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The Effects of Stress on Your Body

The Effects of Stress on Your Body

How Stress Affects Various Systems of the Body

Whether you’ve felt the pressures of work, fallen ill or experienced a major life event, everyone experiences elevated levels of stress from time to time. However, long-term stress can be detrimental to your health. It's no surprise that a large amount of stress can take a toll on you emotionally, but you may find yourself wondering how it affects your body as a whole.

In light of Stress Awareness Month, here’s a look at how prolonged exposure to stress affects the major systems of the body.

Mental Health

When the body's stress response becomes chronic, it’s harder for the system controlling the stress response to return to normal. This means that the hormones your body releases to deal with the stress, such as cortisol, continue to act on the brain.

According to MQ Mental Health Research, some emotional and behavioral health symptoms that can be brought on by prolonged exposure to stress hormones include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Problems concentrating
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Memory issues
  • Inability to regulate emotions

Cardiovascular Health

The American Psychology Association (APA) states that when your body is under stress, exposure to the body’s stress hormones causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. Constant exposure to hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol increase your risk for cardiovascular health issues, including:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease

Gastrointestinal Health

According to the American Psychology Association (APA), the gastrointestinal system has millions of neurons that are in constant contact with the brain, meaning that your gut health can influence the brain and vice versa. When your mental health is suffering, and you’re facing high levels of stress, it can trigger the following gastrointestinal health issues:

  • Bloating
  • Discomfort
  • Acid reflux
  • Burping
  • Heartburn
  • Spasms in the esophagus
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Bacterial infection
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Muscle spasms in the bowel

Reproductive Health

The American Psychology Association (APA) states that chronic stress affects your reproductive system in the following ways:

  • Decline in sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fertility issues in both men and women
  • More vulnerable to infection
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Higher risk for postpartum depression

Primary and Specialty Care in Ohio

The Southwest General Medical Group, Inc. includes both primary care and specialty care physicians who are committed to providing patients with high-quality medical care. Our team of board-certified specialists and skilled physicians work to raise the bar for excellence in health care service for our community. To learn more about our primary and specialty care services or schedule an appointment, visit our website.