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Health & Balance

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How to Manage Stress

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How Can Stress Affect Your Health?

The problem with stress is that it's cumulative. In other words, if you don't have a healthy way of responding to stress or counterbalancing the "fight or flight" response, constant exposure to stress hormones overloads the body.

Changes in levels of hormones produced by daily stress can hurt your health. When stress levels increase, it results in an overproduction of stress hormones that weaken the immune system. This can lead to physical and psychological problems.

Chronic, or long-term, stress often results in high anxiety, insomnia, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and can even dependency on drugs and alcohol (a self-medication solution that makes an already bad problem worse). Some studies show that the hormones associated with chronic stress are linked to increased fat in the abdomen. That, in turn, increases the risk of chronic and serious illness such as diabetes.

When Should I Seek Help for Stress?

When stress interrupts your life, causing sleep problems or making you feel anxious and out of control, talk with your primary health care professional. He or she might recommend a professional therapist who can offer support and give you some practical lifestyle tips in how to manage stress without letting it take over your life

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 05, 2014
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