The effects of stress and anxiety far exceed psychological distress. Stress is not confined to your mental realm only and can significantly influence your physical health. The immune system is one of the physiological systems that are affected by stress in the long term. Stress stimulates the cells of our nervous system to release hormones that results in the production of white blood cells to arm the body against infectious agents. However, if the stress is chronic, it can actually suppress your immune system, making you vulnerable to diseases. Chronic stress can also deteriorate the intracellular communication between immune cells which could result in autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Stress has also shown to worsen the already existing disease conditions. The immune system isn’t the only aspect of your body that is adversely affected by stress.
Let’s go through some more effects that stress can have on your body
1. Risk of heart diseases
Stress is one of the main causal factors for arrhythmias, hypertension and can significantly increase your chances of having a stroke. This is why patients of anxiety disorders are particularly vulnerable to heart problems since anxiety can heighten the blood pressure, release the stress hormone cortisol and increase the heart rate which is destructive concoction. Chronic anxiety can also elevade the blood lipid levels which can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis; a condition where plaque obstructs the arteries. Interestingly, research infers that people who have apple-shaped bodies are at a greater risk of cardiovascular diseases than people with pear-shaped bodies since cortisol facilitates abdominal body fat accumulation.
2. Digestive distress
Stress can have a profound effect on your digestive system and can result in the inflammation of the mucosal lining in the intestines, making an individual more likely to develop Crohn’s disease. Additionally, stress can also cause excessive belching, farting and similar gastrointestinal problems. This is because the stress hormone cortisol, stimulates the emptying of the stomach and can slow down the release of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The influence of stress on your hormones can also manifest as obesity. Stress hormone induced physiological changes can increase one’s appetite which can lead to obesity and obesity in itself is a risk factor for more threatening diseases including diabetes, stroke, arthritis and heart disease.
3. Sexual drive and reproductive system
Hormones stimulated by stress can lead to reproductive problems in both genders. Women who suffer from chronic anxiety may experience recurrent vaginal infections, excessive menstrual bleeding and pain. Alternatively, chronic stress in men can cause premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. That’s not all. Stress hormones will also affect your libido. Oestrogen is an important hormone that is involved in reproduction and chronic stress alters the level of oestrogen in the body. This can lead to reduced sexual drive in both men and women. You can ease up these overwhelming symptoms by reducing your processed food intake as much as you can and having a healthy died consisting of all essential nutrients required by the body.