Short-term stress, such as that you may be feeling right before a big presentation,
can cause helpful changes in your body that make it possible to complete
your task. However, when stress persists for an extended period of time,
the effects on your body can be severe. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to
depression, weight gain, poor disease management, and many problems that require
emergency care, including heart attacks and stroke. Here are just a few
of the ways that stress can impact your body.
When stress occurs, your heart pumps harder than normal, and your blood
vessels dilate, which causes increased blood pressure. These effects aren’t
dangerous for most people during an acute bout of stress and are part
of the body’s natural flight-or-fight response. When they happen
for a prolonged period, the excess burden on your heart and vascular system
can have devastating impacts, including heart attack and stroke. If you
have existing heart disease or are at risk of heart disease, these impacts
can be even more damaging.
Type 2 Diabetes
Stress causes your body to release cortisol, a hormone that causes your
liver to produce glucose to give you the energy to fight back against
your stressor. High levels of cortisol for extended periods upsets your
blood glucose levels and can cause an increase in hunger that can lead
to obesity. Excess weight coupled with the excess blood glucose can lead
to type 2 diabetes. Research indicates that reducing stress can reduce
blood glucose levels almost as much as medications for some people.
Stress can cause you to overeat comfort foods, which are typically high
in fat and sugar and can lead to gastrointestinal upset. It can also impact
the rate at which food moves through your digestive system and cause constipation
or diarrhea. The butterflies you feel in your stomach during short periods
of stress can turn into ulcers and pain when stress becomes chronic.
Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center offers extensive resources for stress management, from emergency care
and stroke care in Las Vegas in times of crisis to behavioral health services
and primary care doctors to manage your symptoms. Request a referral to
a doctor today by calling (702) 880-2700.