Understand Mental Stress Symptoms And Effects On Your Body
Are you experiencing too much pressure? Let’s discuss physical symptoms and mental effects of stress that require attention and care.
In response to stress, your body increases your strength, focus and speeds up your reaction time by the release of hormones in order to prepare yourself to face the situation. That’s why your blood pressure rises, breath quickens, heart rate becomes faster, and your senses become sharper when you are stressed or facing a threat.
When you experience high stress or are frequently stressed, almost every system in your body gets disrupted and causes health problems. This is because your body recognizes your stress as an emergency situation, and the nervous system loses its balance.
Physical Symptoms And Effects Of Mental Stress
Continuous activation of the nervous system due to chronic stress creates problems in other bodily systems. Let’s talk about the symptoms and serious effects which can be caused by long-term stress.
a.) Digestive system:
Your digestive system and brain have constant communication. Stress can cause a decrease or increase in appetite and affects how quickly food passes through the body, which can end up in diarrhea or constipation. It can increase the severity of heartburn and bowel disorders.
Also, stressed individuals tend to eat much less or more or consume alcohol or tobacco to cope with it, which results in heartburn. The other mental stress symptoms of the digestive system are nausea, vomiting, and other stomach discomforts. Stress may alter the gut bacteria, which in turn can influence your mood.
b.) Endocrine system:
During a stressful event, the brain signals the adrenal glands located above the kidneys to produce more cortisol (stress hormone). As we need the energy to face the stress, our liver produces high blood sugar due to increased cortisol. During prolonged stress, our body fails to use this excess blood sugar and may increase the risk of developing diabetes.
c.) Respiratory system:
The breath quickens (rapid breathing) in stress in order to quickly distribute the oxygen to the body. It can cause shortness of breath. Generally, our body can manage this, but stress can worsen the condition in people with respiratory disorders such as asthma and COPD. Sudden disruptive stress can even trigger asthma attacks.
d.) Cardiovascular system:
During stress, heart rate increases and heart muscles contract stronger. The surge of hormones increases the amount of blood pumped to the muscles to increase their strength. This also increases blood pressure. The workload of the heart increases in constant stress and increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
e.) Muscular system:
In order to protect from pain and injury, muscles become tight and stiff during stress. Once the stress passes, the muscles relax. When muscles are tense for long periods due to chronic stress, it can lead to headaches, migraine, and pain in the back. These mental stress symptoms occur due to chronic muscle tension in the neck, head, and shoulders.
f.) Reproductive system:
An excessive amount of stress hormone cortisol can affect the reproductive system. Extended stress leads to low production of a male hormone called testosterone, resulting in a decrease in sex drive. It can even lead to impotence. Stress also negatively impacts sperm production and quality and decreases the rate of conception.
High-stress levels can cause absent or irregular menstrual periods, painful menstruation, decreased sexual desire, and decreased ability to become pregnant in women. Strong emotions can make the mental stress symptoms worse in menopausal women.
g.) Immune system:
Our immune system becomes vulnerable to chronic stress. It can cause a decrease in the number of blood cells involved in fighting infections. This increases the susceptibility to develop infections such as flu and cold. Stress can delay the recovery from diseases and injuries. It can also speed up the ageing process.
Mental Effects Of Stress
Sometimes, stress is positive. It helps us be focused and motivated to meet a particular challenge. The problem arises when the stress becomes constant and frequent. Mental stress caused by financial problems, job loss, workplace, unhealthy relationships, etc., can affect how you feel and think and get through your daily routines.
a.) Mental effects of stress in cognitive function:
Stress affects how memories are formed. People find it difficult to remember things during stress, and this creates learning difficulties. The other cognitive symptoms are inability to concentrate, constant worrying, poor judgement, and negative perception.
b.) Mental effects of stress in behavior:
The behavioral symptoms of constant stress are changes in eating habits (eating very more or less than usual), drinking alcohol or smoking too much, sleeping too much or too little, and too often, avoiding social contact, using drugs, gambling, and aggressive behavior.
c.) Mental effects of stress in emotions:
The emotional symptoms are irritability, anger, anxiety, isolation, feeling unmotivated or unfocused, making bad decisions, and other mental health problems. Introvert people and people seeking more perfection find it hard to manage mental stress symptoms compared to others. Know about the symptoms and treatment of clinical depression.
Reframe Your Thoughts
American psychologist William James says “the greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another..”
Thoughts influence emotions and emotions influence behavior. Try to change the thoughts about a stress-causing factor. When you are stressed about something, try to concentrate on other things. Have a habit of acceptance on matters which you can’t have control. Go through healthy ways to relieve mental stress.