What conditions can be triggered by stress?
Published Aug 1, 2022 • By Candice Salomé
Stress is not an illness, but if it continues over time and becomes chronic, it can cause damage to our physical and mental well-being, which can be difficult to reverse.
Stress initially leads to functional disorders linked to the stimulation of organ function, and then to organic disorders.
So what is the impact of stress on our health? What conditions can it cause? How can we learn to manage it better?
We explain it all in our article!
Stress is a physiological and psychological phenomenon that can either be beneficial to our body, or not. There actually exists the so-called "good" stress, which allows us to react, adapt, fight or flee. And there is also bad stress, which is harmful to our health and represents a real danger for our body if it becomes recurrent.
What is stress and what symptoms does it cause?
Stress is a normal physiological reaction to environmental stress or pressure. We are all exposed to stress but we do not all react to it in the same way.
When a person is confronted with a stressful situation, their body initiates a global reaction, intense psychological and physiological responses, which allow them to gather all the resources they have to face the situation in an appropriate way.
It causes an instantaneous adrenaline rush that accelerates the heart rate and amplifies the breath. Thus, better oxygenated, the muscles contract and gain in power. The hormonal and nervous systems then go into overdrive, optimizing the person's physical capacities.
Not everyone is equal when it comes to stress, but there are some common symptoms:
- Muscle tension,
- Sleep disorders, such as insomnia,
- Digestive and intestinal problems,
- Lack of appetite,
- Or skin problems, such as acne, for example.
Stress also affects us psychologically, triggering powerful emotional reactions such as fear, anger, enthusiasm or desire. In addition, memory and analytical skills are sharpened.
In the case of chronic stress, physical overload eventually turns against the body and leads to exhaustion. It plays a significant role in the premature ageing of the body and can lead to certain complications and chronic diseases.
What health conditions can be triggered by stress?
Stress can cause a lot of discomfort to our intestines: bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and nausea. Indeed, stress slows down the transit and, as a result, the bacteria present in the digestive tract trigger an inflammation to defend themselves.
These symptoms can be only temporary, but if stress becomes chronic, it can trigger more serious diseases such as colopathy, irritable bowel syndrome or ulcers.
Stress can become a major risk factor for heart and artery health in the same way as smoking or diabetes.
The effects of stress on the cardiovascular system are linked, among other things, to sympathetic stimulation, which controls a large part of our unconscious activities, such as the heartbeat. It also affects certain neurotransmitters such as adrenaline (which boosts our energy).
Therefore, these biological and physical manifestations are altered and can lead to high blood pressure, angina attacks (lack of oxygen in the heart arteries), strokes or myocardial infarctions.
Stress weakens the immune system, which leads to microbial or viral infections. In fact, to defend the body, the immune system acts as a bulwark against all foreign bodies. However, if the person is under emotional or regular stress, this system becomes disrupted or weakened and certain infections may develop. These infections include chronic colds, sore throats, herpes outbreaks, urinary tract and/or vaginal infections.
Stress can trigger severe skin infections due to histamine, a chemical released by the body in large quantities when the feeling of anxiety is present. Histamine is largely involved in inflammatory processes. Thus, stress can cause itching, hair loss, rash, acne, eczema, hives, psoriasis or herpes.
Stress can disrupt the hormonal system in women and cause certain gynecological problems such as painful periods, irregular cycles, disturbed or delayed ovulation, miscarriages and premature deliveries.
Chronic stress and anxiety can cause muscle and joint pain in certain areas of the body, often in the back or neck. These pains can be explained in part by the overload of adrenaline sent by the nervous system throughout the body to react to danger. The muscles, loaded with toxins and hypertonic, are thus in pain and get tired quickly.
How can we learn to manage our stress better?
In order to prevent the diseases linked to chronic stress, it is essential to take care of oneself through a healthy lifestyle (both physical and mental) and relaxation activities such as meditation, sophrology, yoga or hypnosis.
During periods of intense stress and anxiety, patients can be prescribed an anxiolytic, such as a beta-blocker. These are less harmful and have a better effect on physical symptoms than psychotropic drugs of the benzodiazepine family. They also have the advantage of not causing addiction or daytime drowsiness.
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