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5.4: Health Effects of Stress

  • Page ID
    13359
  • Stress is a feeling you get when faced with a challenge. In small doses, stress can be good for you because it makes you more alert and gives you a burst of energy. For instance, if you start to cross the street and see a car about to run you over, that jolt you feel helps you to jump out of the way before you get hit. But feeling stressed for a long time can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Even though it may seem hard to find ways to de-stress with all the things you have to do, it’s important to find those ways. Your health depends on it.

    What are the most common causes of stress?

    Stress happens when people feel like they don’t have the tools to manage all of the demands in their lives. Stress can be short-term or long-term. Missing the bus or arguing with your spouse or partner can cause short-term stress. Money problems or trouble at work can cause long-term stress. Even happy events, like having a baby or getting married can cause stress. Some of the most common stressful life events include:

    • Death of a spouse

    • Death of a close family member

    • Divorce

    • Losing your job

    • Major personal illness or injury

    • Marital separation

    • Marriage

    • Pregnancy

    • Retirement

    • Spending time in jail

    What are some common signs of stress?

    Everyone responds to stress a little differently. Your symptoms may be different from someone else’s. Here are some of the signs to look for:

    • Not eating or eating too much

    • Feeling like you have no control

    • Needing to have too much control

    • Forgetfulness

    • Headaches

    • Lack of energy

    • Lack of focus

    • Trouble getting things done

    • Poor self-esteem

    • Short temper

    • Trouble sleeping

    • Upset stomach

    • Back pain

    • General aches and pains

    These symptoms may also be signs of depression or anxiety, which can be caused by long-term stress.

    Can stress affect my health?

    The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones. These hormones make blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels go up. Long-term stress can help cause a variety of health problems, including:

    • Mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety

    • Obesity

    • Heart disease

    • High blood pressure

    • Abnormal heart beats

    • Menstrual problems

    • Acne and other skin problems

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