Friday, July 31, 2015

Effects of chronic stress

We often reward a harried, overworked lifestyle and regard the low-grade, chronic stress that comes with it as normal, even admirable. The truth is, however, that chronic stress overload can shorten your life and ruin your health. It strains every organ system, contributing to many diseases and aggravating others. It reveals the vulnerabilities to diseases. (Stress finds your Achilles’ heel.) Coping with stress in maladaptive ways, such as skipping meals, abusing alcohol, and becoming a workaholic, accelerates the downward spiral.
Here’s an incomplete list of the potential downsides of chronic stress:
1.                Increased appetite (more people overeat than undereat when stressed), with a tendency to select sugary, fatty food
2.                Weight gain (preferential deposition of fat in the abdomen, which raises the risk of a number of diseases)
3.                Increased inflammation
4.                Depressed immune function (often manifesting as more colds and faster progression of hiv infection)
5.                Insomnia (which further drives up stress hormones)
6.                Irritability, moodiness, and, eventually, apathy
7.                Impaired learning, concentration, and memory
8.                Increased sensitivity to pain fatigue
9.                Dampened libido (sex drive), impaired erectile function, lower sperm counts, and irregular menstrual cycles
10.          Increased risk or aggravation of chronic diseases
11.          High blood pressure
12.          Heart disease
13.          Diabetes
14.          Metabolic syndrome (a constellation of signs indicating risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes)
15.          Peptic ulcers (stress contributes but doesn’t directly cause them)
16.          Irritable bowel syndrome
17.          Gastroesophageal reflux disease (heartburn)
18.          Anxiety
19.          Depression

20.          Allergic and autoimmune condition (stress contributes to inappropriate immune system responses)