That stress could make you sick…
Are you stressed out a lot?
Believe it or not, stress can make you sick. Stress comes in many forms. It can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Acute stress from everyday events like a work presentation or a job interview are stressful and may even help you to perform better. But chronic stress from money problems, constantly busy schedules, divorce, job loss, or a death in the family can wreak habit on your health.
Stress can cause illnesses like the common cold, the flu, arthritis, or even the odd stomach ache, but it can also cause more serious illnesses.
Here are 10 of most common stress-related illnesses:
Heart disease – Researchers have thought for a long time if you have the stressed-out Type A personality, you have a greater risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is known to cause strokes, so you have to avoid acute stress. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly for 30 minutes 3 to 5 days a week. In addition, they suggest trying yoga or meditation to help you destress. Healthline also reports that there’s a connection between stress and high cholesterol.
Stress has been known to cause chest pain (angina) and heart palpitations, where you can feel your heart beating through your chest.
Doctors do know that sudden emotional stress can serve as a trigger for heart attacks for those with severe cardiac problems.
Asthma – The Cleveland Clinic says that stress is a common asthma trigger. If you have stress and anxiety, these may make your asthma condition worsen. Anxiety and stress can often make you feel short of breath, possibly making your asthma symptoms worse.
Obesity – Not only can chronic stress cause you to eat more, fat is often distributed around your middle. While fat on your hips and thighs is unhealthy, the abdominal fat is even more so. It appears as a result of the stress hormone called cortisol. A Yale University study reported that otherwise slender women who are vulnerable to excess abdominal fat have higher levels of cortisol.
Tension headaches – No one likes a headache, but stress is one of the triggers for headaches. It feels like a dull pain in your head or neck, or like a clamp around your head. If you have a single stressful event, the odd tension headache can spring up. But if you’re suffering from chronic stress, you’ll see more headaches.
Diabetes – When you’re stressed, your body wants to be sure you have enough energy to deal with that stress. This raises your blood sugar levels. If you have chronic stress, your continued high blood sugar levels can cause increased thirst and urination, light- headedness, flushed skin, blurred vision, and restlessness. Plus it can be dangerous.
Depression and anxiety – Anxiety is related to stress. Where stress is concerned, it’s associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety, and can happen if you’re unhappy with a situation, whether it’s your job, home life, or money problems. Depression and anxiety are often related to current health problems that are upsetting you, especially if they’re more chronic like arthritis, heart problems, or even cancer.
Generally, when you have untreated depression or anxiety with an illness, your disease may be more difficult to treat, and the physical symptoms can become worse.
Gastrointestinal problems – Stress can cause Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal disease (GERD), and chronic heartburn. If you already have an ulcer, stress could make that worse.
Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease – Recent research has shown that there’s a possible link between chronic stress, mental decline, and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The University of Gothenburg, Sweden study followed middle-aged women for over 35 years, and found that the risk of dementia was about 65% higher in women who reported stress- related anxiety, tension, nervousness, irritation, or fear due to health, family, work, or other problems lasting over a month. 161 of the women developed dementia, mostly in the form of Alzheimer’s disease.
While this is the first study that shows that stress in middle age can lead to dementia in old age, other studies are confirming similar findings.
Accelerated aging – Researchers studied mothers who have a chronically ill child. These mothers were under high stress. Stress appeared to accelerate the aging of those women about 9 to 17 years.
Premature death – Another study looked at the health effects of stress on elderly caregivers. Those looking after their spouses were highly stressed and these spousal caregivers had a 63% higher rate of death than those who were not caregivers at the same ages.
While some stress is expected in dealing with what life throws at you, chronic stress can make you ill. If you feel like your stress is getting out of hand, it’s best to talk to your doctor.