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The Side Effects of Stress: 8 of the Most Common

Medically reviewed on Mar 30, 2017 by C. Fookes, BPharm.

Stress Makes You Feel Flat and Sad

Studies suggest that those who have difficulty in coping with stress are more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. Depression shares many of the same symptoms as stress but signs of serious depression such as hopelessness, disinterest in life and attempts at suicide require professional help. Stress affects quality of life by muting feelings of pleasure and accomplishment. Stress may also affect mental performance, in particular short-term memory and concentration.

Stress Keeps You Awake

Unresolved stress frequently causes insomnia. Stress over a work or personal issue can ruin any chance of a good nights sleep, whether it disrupts your ability to fall asleep at bedtime or your chances of sleeping through the night.

Stress Affects Sexual Performance

Stress can reduce sexual desire in both men and women. Stress can cause sexual problems including erectile dysfunction in men and failure to achieve orgasm in women. While stress does not normally affect fertility, people who are trying to have a baby are far more likely to conceive while on vacation than at work.

Stress Affects Weight

In times of stress some people turn to food as a sense of comfort, particularly sugary, fatty and salty food. There seems to be an obvious connection between stress, weight gain and obesity. In addition, the weight gain is often around the waist which increases the risk of diabetes and heart problems. There may also be a link between stress and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, although this has not been confirmed.

Stress Causes Pain

Prolonged stress is linked to headaches, particularly stress induced migraines, and muscular pain such as backache. Stress is also thought to aggravate existing conditions such as fibromyalgia and repetitive strain injury.

Stress Makes You More Vulnerable to Infection

Studies suggest that people who are under chronic stress are more vulnerable to colds. It is thought that stress suppresses the immune system making it harder for your body to fight off an attack. People with long-term stress may be more prone to develop an autoimmune disease like arthritis or multiple sclerosis. Allergy flare-ups, are also more likely during times of high stress. There is also some evidence to suggest that chronic stress may lead to insulin–dependent diabetes because stress causes the immune system to destroy insulin-producing cells.

Stress May Cause Cardiovascular Disease

There is a link between stress and an increase in blood pressure (hypertension) Hypertension has no obvious symptoms but left unchecked raises your risk of stroke, heart failure and heart attack. Emotional effects of stress may affect heart rhythms of those with an existing heart rhythm problem.

Stress Causes Hair Loss and Worsens Certain Skin Conditions

Alopecia areata is patches of unexplained hair loss and stress is thought to play a role in its development. Skin conditions including eczema, acne, psoriasis and rosacea are exacerbated by stress, too. Persistent unexplained itching may also be stress-related.

Reach Out For Help

Recognizing and understanding stress signals is vitally important in minimizing the impact stress can have on your day to day life as well as long term health implications. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or someone you care about, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Finished: The Side Effects of Stress - 8 of the Most Common

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