It’s Not All In Your Head—Chronic Stress Damages Your Entire Body.

August 11, 2017

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We all experience stress from time to time.

Whether you are dealing with the illness of a loved one or you are struggling with debt, stress is a natural reaction when we face a tiring situation.

Although it seems like stress only affects your mood and outlook on life, experiencing it often has devastating effects on the body.

The impact of stress on your major organs can cause some serious damage!

1. Digestive Problems Are Linked To Chronic Stress

Your body’s stress response causes numerous reactions within the digestive system. Chronic stress can cause bloat, constipation, cramping, and diarrhea. Stress can worsen cases of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

The next slide is at the root of many bodily diseases, and chronic stress can be the direct cause…

2. It Triggers Inflammation Throughout The Body

The immune system has to work harder when you are under stress, and this can cause inflammation. The immune system produces compounds called cytokines while under stress, and this results in an inflammatory response that can damage healthy cells in the process.

Inflammation increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

3. The Aging Process Is Sped Up By Stress

When the body is in a constant state of stress, many physiological processes that are not considered urgent are simply not performed. This includes the importance of blood flow to the skin to prevent lines and wrinkles. The better the circulation of blood to the skin, the more collagen is present, which prevents signs of aging.

4. It Depletes Your Ability To Concentrate

If your body is producing a lot of the stress hormone cortisol, it leaves very little energy and fuel left over for your brain. Cortisol also disrupts the brain’s ability to function fully, making it harder for you to concentrate and perform.

The next slide reveals your cardiovascular system is also at risk when you suffer from chronic stress!

5. High Blood Pressure Is A Direct Result Of Chronic Stress

Suffering from stress for an extended period of time causes your blood pressure to rise and increases your risk of developing heart disease.

Stress may also encourage you to develop unhealthy heart behaviors, such as smoking or eating a diet high in saturated fat and salt—which are directly correlated to suffering from a stroke or heart attack.

6. Your Memory Begins To Suffer

Reports have found that those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder have shown their hippocampus to shrink by 8% in size, which controls the brain’s memories. Stress can prevent you from making new memories and from accessing the old. This can affect a person’s ability to learn and even perform daily functions.

7. Weight Gain Is A Sign Of Excessive Stress

Being stressed for prolonged periods of time can greatly affect your waistline. The over production of the stress hormone cortisol leads to excessive belly fat and increases a person’s cravings for sugar, salt, and fat. Consuming these foods regularly increases an individual’s risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

8. Other Forms Of Mental Illness Stem From Stress

Chronic stress can impact every impact of a person’s life, from work, sleep, to their personal relationships. A person may develop depression as a result of their stress, due to a sense of isolation and possibly unbalanced serotonin levels.

The following slide reveals how serious stress can be when it comes to your brain…

9. Chronic Stress Kills Your Brain Cells

If you’re constantly feeling stressed out, you’re doing more damage to your brain than you realize. The presence of the stress hormone cortisol can lead to an excess of the neurotransmitter glutamate, which produces free radicals that attack brain cells.

Stress will leave you feeling physically ill, too…

10. Stress Suppresses Your Immune System

If you suffer from chronic stress, your body is busy fighting off a threat rather than a virus or infection. Stress makes it easier to get sick and harder to get well. Those with chronic stress experience more severe symptoms of the cold and flu, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

11. Existing Aches And Pains May Worsen

Although chronic stress may seem like a mental phenomenon, there are definite physical consequences. There is a link between chronic stress and headaches, joint, and muscle pain. Stress has been shown to worsen arthritis symptoms and the occurrence of tension headaches.

This is why many complain that stress from work gives them headaches and backaches—a major indicator of chronic stress!

12. Toxins Can Easily Enter Your Brain Under Stress

The blood-brain barrier is a filter that allows nutrients to enter the brain while preventing toxins and other harmful substances from entering, but chronic stress can make this defense mechanism less effective. Chronic stress weakens this layer of defense, allowing toxins, chemicals, and pathogens to enter the brain.

A weakened blood-brain barrier can lead to brain cancer and other brain infections, making chronic stress a major problem when it comes to brain health!

13. Your Skin Is Extremely Sensitive To Stress

Chronic stress can cause a hormonal imbalance within the body, which leads to issues at your skin’s surface.

The lack of blood flow to your skin during your body’s stress response can cause a variety of skin issues. Skin conditions such as acne, eczema, hives, and rosacea are common responses to someone experiencing chronic stress.

14. Chronic Stress Can Shrink Your Brain

Stress affects every part of person’s brain, including the prefrontal cortex. This portion of the brain is responsible for decision making, memory, and impulse behavior.

Chronic stress hinders a person’s ability to make decisions and even control their impulses, and the next slide reveals this can lead to destructive behavior…

15. Addiction Can Begin As A Case Of Chronic Stress

Many people who suffer from significant levels of stress choose to self-soothe through comforting behaviors. The use of alcohol, tobacco, and other addictions can raise dopamine and serotonin levels temporarily, and individuals that are stressed may turn to these behaviors as a quick fix to their discontentment.

Any form of addiction only worsens chronic stress, as well as any other mental and physical problems an individual is facing!

16. It Raises Your Alzheimer’s Risk Significantly

Alzheimer’s is an extremely debilitating disease that destroys a person’s memory and overall mental function. Middle-aged chronic stress increases a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s significantly, and stress on the brain is especially detrimental to those at risk.

Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, revealing that chronic stress can really take a toll on an individual’s mental well-being.

17. Your Respiratory System Will Be Compromised

Chronic stress can greatly impact your breathing and the health of your entire respiratory system. Your body’s response to stress increases your breathing in an attempt to circulate blood throughout your body. Those who suffer from respiratory diseases such as asthma or emphysema will see an increase in the severity of their symptoms.

Your blood sugar may skyrocket, too…

18. Your Blood Sugar May Soar

Your liver’s response to stress is to produce more blood sugar, giving you the energy for dealing with the stress-induced incident. Chronic stress can cause the body to not be able to handle the amount of blood sugar it is producing, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.

19. Stress Can Negatively Impact Your Reproductive System

Chronic stress can cause your sexual desire to decrease, and it can cause a man’s testosterone levels to decrease. This can result in erectile dysfunction or sexual impotence. Women can suffer from irregular or missed periods, and menopause symptoms can become more prominent.

The following slide will have you tossing and turning at night.

20. Your Sleep Schedule Will Become Sporadic

Chronic stress can cause an individual to suffer from racing thoughts, anxiety, and fear. This can make it extremely difficult to fall asleep at night, and chronic stress is linked to cases of insomnia.

Sleep is a crucial part of the body’s ability to rebuild and repair—especially the brain—and chronic stress interferes with this important nightly process.

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