Negative Impacts of Stress on Physical and Mental Health

Negative Impacts of Stress on Physical and Mental Health

Are you losing your mind to stress? You will be surprised to know how negatively it impacts your physical health as well. Stress is a common part of life and can be brought on by a number of things, including a career, personal relationships, or financial difficulties. While some levels of stress can be energising and inspiring, chronic or extended stress can be harmful to physical and mental health. Read on to learn about the negative impacts it has on the mind and body.

Stress and physical health

Stress can have a variety of physical impacts on the body. Headaches, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, exhaustion, unsettled stomach, and recurrent colds or infections are a few common signs of stress. Additionally, long-term stress can have more harmful bodily effects, such as the following:

  • Cardiovascular issues: Risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke are all increased by chronic stress. Furthermore, it can exacerbate pre-existing cardiovascular disorders. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can raise blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and heart rate, are released by the body under stress. The heart and blood vessels may be subjected to greater stress as a result of these changes, raising the danger of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular conditions.
  • Digestive issues: Stress can lead to digestive issues like diarrhoea, bloating, and stomach pain. Additionally, it may make disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) worse. Numerous factors, including decreased blood supply to the digestive tract, slowed digestion, and increased muscle stress, can all have an impact on the digestive system. Diarrhoea, bloating, and stomach pain are a few digestive symptoms that may result from these alterations. 
  • Sleep issues: Stress can interfere with sleep patterns, causing insomnia or difficulties falling asleep. The body’s regular sleep-wake cycle may be disrupted by stress hormones, making it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Stress can also lead to frantic thoughts or worry, which makes it challenging to unwind and go to sleep.
  • Compromised immune system: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, leaving an individual more susceptible to infections and illnesses. The immune system can be suppressed by stress hormones, which makes it less capable of warding off diseases. In addition, bad habits like smoking, drinking, and eating poorly can be brought on by stress, weakening the immune system even more.
  • Changes in weight: Stress can cause people to develop poor eating habits, which can lead to weight gain or loss. Some people who are stressed out may overeat or turn to unhealthy meals as a coping mechanism. On the other hand, stress can also make some people lose their appetite or completely miss meals. Physical health can be negatively impacted by weight gain as well as weight loss.

Hormonal Imbalance: Stress can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance by causing the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Chronic stress on the body can result in an overproduction of these hormones, which can throw off the body’s hormonal equilibrium. Stress-related hormonal imbalances can lead to a variety of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, decreased libido, weight gain or difficulties reducing weight, mood swings or irritability, trouble sleeping, and weariness.

Did you know stress can be the root cause of your anaemia?

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Mental impacts of stress

Stress can have a wide range of mental and emotional effects on a person. Restlessness, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, irritation or hostility, and feelings of helplessness or hopelessness are a few of the typical symptoms of stress. Chronic stress can also result in more severe mental health issues like:

  • Anxiety: Stress can lead to anxiety symptoms like worry, fear, or panic. The body’s “fight or flight” reaction is triggered by stress, which can cause symptoms including racing thoughts, fast breathing, and an elevated heart rate. These symptoms may be upsetting and impair day-to-day functions.
  • Depression: Prolonged stress can exacerbate pre-existing depression or contribute to its development. Neurotransmitters that are involved in mood regulation, like serotonin and dopamine, can be interfered with by stress. Stress can also result in negative thought patterns, which can worsen symptoms of depression.
  • Memory issues: Stress can impair cognition and memory, making it difficult to focus and finish tasks. Stress hormones can affect how well the brain processes and remembers information, making it more difficult to concentrate and recall things.
  • Mood swings: Anger, impatience, and other mood swings can be brought on by stress. Stress hormones have the ability to influence brain chemistry, which can impact mood and behaviour.

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How to manage stress?

Maintaining one’s physical and emotional wellness requires effective stress management. The following are some techniques to try in order to handle stress:

  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help lower stress and enhance general health. Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that can elevate mood and lessen stress.
  • Relaxation methods: The body and mind can be relaxed through methods like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. These methods can ease bodily tension and promote mental calmness.
  • Time management: Setting boundaries and prioritising chores can help one feel less stressed. One can lessen their level of stress by scheduling their time and placing restrictions on their responsibilities.
  • Support from others: In order to manage stress, it might be beneficial to connect with friends and family and seek support from a mental health expert. Talking to someone about stress can make one feel less lonely and more supported.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Stress reduction strategies include eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and taking breaks. Taking care of one’s physical health might make one feel better overall and experience less stress.

It’s critical to identify the coping mechanisms that are most effective for individuals and to prioritise self-care. Finding strategies to control stress and uphold general well being is worth the time and effort since maintaining good mental health is just as vital as maintaining good physical health. Consistent headaches, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, attention problems, and feelings of overload or unease are a few symptoms of chronic stress. It is crucial to get assistance from a medical or mental health expert if you are exhibiting any of these symptoms. They can assist you in pinpointing the root reasons of your stress and creating appropriate coping mechanisms. 

About Author –

Dr. Mayurnath Reddy, Consultant Psychiatrist, Yashoda Hospitals – Hyderabad


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Dr. Mayurnath Reddy

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