Stress is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Now, as self-explanatory as that statement can be, the world is still crowded with a good number of people unable to identify or "cure" stress. But the magical situation is, it's the most common word used to identify a certain state of mind in our society. The truth is, several sacrifices have come with the evolution of mankind.
Stress is the common price paid by any civilization striving to attain higher standards of living. Better education, health, technology, and services, come at the expense of individuals involved in these sectors. Which then can be identified as stress from work or we might call it work stress. But there is a new wave or form of stress emerging in our society, which does not only affect providers of services, problem solvers, and risk takers but highly affects the average consumer. That is known as social stress. Stress from the internet, social media, family and friends, stress from society. More than half of the world's population is affected by this problem.
From simple stress to chronic stress. Societies crumbling looking for answers to a problem "difficult" to identify. Long-lasting stress has the potential of developing into chronic stress which might lead to various physical and mental complications. Which if not treated with care, might lead to dangerous clinical conditions. It's also important to note that not all form of stress is harmful to our health. Positive or Eustress can serve as a motivation to achieve goals. Common effects of stress and chronic stress that can drastically affect our health.
Suffering from an autoimmune disease means the body's immune system decides or it's triggered to attack its tissues, leading to physical disorders. Stress lowers the immune system responses, leading to a rise in inflammation levels. Several clinical studies are revealing the fact that stress-related disorders can lead to autoimmune diseases. And a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), reflects that people suffering from stressed- related disorders face a risk of developing multiple autoimmune diseases, especially the youth. Examples of autoimmune diseases include; pernicious anaemia, reactive arthritis, Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and many more.
It's important to know that human beings are unique and different, and also that not all autoimmune diseases are caused by stress, so we should not rely on clinical studies for a final answer. Instead, it's more advisable to consult with a physician before taking any conclusions and making any treatment decisions. Especially knowing that we might have been involved in other habits or actions that can trigger autoimmune disorders.
The skin is the body's largest visible organ, which also makes it vital. Because the skin can easily give signs of your clinical condition through skin disorders or diseases. Especially diseases triggered by stress, which can even worsen due to the level of stress. Most of these skin diseases are said to be a result of a reaction from our immune system trying to fight against "threats" in our bodies. The most common skin disorders caused by stress are; Hives, bumps, acne, rashes, itching, eczema, and many more.
We did mention before that not all stress is bad. It has been observed and noticed that people perform better and can complete tasks to maximum capacity while they're under some form of stress. Hence there is some amount of stress required for most humans to be able to perform to their best ability. When the body is under a short period of stress or triggered by stressors, it activates some level of energy, attention, and focus. Which are beneficial. But, when the body is induced by long-term stress or chronic stress, it suppresses the normal functions of the body, especially the brain. This eventually leads to memory loss, confusion, forgetfulness, loss of attention and concentration, difficulty forming long-term memories, and many other problems detrimental to your overall health and well-being.
Allergies are clinical conditions caused by our immune system's abnormal reactions against a foreign substance. So, allergies are nothing but a by-product of our immune system's abnormal reaction against "harmful" substances. When our body releases hormones triggered through physical reactions or stress, an allergic reaction is formed. This means that allergies are not directly affected by stress, but it's clinically proven through numerous studies that stress, can worsen allergic responses.
Researches by health organizations show that there are millions of people suffering from chronic or long-term sleeping disorders. There are also a generous amount of people who occasionally experience sleeping problems. Physical or psychological stress can lead to insomnia, and experiencing insomnia means experiencing poor or no sleep, which eventually leads back to stress. And this ends up forming a vicious cycle.
Stress and obesity are common problems leading our society. People are either overweight or stressed. There are many social and clinical studies linking these two concepts to each other. It has been observed that many people suffering from stress are also overweight, while many obese people are also stressed. Since being overweight can cause a certain level of stress. Does it imply that you'll gain weight if you're experiencing long-term stress? Not certain Obesity is not directly affected by long-term stress, but it can trigger behaviours that lead to overeating and high-calorie consumption which then eventually leads to obesity. The observations are different among individuals with suppressed appetite due to stress.
Short-term stress is good for you. Not all stress is bad, as we have been saying. Short-term stress can help you stay focused and activated to complete goals or overcome difficulties. But, short- term stress if not released or treated, is compacted into long-term stress which is also known as chronic stress. Chronic stress leads to an overload of stress hormones causing imbalances in the body, which accelerates aging, and aging also leads to stress. Which then becomes a vicious cycle.
