The Effects of Stress

Posted by Michael Dean on

Effects of Stress

Unfortunately, stress is difficult for professionals to define because it is a subjective experience that is different for each of us. Things that cause stress for some people can be a pleasant experience for others. Each of us also react to stress differently. Some people break into a sweat, some people eat more while others grow pale or eat less. There are many different physical as well as emotional responses that we show. This is a list of the most common signs and symptoms of stress:

 

Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress

  1. Regular Headaches, or pain
  2. Teeth Clenching, Gritting, grinding teeth
  3. Stuttering or stammering
  4. Shaking, trembling of hands, lips
  5. Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
  6. Light headedness, faintness, dizziness
  7. Frequent flushes, sweating
  8. Dry mouth, problems swallowing
  9. Cold or sweaty hands, feet
  10. Frequent colds, infections (low immune system)
  11. Rashes, itching, or hives
  12. Unexplained or frequent allergy attacks
  13. Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
  14. Constipation, diarrhea
  15. Difficulty breathing, sighing
  16. Sudden attacks of panic
  17. Chest pain, palpitations
  18. Frequent urination
  19. Low sexual drive or performance
  20. Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness
  21. Increased anger, frustration, hostility
  22. Depression, frequent or intense mood swings
  23. Increased or decreased appetite
  24. Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
  25. Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  26. Trouble learning new information
  27. Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
  28. Difficulty in making decisions
  29. Feeling overwhelmed
  30. Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
  31. Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
  32. Procrastination
  33. Nervous habits, feet tapping, fidgeting
  34. Increased frustration, irritability
  35. Overreaction to petty annoyances
  36. Increased number of minor accidents
  37. Obsessive/compulsive behaviours
  38. Reduced work productivity
  39. Rapid or mumbled speech
  40. Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness
  41. Problems with communication
  42. Social withdrawal or isolation
  43. Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
  44. Weight gain or loss without diet
  45. Increased smoking, alcohol, or drug use
  46. Excessive gambling or impulse buying

 

As you can see by the above list, stress can have far reaching effects on our emotions, moods, and behaviours. But what is equally as important, but often less appreciated, are the effects on different systems, organs, and tissues all over our body.

Physical or mental stresses may cause not only physical illness, but mental or emotional problems also. Here are the parts of the body affected by stress:

  • Hair: High stress levels may cause excessive hair loss and some forms of baldness.
  • Muscles: Spasmodic pains in the neck and shoulders, musculoskeletal aches, lower back pain, and various minor muscular twitches and nervous tics are more noticeable under stress.
  • Digestive tract: Stress can cause or aggravate diseases of the digestive tract including gastritis, stomach and duodenal ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon.
  • Skin: Some individuals react to stress with outbreaks of skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.
  • Brain: Stress triggers mental and emotional problems such as insomnia, headaches, personality changes, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
  • Mouth: Mouth ulcers and excessive dryness are often symptoms of stress
  • Heart: Cardiovascular disease and hypertension are linked to accumulated stress.
  • Lungs: High levels of mental or emotional stress adversely affect individuals with asthmatic conditions.
  • Reproductive organs: Stress affects the reproductive system causing menstrual disorders and recurrent vaginal infections in women and impotence and premature ejaculation in men.

Stress can also cause many emotional and physical disorders including depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, lowering of the immune system which can lead to an increase infections, as well as a host of viral linked disorders ranging from the common cold to herpes, to certain cancers, as well as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

In addition, stress can have direct effects on the skin (rashes, hives, atopic dermatitis), the gastrointestinal system (peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis) and can contribute to insomnia and degenerative neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

In fact, it is hard to think of any disease in which stress cannot play an aggravating role or any part of the body that is not affected (see the above list of effects of stress on the body). This list will undoubtedly grow as the extensive ramifications of stress are increasingly being appreciated.

As we can now see the huge ramifications that stress can have in our lives, it is important that stress is managed so that we can prevent this from having a negative impact on our health and well-being. In the following post we will address the topic of How to Manage Stress and the various techniques we can use in our everyday lives.

Looking forward to seeing you next time

Mike

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