Woman crying in stress

It won’t be wrong to say that every individual experience stress at some or the other point in life. It is the most natural part of our life in a fast-moving world of today. A moderate amount of stress sometimes is considered healthy.

However, excessive stress can make way for a wide variety of adverse effects on someone’s mind and body. Along with impacting psychologically, research has shown that it can aggravate many functions of the body and even impair the immunity. 

What are the negative effects stress causes on our body?

The reaction of your body to stress is the release of hormones that can alleviate an increase in heart rate and breathing. Here, your body is merely preparing itself to respond quickly to things occurring in the current situation. It can also be a reason for you being short-tempered when someone tries to disrupt you from something important.

When you are stressful day and night, it affects your health negatively. So, to work on your stress management, let us learn the different ways stress can affect your body.

  • The central nervous system gets out of control

The central nervous system plays a direct role in response to stress. When the body is stressed the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) will switch on the “fight or flight” response mode, which changes the body’s gear from energy resource to fighting or fleeing from a life threat.

SNS triggers the release of hormones adrenalin and cortisol. Together the hormones cause increased heart and respiration rate, dilation of blood vessels, increase in the level of glucose and change in the digestive process to deal with the emergency. Chronic stress can result in long-term draining of the body. 

  • It can affect the brain

Your brain can behave in an Alzheimer’s like manner in chronic stress. It concerns an essential structure in mind known as hippocampus that leads to orientation problems and impaired memory.

In one study, scientists studied the flow of blood in the brain when subjects got a stressful task of multitasking. Here, they examined that the executive part of the brain which is used for planning, organizing, executing and reasoning.

They found that it was very active initially but got tired and shut down later on. It gave priority to impulsive and emotional behaviour. Your brain gets affected by transforming the emotions from initial clarity to frustration and confusion.

  • Increase in the rate of blood pressure 

Chronic stress experienced over a prolonged period can contribute towards long term problem in heart and blood vessels. Blood pressure is nothing but the strength at which your heart pumps blood to the rest of your body.

Stress can directly impact the increase in blood pressure levels which can adversely affect your cardiac health and can pose more serious problems. Persistent chronic anxiety and repeated acute stress may result in the inflammation in the circulatory system, mostly in coronary arteries. It is a single pathway that can tie stress to a heart attack.

It is suggested to keep a check on your blood pressure as aggravating it could lead to heart attack and other health issues. It is suggested that you go on regular check-ups and if things seem bad then one must consult a cardiac surgeon.

  • You could get frequent colds

People who encounter recurrent upper respiratory infections and it becomes chronic usually the underlying cause is stress. Often a significant life change that triggers stress in the individual is likely to cause the immune system to weaken.

With this, there is an onset of viral and bacterial infections overpowering your immune system. When people are under severe stress for say a month, they can be at risk of getting cold, but when this stress is for more than six months, they can increase their risk of catching a cold to three times.

  • Uneven levels of glucose

A patient who has diabetes very well knows the glucose levels. Under constant stress, your liver produces extra glucose or blood sugar. It isn’t effortless for you to process this excess blood sugar at a regular rate.

A rise in blood sugar can eventually increase diabetes resulting in the occurrence of fatal events. Therefore, working on stress management can relieve excessive stress levels, which will prove useful like medicine.

  • A rise in asthma attacks and eczema

There are various triggers to eczema and asthma attacks, but often stress is overlooked. With the time constraint providers may often neglect stress as one of the causes of trigger in asthma and eczema.

According to a study by researchers at the University of South California, they have stated that children with household and parents having chronic stress were more prone to asthma than children who lived in a happy household environment. With nearly 2500 children with non-asthma participating in the study, researchers saw 50 percent of children were likely to get asthma than the ones whose parents were not stressed.

  • Irregularity in periods

Many women experience irregular periods due to various issues like childbirth, menopause, birth control, etc. but when you are not having any of these issues and are still experiencing irregularity, then stress is the main culprit.

Stress can cause an imbalance in the hormonal levels, which can increase or decrease the flow of period blood. You can also experience a delayed period or early arrival of your next cycle of periods. Both these occurrences are not healthy and must be attended.

Some women who are under elevated stress for a long time can also witness a skip in the period of one cycles or 2-3 cycles altogether. Consult your doctor at once if you experience this before the onset of menopause.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Stress can also affect gastrointestinal disorders. It contributes to constipation, diarrhoea, and acid reflux. It can be very uneasy for someone with this symptom to move around. It is essential to take control of your gastrointestinal tract by managing the stress level that triggers it.

Irritable bowel syndrome tends to increase if not attended to in its initial stage. It restricts the mobility of the person affected.

Bottom Line

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are various ways by which you can manage your stress. To name a few, you can be observant, exercise regularly, set goals, go for relaxing activities, and most importantly talk to a health care provider. Make sure to be vigilant towards these signs of stress and take expert guidance to overcome them.


  • Michelle has a masters in human psychology and a diploma in biology. She is actively involved in writing about the health and lifestyle issues faced by people. She has been helping people in building a healthier lifestyle and has been working with non-profit organizations for almost a decade.