How Does Stress Affect Health?

The Surprising Facts of Stress on Your Physical Health and Your Hormone


Hassles, deadlines, worry, frustrations, fear, and demands, sound familiar to you? In modern life, stress becomes so common that it is part of our routine life. Stress can affect you positively or negatively. In moderate, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. However, when stress goes beyond a certain point, your health pays the price. There are studies that reveal that stress plays a role in triggering or worsening human diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression.


Is stress affecting your life? The good news is you can do something about it.

If you constantly feel overwhelmed, you can protect yourself by learning how to recognize the stress warning signs and taking stress relaxation techniques to minimize its harmful effects. They are various techniques to deal with stress ranges from simple self-help activities, alternative medicine to meditation. 


8 Ways Stress Can Affect Your Physical Body

  • Stress can damage body organs.


  • Affect the immune system, thereby increase your chance of getting sick. Your body can be weakened by stress and you are more susceptible to allergies and infections. Stress can worsen migraines, arthritis, degenerative bone, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.


  • Nervous system breakdown leading to depression or mental illnesses. Depression can seriously affect how you function, get along with others, eat and sleep.


  • Deplete certain vitamin in your body.


  • Hair loss. The effect of stress has an impact on the hair growth pattern. When you experience the stress, chemicals in the body will transmit signals to the hair follicles and enter a period calls the “resting phase”. During this phase, there is no new hair growth while existing hair will be shed normally. Hair appears thinner and results in hair loss. This uneven pattern can cause hair to appear thinner and eventually result in hair loss.


  • You may feel an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure and eventually can increase the risk of stroke or heart attack. Your lungs and heart are going to work harder. The rate of breathing will increase, the lungs take in more oxygen and the blood flow increases. You may feel your mouth is dry because the blood flow will decrease to the areas that are less critical for surviving. The dryness of the mouth means you will have difficulty talking and swallowing.


  • It can also cause elevated cholesterol levels, and cause tense muscles.


  • Increased sweating in the skin. Also, hormone irregularities cause skin problems like acne. Chronic or long term stress can cause other forms of dermatitis like psoriasis and lichen planus.


How Does Stress Affect Health? – Impact on Your Hormones and Your Mood

There are 4 types of hormones linked to stress: Cortisol, Serotonin, Noradrenaline and Dopamine. How does stress affect health from a hormone point of view (inside your body)?


  • Cortisol: This stress hormones help you cope with day to day situations. Surprise, anger, shock, fear, – all these feeling trigger the release of cortisol within your body. This hormone influences the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in your diet, it helps to maintain your blood pressure, combat allergy, inflammation and pain. An elevated level of cortisol is linked to exhaustion, high blood sugar, abdominal fat, heart disease, memory loss and bone loss.


  • Serotonin: It is responsible for your quality of sleep by regulating your sleep cycle with daylight and darkness. Stress can disturb the production of this hormone, affecting your sleep cycle.


  • Noradrenaline: This hormone gives you energy. Too much stress drains your energy and deprives you of any motivation.


  • Dopamine: This hormone helps you experience the feeling of joy. When you experience too much stress, it decreases the production of dopamine resulting in the loss of joy.


Stress Warning Signs

Stress affects everyone differently and everyone cope and manages stress differently too. Different level of stress sends out different signals. Stress, if not managed well can lead to malfunctioning of the brain. Are you under stress? Here are how stress can affect you from physical, emotional, mental, and behavioural perspectives. Getting to know these warning signs can help you to rectify the problems and the effects of stress before it goes uncontrollable and affects the people around you.


What Stress Can Affect Your Mind – Mentally

  • Forgetful, short memory


  • Poor concentration


  • Confusion and loss of ability to make decisions


  • Thoughts of escaping or running away from the problems


  • Misunderstanding of what others tell you


What Stress Can Make You Do – Behavioural

  • Nervous habits such as nail-biting, hair twisting, stammering


  • Isolate yourself from others and social activities, including people close to you


  • Become violent, acting in a defensive, aggressive or impulsive manner such as arguing with people, exhibiting road rage.


  • Overdo activities such as shopping, eating, sleeping, working or exercising


  • Have sex more or less, eat or sleep more or less


  • Excessive use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs or caffeine


  • Take inappropriate risks


  • Withdrawing from social activities


What Stress Can Affect Your Body – Physical

  • Headaches, migraine, stomach aches


  • Sleep disturbance


  • Muscle tense and pain


  • Loss of appetite or overeating


  • High blood pressure


  • Hair loss


  • Asthma or shortness of breath


  • Missed periods


  • Sweaty palms


  • Weight loss or gain


  • Chronic fatigue


  • Immune system suppression


  • Skin problems


  • Periodontal disease


Assess Your Stress Level – Take This Simple Test

After understanding the stress warning signs, would you like to know how much are you under stress? Here is the Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale.


Sum up all the numbers, if the totals are more than 300, it indicates that you are under heavy stress. Destress yourself or you may fall ill.

Event Number
Death of a spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Jail term 63
Death of a close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Fired from work 47
Marital reconcillation 45
Retirement 45
Change in family member’s health 44
Pregnancy 40
Sex difficulties 39
Addition of family 39
Business readjustment 39
Change in financial status 38
Death of a close friend 37
Change in work 36
Change in number of marital disagreements 35
Mortgage payments or loan 31
Change in work responsibilities 29
Son or daughter leaving home 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Change in living conditions 25
Change in residence 20
Other changes 15-20
Vocation 13
Christmas season 12
Minor violation of the law 11

Normally, your body’s immune system can help your body to heal itself under optimal conditions. The problems begin when the body is damaged due to the long term release of stress hormone. Your body will send out stress warning signs and once you realize them, you need to keep the stress within the limit.

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