Stress affects your whole body. Your breathing and heart rate quicken, your blood pressure rises, and other body systems kick into high gear. This is your body’s natural reaction to danger—the “fight or flight” response. A little stress every now and then is not cause for concern, but chronic stress is linked to a number of health problems.
Stress Is Your "Fight or Flight" Response https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/crop/596x399%2B9%2B0/resize/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2Fc2%2Fb3%2F452e0fa9466285a9da4eac5641f6%2Fways-stress-affects-your-body-dcp-is-738x399-isk-23825868.jpg
Anxiety is the main byproduct of stress and, not surprisingly, anxiety is the most common mood disorder. Although genetics and your life experiences play a role in your mental health, chronic stress can also increase your risk of developing a mental health problem. One theory suggests the hormones released during stress disrupt serotonin levels, a brain chemical that affects mood. Over time, a change in serotonin levels may lead to anxiety or depression, among other mental disorders.
1. Stress Affects Mental Health https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F09%2Fd2%2F4956381047c7a03d94986e840d89%2Fways-stress-affects-your-body-dcp-s1-738x399-isk-24138697.jpg
When you’re stressed, it can be difficult to quiet your mind and fall or stay asleep. Periodic insomnia is not unusual. However, chronic insomnia—occurring at least three nights a week and lasting more than a month—can make you feel tired, irritable and more stressed. Left untreated, insomnia may lead to other health problems, including depression, anxiety, and heart failure.
Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and abnormal heartbeats. If you are already dealing with these health concerns added stress can make them worse. Stress also causes certain blood cells to become stickier, increasing the risk of blood clots and stroke. In addition to the body’s biological response to stress, behaviors associated with stress—unhealthy eating, smoking and drinking, and not exercising—may be to blame.
3. Stress Affects the Heart https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2Fc5%2F47%2Fcec4c61d42ee87f117f5973ac127%2Fways-stress-affects-your-body-dcp-s3-738x399-isk-19977738.jpg
Hormones released during stress can trigger changes in the blood vessels throughout your body. These changes can cause tension headaches and migraines. Stress may also affect how you handle headachepain. Being agitated may lower your pain-tolerance threshold.