Pune


MENTAL WELLNESS
November 2nd, 2020
3 mins read

Stress Symptoms: Effects of Stress on Your Body

It is important to understand the effects of stress on your body and mind

here are different stress symptoms to be aware of

Understanding the consequences of stress is definitely something worth delving into

Maintaining your wellbeing holistically is of key importance, which includes physical, mental and emotional health. Managing stress is an important a part of this process. In everyday life, there are many sources of stress, be it related to work or finances, familial matters, or even with regard to your social circle. This is why it is important to understand the effects of stress on your body and mind. However, you can turn stressful situations to your advantage with proper self-care. In other words, you can counteract the psychological effects of stress but doing so demands that you pinpoint the types of stress you may be experiencing.

To help with that, here are 8 different stress symptoms to be aware of.

Memory problems

Acute stress has been found to have a considerable impact on the way the brain records and stores memories. When under stress, it can be a lot harder to create short-term memories and, in turn, your long-term memory is also affected. Naturally, learning or studying when stressed isn’t ideal. Stress is also known to affect memory recall, as it can shape perception. This is the main reason why eye-witness testimonials are unreliable as the stress of witnessing an event can alter the way the memories are formed and make them different from reality.

Lastly, stress also brings on exhaustion, which can cause cognitive impairment and lead to issues with your working memory. Here, memory impairment can persist several years after the exhaustion has been addressed.

Difficulty in concentrating

While difficulty in concentrating is common for some, understanding the cause can help minimise it. Overall tiredness and emotional stress are known contributors, with the latter having more of a role to play. When you experience stress over a long period of time, a stress hormone known as cortisol is released constantly. This can lead to cell damage in the brain, which causes concentration problems.

Chronic pain

Numerous studies have spoken of chronic pain as a symptom arising due to increased stress. Here, the increased levels of the hormone cortisol could be associated with chronic pain. For instance, on one study, those with chronic pain demonstrated a higher level of cortisol in their hair, a known indicator of prolonged stress.

Similarly, a study compared those with chronic back pain to a control group and found those with the chronic pain to have higher cortisol levels. These studies associate stress with chronic pain, but do not confirm it as a sole cause. Other factors like injury, ageing or nerve damage could also be possibilities. However, this research points to the lasting effects of stress on your physical wellbeing.

Anxiety

To understand this symptom of stress, it is important to note that anxiety is defined as a feeling of fear, unease or worry. This can be observed as a reaction to stress and can further develop into feeling overwhelmed or nervous. Studies have linked stress to anxiety and its related disorders. In fact, on studying the effects of stress on anxiety levels, researchers found that those who had high levels of work stress were likely to develop symptoms of anxiety.

Additional Read: Coping with anxiety during the pandemic

Poor judgement or the inability to make decisions

Research shows that the part of the brain that controls decision-making is affected by stress. Moreover, stress was found to cause confusion between good and bad choices. In fact, chronic stress can lead you to take more risky decisions, not necessarily smart ones. This is because part of the brain becomes impaired when under stress. This is most prominent when faced with a ‘cost-benefit conflict’ as chronic stress greatly affects the ability to judge pros and cons and take a measured decision.

Other research has found that when stressed, men are inclined toward fight-or-flight responses whereas women lean toward bonding and improving relationships. So, in one way or the other, stress can impair clear judgement.

Depression

Stress, be it short- or long-term, can cause major depression. Sustained stress leads to increased activity of your body’s stress-response mechanism. As a result, there is a higher level of cortisol and a reduced level of serotonin and dopamine, both neurotransmitters linked to depression. These affected levels impact other bodily processes like sleep, energy, appetite and regulate normal expression of emotion. So, when dealing with chronic stress, you are prone to experiencing the symptoms of depression.

Additional Read: Depression: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Compulsive behaviours

Studies also link stress to the development of compulsive or addictive behaviours. Research conducted on chronic stress found that it could change the physical nature of the brain to result in addiction-forming behaviours. Moreover, stress can also magnify problems such as drug use, leading to the onset of addiction.

When stressed, common bodily responses include a surge in adrenaline and norepinephrine. These increase energy and excitement. Stress also reduces the appetite and keeps you awake longer. These reactions can also be brought on by stimulant drugs and this can be a reason for addiction brought on by stress.

Frequent colds or sicknesses

Studies have found that stress can be a contributing factor to frequent sicknesses like the common cold or the flu. This is because increased stress levels can negatively affect your immune system, leaving you susceptible to illness. In fact, as per one study, those with high stress levels were found to experience a higher percentage of respiratory infections, 70% more, with 61% more days of infection as compared to low-stress individuals.

Understanding the consequences of stress is definitely something worth delving into as stressful situations occur every now and then. Moreover, prolonged stress is known to have debilitating effects on health and demands special care. This goes beyond any personal remedies you may employ, as certain medication can also help relieve stress. In such cases, consulting a specialist trained to deal with such symptoms is the best way forward.

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