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How Stress Affects Our Health

People talk about being stressed out all the time but what does it really mean?

First, you should know that stress is a personal experience. It affects us all differently. For some people, it’s the frustration of a bad commute or uneasiness of a big event. It may be the makings of a bad day but that’s about it. For others, it feels continuous as we go through a big loss or a divorce.

When we sense danger of some kind, our bodies respond by producing a flood of adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones jolt the body to get it ready for emergency action. It’s a physical response to events that threaten us in some way or upset the norm. Stress hormones give us a sudden burst of energy to slam on the brakes or the strength to move out of the way quickly. After our stress response kicks in, our body becomes exhausted. That’s normal too. However, if this pattern continues for too long, it begins to damage our health, our relationships and our quality of life.

Some of the effects of stress on your body:

  • Headache
  • Acne breakouts
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest pain
  • Upset stomach – heartburn, diarrhea, IBS (note: stomach ulcers, which some may think are caused by stress, are really triggered by bacteria)
  • Sleeping problems
  • Possible hair loss (the research is mixed)
  • Change in sex drive
  • Higher blood sugar (if you already have type 2 diabetes, you may need to adjust medication when under stress)

A European study of people with stressful jobs found they were 23% more likely to have a heart attack than someone without job-related stress. Other studies have shown that sudden emotional stress may trigger a heart attack or arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) in people who have heart disease. The problem is that some people don’t know they have anything wrong until stress leads to a heart attack.

The effects of stress on your mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Lack of focus
  • No motivation
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Irritability and anger

How stress changes your behavior:

The behavioral effects of stress can be short-term or long-term. When it gets out of control and you feel overwhelmed, it can wreak havoc through…

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Ill temper, annoyed or easily angered
  • Biting your nails, biting the inside of your mouth, grinding your teeth
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to reduce the impact of stress on your health. We’ve gathered our best tips that you can read in the next article below. Also, if you notice some of the symptoms and would like to talk to a medical expert about it, please call us at (951) 683-6370. The staff at Riverside Medical Clinic is happy to help you find relief!

How to Handle Stress

Perhaps the best way to celebrate Stress Awareness Month is to learn how to create less stress in our lives. Here is our list of tips to help keep your stress level in check: