Medically the evaluation by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD — composed by Ann Pietrangelo — to update on march 29, 2020

You’re sit in traffic, so late for an important meeting, watching the minutes mite away. Your hypothalamus, a tiny manage tower in your brain, decides to send out the order: Send in the tension hormones! These anxiety hormones are the same ones that trigger your body’s “fight or flight” response. Her heart races, your breath quickens, and your muscles all set for action. This solution was designed to safeguard your human body in an emergency by preparing you to reaction quickly. But when the stress an answer keeps firing, job after day, it could put your wellness at severe risk.

You are watching: How stress can affect your body


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Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction come life experiences. Anyone expresses anxiety from time come time. Noþeles from day-to-day responsibilities choose work and family to severe life events such together a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can create stress. For immediate, momentary situations, stress can be valuable to your health. The can aid you deal with with perhaps serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and also breathing rates and ready her muscles to respond.

Yet if your stress response doesn’t protect against firing, and these stress and anxiety levels continue to be elevated far longer than is vital for survival, it deserve to take a toy fee on her health. Chronic stress can reason a range of symptoms and affect your overall well-being. Symptoms of chronic stress and anxiety include:

irritabilityanxietydepressionheadachesinsomnia

Your central nervous system (CNS) is in fee of her “fight or flight” response. In your brain, the hypothalamus it s okay the round rolling, informing your adrenal glands to relax the stress and anxiety hormones adrenaline and also cortisol. This hormones rev up your heartbeat and also send blood rushing to the areas that require it most in an emergency, such together your muscles, heart, and other important organs.

When the perceived are afraid is gone, the hypothalamus have to tell all solution to go ago to normal. If the CNS fails to return to normal, or if the stressor doesn’t walk away, the an answer will continue.

Chronic tension is additionally a element in actions such as overeating or not eating enough, alcohol or medicine abuse, and also social withdrawal.


Stress hormones influence your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. During the stress and anxiety response, friend breathe much faster in an effort to easily distribute oxygen-rich blood to her body. If you currently have a breathing problem like asthma or emphysema, stress deserve to make it also harder to breathe.

Under stress, your heart additionally pumps faster. Tension hormones reason your blood vessels to constrict and divert more oxygen to her muscles so you’ll have an ext strength to take it action. However this also raises her blood pressure.

As a result, frequent or chronic stress and anxiety will make her heart work-related too tough for too long. As soon as your blood pressure rises, so execute your risks for having actually a stroke or heart attack.


Under stress, her liver produces extra blood street (glucose) to offer you a rise of energy. If you’re under chronic stress, her body may not have the ability to keep up v this extra glucose surge. Chronic tension may rise your danger of developing form 2 diabetes.

The sirloin of hormones, quick breathing, and also increased heart rate can also upset your digestive system. You’re much more likely to have actually heartburn or acid reflux many thanks to boost in stomach acid. Stress doesn’t cause ulcers (a bacterium called H. Pylori frequently does), yet it can increase your risk for them and cause present ulcers come act up.

Stress have the right to also impact the means food moves through your body, leading to diarrhea or constipation. Girlfriend might likewise experience nausea, vomiting, or a stomachache.


Your muscles tense up to protect themselves native injury as soon as you’re stressed. They tend to relax again when you relax, yet if you constantly under stress, your muscles may not acquire the opportunity to relax. Chop muscles cause headaches, earlier and shoulder pain, and body aches. End time, this can set off one unhealthy cycle together you avoid exercising and also turn to pain medication for relief.


Stress is exhausting because that both the body and also mind. That not inexplicable to lose your desire when you’re under constant stress. While short-term anxiety may reason men to produce much more of the male hormone testosterone, this result doesn’t last.

If stress continues for a lengthy time, a male testosterone levels can start to drop. This can interfere with sperm production and also cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress and anxiety may additionally increase danger of epidemic for masculine reproductive organs prefer the prostate and also testes.

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For women, stress can impact the term cycle. It can lead come irregular, heavier, or much more painful periods. Chronic stress and anxiety can also magnify the physical symptoms of menopause.

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Stress stimulates the immune system, which can be a to add for prompt situations. This stimulation can aid you prevent infections and also heal wounds. Yet over time, anxiety hormones will undermine your immune system and also reduce her body’s an answer to foreign invaders. People under chronic stress and anxiety are much more susceptible to viral illnesses prefer the flu and the common cold, as well as other infections. Tension can likewise increase the moment it takes girlfriend to recuperate from disease or injury.

Keep reading: learn tips on regulating your stress »


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Medically the evaluation by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD — written by Ann Pietrangelo — to update on march 29, 2020