10 Dangerous Effects of STRESS

Posted by John Coppola on 22 Jan, 19


What Is The Epidemic of the 21st Century?

Stress often begins in your head. You may have a worry, fear or anxiety about an issue. Although stress starts in the head, its effects are far reaching throughout the body. When you are stressed, your body ramps up production of stress hormones: cortisol, adrenaline (epinephrine) and norepinephrine. This triggers the start of the stress response, and, like a snowball rolling down a mountain, it gains traction, speed and size mowing things down in its path.

Among all the factors contributing to declining health and early death, stress is perhaps the most insidious. Research studies are finding that chronic stress, due to demanding and hectic lifestyles, is the latent cause to the insurgence of many diseases like cancer, stroke, heart attacks and G.I. disorders, to name a few.

It’s no wonder why doctors and scientists are calling stress “The Epidemic of the 21st Century!”

Chronic Stress Equals Serious Damage

Stress causes both physiological and psychological damage to the body. It’s important to understand these effects, if we’re to be proactive in countering them. Otherwise, we continue with the illusion that we’re healthy; and then are shocked to find that our bodies are crumbling around us.

Chronic Stress (sustained, re-occurring) produces a continual surge of Cortisol hormone. Short-term release of cortisol is necessary and not damaging to the body; however, sustained, long-term release has serious health ramifications.

Many studies have shown that chronic stress depresses the immune system by decreasing the production and activity of White Blood Cells. It also causes Cardiovascular diseases like strokes and heart attacks by releasing lipids/fats into the blood stream. These lipids accumulate within artery walls creating “plaquing” or “hardening of the arteries”. This leads to Angina, stroke and myocardial infarction.

Stress Overload Zone: 10 Stress Related Health Problems

More and more health problems are being linked to chronic stress.

1. Kills Brain Cells

Although you may think working under pressure gives you the edge or you ‘get off’ on the adrenaline rush…Chronic stress has devastating effects on memory and learning. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, chronic stress affects your ability to concentrate and learn. Clinical studies have shown that it actually KILLS brain cells resulting in shrinkage of the brain.

According to the Franklin Institute, stress affects the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) making it more permeable. This means that chemicals, toxins, viruses and bacteria can easily cross over to the brain.

2. Stress Increases Risk of Heart Disease, Heart Attacks and Stroke

Stress can increase blood pressure, increase heart rate leading to palpitations and increase cholesterol and triglycerides. The Franklin Institute reports, as a result, stress levels can increase atherosclerosis (plaquing or hardening of the arteries) and raise the risk for stroke. Over a period of time, stress will also damage the linings of blood vessels and raise levels of inflammation throughout the body.

3. Stress Suppresses the Immune System

Chronic Stress hinders your immune system, making people much more susceptible to infections. It also increases the severity of the symptoms of infection, such as a cold or flu.

On the flip side, chronic stress will drive inflammation up and keep it up in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked with a multitude of health conditions and diseases including:

  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

4. Stress Contributes to Weight Gain and Obesity

Stress results in elevated levels of cortisol. This can result in excess accumulation of adipose deposition or belly fat. This also worsens the cravings for salt, sugar and fatty foods.

5. Stress Can Cause Digestive Issues

Digestion is slowed down during the stress response. As a result, you can experience bloating, cramping, constipation or diarrhea. Chronic stress can also worsen heartburn, GERD, ulcers and IBS. It’s also been proven that stress decreases nutrient absorption.

6. Chronic Stress Can Trigger Alzheimer’s Disease

Stress production of cortisol damages the hippocampus of the brain affecting new learning pathways and memory. Due to the increased permeability in the BBB, brain lesions associated with Alzheimer’s can be accelerated.

7. Stress Affects Your Mood

Constant stress will affect your sleep patterns and quality of sleep. This can lead to irritability, fatigue and inability to concentrate. Stress can leave you feeling edgy and overreactive. You may be unable to relax which can thrust you into a state of anxiety and even depression.

8. Chronic Stress Increases Pain

Stress and pain are closely linked with each impacting the other. Continuous release of cortisol causes a sustained state of muscle contraction. The muscle no longer has the ability to rest due to the persistent release of this hormone, leading to a muscle spasm.
As a result, strain is placed on both the muscle and joint. It has been proven in research that stress can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Joint pain (neck, back)
  • Muscle Pain and Spasm
  • Intensifies Arthritis Pain

9. Stress Affects Sexual and Reproductive Function

Chronic stress reduces sexual desire and drive in women and can contribute to erectile dysfunction in men. Chronic stress can increase the severity of PMS and can decrease fertility in women. Research has shown that chronic stress can intensify menopausal symptoms.

10. Stress Affects Skin and Aging

Stress results in hormonal imbalances which decrease blood flow to the skin. This can accelerate aging and wrinkles. The following skin conditions have all been linked to stress:

  • Eczema
  • Acne
  • Hives
  • Psoriasis
  • Rosacea

INSIGHTS

It’s important that we recognize that stress damages our physical, mental and emotional health. Since it’s impossible to avoid stress, we need to learn how to “Release the Steam” or dissipate its effects on our health. This can be achieved with many simple and easy forms of Stress management strategies, such as:

  • Regular physical activity
  • Relaxation techniques (Deep breathing, meditation, massage, tai chi or yoga)
  • Spend time in nature
  • Engaging in hobbies (gardening, reading a fun book, arts and crafts, listening to soothing music)
  • Keeping a good sense of humor…Laugh!....Laugh!....Laugh!
  • Listening to motivational audio tapes
  • Soaking in hot tub with Epsom salt
  • Diffusing essential oils into the room (Lavendar, rose, chamomile, ylang ylang, bergamot, frankincense)
  • Keep a journal
  • Chiropractic adjustments

There are several key supplements that will help you combat stress and its effects. If you are under any type of chronic stress from physical stress of hard workouts to mental stress or the physiological stress of an illness, taking these supplements are critical.

  1. Magnesium (take between 400mg – 1000mg daily) (note: magnesium may cause loosening of stools)
  2. L-theanine (promotes relaxation and has the ability to cross BBB and promote alpha brain waves, associated with alert relaxation.) Take 50mg – 200 mg at bedtime
  3. Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) (Increases energy, RBC formation, DNA synthesis, myelin formation on nerves and improves alertness, attention span, concentration and memory.) Take a minimum of 2.4 mcg daily for anyone age 14 and older.
  4. Potassium (Low levels of potassium lead to mental fatigue, stress and anxiety.) Take 3500mg to 4700mg daily
  5. Vitamin D (Along with supporting hormone production, bone, immune system and nervous system health, vitamin D facilitates serotonin production. Healthy serotonin levels elevate mood.) Take 4000 IU’s daily if your vitamin D levels are in a healthy range [60-100 mg/dL] or take 8000 IU’s daily if your vitamin D levels are below 60 mg/dL


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