Health Effects of Stress

People with severe stress in their life have more health concerns than most people. Stress has proved to have a negative effect on the bodys immune system. The relationship between stress and certain autoimmune diseases can swing both ways.

Some patients have shown an improvement and others have shown a definite worsening in their health while under stress. Over-all stress has a negative influence on the over-all health of stressed-out individuals.

The weakening of the immune system can cause an increased susceptibility to infection. It may also hinder the effectiveness of immunizations. This is a scary thought when we think of the many diseases that have been erased because of the discovery of vaccines.

Infections and Stress

A stressed individual will have a higher risk of infections and may catch colds or the flu more often than another person. If that person does get sick, stress may make the symptoms more intense and the cold or flu may last longer.

Another more serious finding is that men who have the HIV virus progress more rapidly to full-blown AIDS when they are under chronic stress. Herpes flare-up after a stressful period in the patients life.

It didnt shock me to learn the two main causes of stress that lead to the higher incidence of infectious diseases are marriage and work conflicts.

Studies have not supported the claim that stress can cause cancer, but studies do suggest that lack of control over stress has a negative effect on the immune system and allows cancer tumors to grow faster. Support groups have proven to be effective in reducing stress in terminal cancer patients and improving survival rates.

Eating Issues

Eating problems are worsened when a person is stressed. It has different effects on different people. Some may stop eating altogether and lose weight in an unhealthy manner. Stress caused weight loss goes with bad nutrition that can lead to a whole other set of problems. Stress is often related to weight gain and obesity.

When stressed, many people have cravings for fat, salt, and sugar. They use food to offset stress and gain weight. Even if people stay on a healthy eating plan they may still gain weight just because they are exposed to stress.

Weight gain for stressed people is usually in the abdomen, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart problems. The stress hormone, cortisol, promotes abdominal fat and may be the major reason people who are stressed gain weight.

Sleep Problems

Pain and sleep disturbances are caused by excessive stress. Scientists have proven stress may intensify the pain felt by patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Psychological distress also intensifies back pain. Emotional stress has been associated with depression and depression caused back pain.

Headaches, especially tension headaches are strongly associated with stressful events and stress. The headache may remain even after the stressful event is older. A study suggests that women who experience migraines have personalities that over-respond to stressful situations. Those who suffer from severe pain should look at the emotional affects that stress is having in their life.