Stress is something that affects everyone sooner or later. While often viewed as a minor psychological condition, it can take a serious toll on a person’s health. According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), 77% of adults experience physical ailments because of stress. While stress affects people’s health in different ways, some of the most common problems include the following.
Many people who suffer from chronic stress also have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Stress triggers biochemical changes in the body, such as the production and release of cortisol, that disturbs normal sleeping cycles. When stressed, a person may toss and turn all night. And if they happen to fall asleep, they generally won’t enter the deep sleep stage when it’s most rejuvenating and valuable.
Stress also causes fatigue, which is intensified from lack of sleep. Stress is essentially the body’s fight-or-flight response. When a person encounters a perceived threat, his or her body responds by producing adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-related chemicals. This results in a sudden boost in energy and alertness. Unfortunately, these effects are short-lived, with stress causing the person’s energy levels to drop thereafter.
When a person experiences severe, prolonged stress, he or she may develop muscle pain and soreness. There are a few reasons for this phenomenon, one of which is the fact that stress causes muscle tension. A stressed person may unknowingly keep his or her muscles in a contracted state. If this tension isn’t released, the person’s muscles will become painfully fatigued. Stress also contributes to muscle pain by promoting lactic acid buildup. As lactic acid accumulates in muscle tissue, the affected muscles become sore.
High Blood Pressure
Stress is a primary risk of high blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic explains that stress hormones cause a person’s blood pressure to rise. Previously, it was believed that this effect was temporary, but research has shown this isn’t the case. Chronic stress contributes to both short- and long-term high blood pressure.
Weakened Immune System
The immune system relies on proper hormone balance to function as intended. When a person’s hormones are out of balance, his or her immune system will become suppressed, thereby increasing the risk of infection. And because stress disturbs a person’s hormonal balance, it can lead to a weakened immune system.
These are only a few ways that stress affects a person’s health and wellness. When left unchecked, stress can also damage the heart, cause depression and contribute to poor lifestyle choices.