Physical Effects of Stress on the Body

Physical Effects of Stress on the Body

You don’t have to be an expert to determine the effects of stress. It’s about listening to your body, being aware of trends, and being well informed. It should help you take better care of yourself.

Physiology of stress

Believe it or not, a little stress is helpful. After all, this is part of the “fight or flight” system. So, with a small load, we increase the pace of work, and as a result, we become more efficient.

However, excessive or chronic stress directly affects three systems in our body:

  • endocrine,
  • nervous
  • and immune.
  1. Stress activates all the connections of the brain and causes a chain reaction.
  2. It causes the secretion of hormones and stimulates the pituitary gland, which simultaneously secretes ACTH corticotropin.
  3. Then corticotropin activates the adrenal glands, causing the production of adrenaline, norepinephrine, corticosteroids (aldosterone), and glucocorticoids (cortisol).
  4. This reaction and abnormal hormonal secretion affect all organs in the body and also directly affect the immune system.

Phases of stress

Hans Selye, an endocrinologist from Montreal, divided the body’s response to stress into three main stages:

  1. anxiety phase,
  2. resistance phase
  3. depletion phase.

Anxiety phase. Initially, this stage is responsible for a certain positive effect of stress stimuli. At this stage, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. There is a secretion of adrenaline and nor-adrenaline, which increases your concentration and attention. Immediate effects may include hypertension, increased heart rate, and sweating. This stage should not last long.

Resistance phase. This phase is the result of anxiety that lasts longer than it should. At this stage, metabolic changes occur, and your organs begin to suffer from the negative effects of nervous system excitation and hormone secretion.

Depletion phase. Finally, the body changes due to an imbalance of systems in response to stress. The symptoms you experience are typical illnesses that stress victims usually suffer from.

Negative effects of stress

For the digestive system

Among the main negative effects of stress on this system are:

  • gastric ulcers,
  • irritable bowel syndrome,
  • ulcerative colitis,
  • gastritis.

In addition, it contributes to bad eating habits, such as poor nutrition, eating junk food, avoiding food, and so on.

For the respiratory system

Stress can affect this system directly or indirectly.

Indirectly, it can increase the susceptibility to respiratory diseases due to the strong impact on the immune system.

It can directly cause:

  • hyperventilation,
  • shortness of breath,
  • psychogenic asthma,
  • and shortness of breath.

For the cardiovascular system

This is one of the systems that suffer the most from stress, and some of its effects can be fatal. Among them:

  • tachycardia,
  • atherosclerosis,
  • myocardial infarction,
  • extrasystole,
  • chronic tachycardia, etc.

For muscles and skin

In this sense, stress can be masked by other causes. It can cause:

  • acne,
  • psoriasis,
  • itching,
  • eczema,
  • dermatitis,
  • muscle cramps,
  • stiffness,
  • hiccups and hyperreflexia,
  • alopecia, etc.

For the nervous system

Unfortunately, the negative effects of stress are so varied that they make us think about our lifestyle and its consequences.

Stress can lead to:

  • anxiety,
  • irritability,
  • amnesia,
  • headaches,
  • migraines,
  • drug addiction,
  • depression,
  • sleep disorders,
  • mental blocks,
  • personality disorders,
  • the development of phobias and fears,
  • and even eating disorders.

The negative effects of stress can lead to loss of physical and mental health. We should not endanger our mental and emotional health at this stage. That is why you need to look for ways out of the situation and professional help.

If you would like help from a professional, reach out to Advantage Mental Health Center is accepting new patients.

Picture Credit: Unsplash

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