, such as cortisol, can lead to alteration in the function of white blood cells and reduced production of proteins called cytokines. This leaves the body vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections, slows wound healing and alters the course of autoimmune diseases.
IBS is a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract and occurs when muscles in the large intestine contract faster or slower than normal. Any physical or mental stress may trigger a change in the sensation and contraction of the colon, resulting in IBS symptoms.
Stress can make a person feel breathless and even worsen their existing asthma symptoms. When stress hormones are released, the person will have difficulty breathing due to the tightening of the airway muscles and narrowing of air tubes.