Stress, especially psychological stress can have various effects on your digestive system. Being stressed can lead to a rush or delay of emptying of the stomach, which may also lead to stomach-ache, indigestion, heartburn, and nausea. Being stressed might also make you more sensitive to smaller amounts of acid in your oesophagus, making it a total nightmare for people suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD). But whether or not stress increases the amount of acid in the stomach is still a subject of debate requiring numerous experiments for a standard conclusion.
One of the most common ways people identify stress is by hair loss. The moment you meet people you haven't met for a long period of time and discover they've lost some hair, your first impression is that they're surely going through a lot of stress or a rollercoaster of emotions. So, yes, stress has been scientifically proven to affect hair loss. And, there are three common hair loss conditions that could be directly affected by stress, which are; Telogen effluvium, trichotillomania, and Alopecia areata. So, if you find yourself losing hair, it's advisable to consult an expert or doctor and identify the main cause of your hair loss. You might just need to control your stress levels to get your hair back.
Low testosterone has proven to be the biggest nightmare for men in the recent year. As the world is rapidly growing and evolving, people are more likely to be affected by stress. Pressure from society and surroundings might end up with its most common result, which is stress. This stress can either be good or bad depending on the time it takes to be treated or released. Short- term stress can lead to better goals and achievements, while long-term stress can be devastating, especially to men.
When men are affected by long-term stress, their bodies produce stress hormones that directly attack their testosterone levels. And when that happens, it leads to some devastating and negative changes like disease in libido and sperm production. In the worst-case scenario, stress might lead to infections of the male reproductive system due to an attack on the immune system.
Now the problem is that this might look like an everlasting problem because stress leads to low testosterone, and low testosterone leads to more stress. And that's how we end up with a society full of depressed men.
When people are affected by long-term stress or chronic stress, their bodies produce cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for regulating stress responses in the body. Now the problem is, high levels of cortisol in the body for long periods of time through long-term stress can actually affect the circulatory system. This might lead to an increase in blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. It can also lead to more cardiovascular disorders like poor blood flow to the heart muscle, and blood clotting process. Causing stickier blood which might increase the risk of stroke.
Depression and stress are like brothers, and that's why they're always put together. The moment you get frustrated and stressed about something you get depressed, and lose interest in anything you actually enjoy doing and things that make you productive. You lose appetite, concentration, and regular habits, and then you get stressed for fear of being stocked and doing nothing with your life. So, you get more depressed.
There is certain fear coming from the belief that stress can cause cancer. Well, surprisingly there is no actual evidence supporting that belief. So, no, stress doesn't cause cancer, or at least there is no clear evidence supporting that fact. But on the other side, there are numerous pieces of research suggesting the fact that chronic stress can worsen or help spread cancer. When the body is stressed, it releases neurotransmitters known as norepinephrine, which stimulates cancer cells. This stimulation helps cancer cells adjust to new environments and help spread to new places.
Chronic stress can keep your blood sugar levels high, and create the risk of diabetes. There are numerous studies supporting the fact that stress can eventually lead to type II diabetes. This comes as a result of high levels of stress hormones stopping insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from working properly and reducing the amount of insulin they make. Also known as insulin resistance.
Some researchers also link stress to a high risk of diabetes due to bad life choices adopted after being affected by chronic stress. Especially the consumption of unhealthy foods high in sugar.
Damages your immune system
The immune system is simply a complex group of defence mechanisms found in the body that helps prevent humans and other animals from disease-causing organisms or pathogens. When we're stressed, the body releases cortisol, and cortisol boots our immune system by limiting inflammation. So, short-term stress tends to activate our body against attacks. But when it becomes long-term stress, cortisol suppresses the effect of the immune system by lowering the number of lymphocytes. This then eventually affects the immune system's ability to fight antigens. So, the more stressed you become, the weaker your immune system, and the more you're likely to be affected by diseases.
It's been understood that not all stress is harmful to the body. Short-term stress can actually the beneficial in dangerous or uncomfortable situations helping us to achieve goals or complete tasks. While in the other hand, we should keep an eye on long-term or chronic stress which can lead to diseases and chronic conditions.
So, if you feel stressed out or notice some abnormal changes in your overall health or well-being, you should consider seeing a doctor for better understanding and earlier treatment. Maybe is just stress, which if fixed, can save you from a bunch of medical disorders.