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Physical Effects of Stress

Nicks J Mar 15, 2020
Continuous stress-related activities triggers the stress hormone - cortisol, which disrupts the normal functioning of the body leading to various ailments. The effects of stress can be short term or long term.
Stress is defined as body's response to overdose of anxiety. Anxious thoughts that cross our mind before a job interview or an important examination, lead to stress. Studies show that during a stressful event, body releases stress hormones, which can trigger a wide range of health problems, commonly referred to as physical effects of stress.

Short-term Impact of Stress

A person under stress is uncomfortable and tends to breathe rapidly. People working under tremendous pressure may also experience trembling of hands and legs. Other health issues associated with stress are discussed further.

Irregular Bowel Movement

Too much stress can interfere with normal bowel movement. The onset of irregular bowel pattern may be sudden and occur in the form of diarrhea or constipation.

High Blood Pressure

When in a stressful situation, a set of hormones are expelled into the bloodstream by the adrenal gland. This will eventually raise blood pressure but with source of stress fading away, blood pressure soon returns to normal.

Abnormal Heart Rate

The heart beating faster is a common reaction in people exposed to high stress levels. When dealing with excess stress, the heart tends to pump harder, which may also lead to high blood pressure.

Body Pain

Stress-induced backache and neck pain is a common phenomenon in today's hectic lifestyle. Stress overload causes involuntary contraction of muscles, often in the back and neck area. This decreases the blood circulation in that area, which may eventually give rise to pain.

Decreased Sex Drive

Stress can also have a negative impact on sex drive. People exposed to high levels of stress often complain about diminished sex drive. In other words, with excessive stress, sex life gets drastically affected.

Hair Loss

Receding hair lines or patchy hair loss is something that is strongly connected to stress. Be it family problems or major illness, the resultant stress can cause hair loss.

Long-term Impact of Stress


Sleep disorders like insomnia have also been attributed to chronic stress. Stressful life often makes it difficult to fall asleep for an extended duration.


Short-term stress elevates blood sugar levels temporarily. This is followed by increased secretion of insulin hormone. However, chronic stress causes insulin spikes frequently, to keep blood sugar in check.
Initially the body responds but over time, it becomes resistant to insulin activity, resulting in type 2 diabetes, a condition that is typically marked by persistently elevated blood sugar levels.

Intestinal Disorders

With repetitive stress, digestive issues are likely to raise their ugly head in the form of intestinal problems. The person may suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, in which the colon (large intestine) is unable to carry out its routine task efficiently.

Heart Attack

Chronic stress can cause high blood pressure, thereby increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems such as a heart attack.

Worsening of Existing Health Issues

Respiratory problems like asthma may worsen, if the person is unable to cope up with stress. Skin diseases such as acne and pre-existing gastrointestinal problems such as GERD can also worsen with chronic stress.

Weight Loss

Chronic stress can diminish the desire to eat food. This usually happens when the person is unable to cope up with stress. Poor appetite resulting from stress may eventually lead to weight loss.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.