Effects of Stress
changes in your body. It also affects your emotions.
How stress affects the body
Common symptoms of
Over time, stress can affect your:1
Immune system. Constant stress can make
you more likely to get sick more often. And if you have a chronic illness such
AIDS, stress can make your symptoms
Heart. Stress is linked to
high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia), blood clots, and hardening of the
arteries (atherosclerosis). It's also linked to
coronary artery disease,
heart attack, and
Muscles. Constant tension from stress can lead to neck,
shoulder, and low back pain. Stress may make rheumatoid arthritis worse.
Stomach. If you have stomach problems,
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD),
peptic ulcer disease,
or irritable bowel syndrome, stress can make your symptoms
Reproductive organs. Stress is linked to
erection problems, problems during pregnancy, and
painful menstrual periods.
Lungs. Stress can make symptoms of
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) worse.
Skin. Skin problems such as
psoriasis are made worse by stress.
An extreme reaction to stress is a panic attack. A panic attack is a sudden, intense fear or anxiety that may make you feel short of breath, dizzy, or make your heart pound. People who have panic attacks may feel out of control, like they are having a heart attack, or are about to die. Panic attacks may happen with no clear cause, but they can be brought on by living with high levels of stress for a long time. For more information on panic attacks, see the topic Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder.
How stress affects your thoughts and emotions
You might notice signs of stress in the way you
think, act, and feel. You may:
- Feel cranky and unable to deal with even
- Feel frustrated, lose your temper more often, and
yell at others for no reason.
- Feel jumpy or tired all the
- Find it hard to focus on tasks.
- Worry too much
about small things.
- Feel that you are missing out on things because
you can't act quickly.
- Imagine that bad things are happening or
about to happen.
How stress affects you depends on many things, such
- Your personality.
- What you have learned from your family about responding to
- How you think about and handle stress.
coping strategies(What is a PDF document?).
- Your social
The type of stress matters
Stress can affect you
both instantly (acute stress) and over time (chronic stress).
Acute (short-term) stress is the body's instant
response to any situation that seems demanding or dangerous. Your stress level
depends on how intense the stress is, how long it lasts, and how you cope with
Most of the time, your body recovers quickly from
acute stress. But stress can cause problems if it happens too often or if your
body doesn't have a chance to recover. In people with heart problems, acute
stress can trigger an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) or
Chronic (long-term) stress is caused by stressful situations or events that last
over a long period of time. This could include having a difficult job or
dealing with a chronic disease. If you already have a health problem, stress
can make it worse.