March 17

How Does Chronic Stress Affect Your Body?

Can Stress Be Ruining Your Sleep and Overall Health?

Stress is everywhere and can affect every aspect of life; from physical health to emotional health, stress can throw everything out of balance. While the right amount of stress can be a positive force to move forward, overly-stressed or having chronic stress can make a person miserable as it starts to take a toll on health and behavior. Chronic stress is the result of repeated exposure to situations that lead to the release of stress hormones. While good and acute stresses are often quick and over once the situation has dissipated, chronic stress wears on the mind and body over time. How does chronic stress affect sleep and overall health?

Sleep and Chronic Headaches

Chronic stress often leaves people awake at all hours of the night. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey, 43 percent of adults say stress causes them to be up all night. This kind of stress can also decrease the quality of sleep, disrupting the circadian rhythm, thus making a person feel sluggish and tired during the day. Chronic stress has also been known to cause tension headaches, joint pain, and muscle pain. It can also intensify arthritis and back pain.

Messing with Your Brain

According to a study by the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), chronic stress affects the brain’s ability to concentrate, act efficiently, and makes the body accident-prone. Chronic stress can also affect a person’s memory and learning ability as it actually kills brain cells. The part of the brain which that controls the stress hormone, cortisol, channels glucose to the muscles during a stress response and leaves less fuel for the brain. Cortisol also interrupts the communication between brain cells by compromising neurotransmitter functions in the brain. If chronic stress continues, it can cause the hippocampus to turn off the cortisol production and leave the brain damaged. This type of stress can also worsen depression, increase anxiety, decrease the quality of life, and affect interpersonal relationships.

Increases the Risk of a Heart Attack, Heart Disease, and a Stroke

While a direct link between chronic stress and heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes has not been found, these conditions have been known to worsen the risk factors for these conditions. Stress can increase the heart rate and force, affects the heart rhythms, and constricts the arteries. It can also thicken the blood, damage blood vessel linings, and increases blood pressure.

Makes You Sick

Another effect of chronic stress is the risk of illness. Stress can dampen the immune system, meaning the body is at risk for illnesses. Since stress also contributes to inflammation in the body, the immune system reacts to the inflammation by sending out immune compounds to fight off the inflamed cells. These immune compounds leave the body at risk for illness when they damage the cells.

Weight Gain and Digestive Disorders

Since digestion is dialed down during the stress response, chronic stress can contribute to a variety of digestive disorders. Stress can cause stomach disorders like a bloated stomach, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also worsen ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease. This stress can also mean weight gain and worsen cravings for fat, sugar, and salt.

Chronic stress can cause many health problems, leaving the body weak and vulnerable. Want to learn more about how Shakthi Health & Wellness Center can help you relieve some of your chronic stress? Call us today!


Chronic Illness, stress reduction

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