What Are The Health Effects Of Stress On The Body

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
What Are The Health Effects Of Stress On The Body

Stress is a normal physiological response to a difficult or dangerous situation. Humans have evolved to develop a stress response to adequately deal with a stressful situation. Your body reacts to stress by increasing your heart and breathing rates. In small amounts, stress is healthy and drives us to act. Stress becomes problematic when it becomes chronic. Not only is chronic stress mentally dehabilitating, it causes physiological changes to your body that can cause serious physical effects. In this OneHowTo article, you'll discover what the effects of stress are on the body.

Steps to follow:

Stress on the body causes a "fight or flight" response, a completely natural reaction that is a basic survival instinct. Chemicals are secreted that prepare the body to either fight or run away. What happens is that your heart rate and breathing rate increase, blood leaves your digestive system and goes to the muscles, preparing them for action, your pupils dilate, and your muscles begin to tense.

The Central Nervous System is the one in charge for that "fight or flight" response. When something happens, the Central Nervous System tells your body what to do. When the danger has passed, the Central Nervous System should tell your body to go back to normal. However, if you're under stress, your nervous system is always under alert, and this has consequences on your whole body. Some of the symptoms of chronic stress are irritability, anxiety and depression. You might also suffer headaches and insomnia.


Stress affects the digestive system. When you're under stress, your body produces more blood sugar. This rise in the levels of glucose is good at given times, but if you're continuously under stress, your body might not be able to manage all this glucose. This might lead to developing type 2 diabetes.

Stress can also affect your digestions and you might experience vomiting, nausea or stomachache. It also affects the way food is digested and it may cause diarrhea or constipation.


When you're stressed your muscles tend to tense up in order to protect themselves from injuries. Constant stress makes your muscles tense all the time, which can lead to back and shoulder pain and limb aches.


Being under stress is very tiring for both the body and the mind, so it is usual to feel that you're losing desire for sex.

In women, stress can also affect the menstrual cycle, having irregular and painful menstruations.


Experiencing stress for long periods of time is not healthy. About 75-90% of visits to the doctor in the US are due to stress-related disorders. Chronic stress can lead to general ill health and weakening of the immune system. It is an underlying factor to many illnesses, and causes a large burden on the healthcare system.


Your body is meant to experience a stress response seldomly, and serious problems arise when stress is experienced throughout the day, every day. Studies have shown that chronic stress plays an important role in the development and worsening of many diseases and conditions, including:


If stress is taking over your life, it is important that you know that there are ways to manage it. In our article How to manage stress and anxiety, we offer a few tips on decreasing your stress level. If your stress is causing you to lose sleep, and is standing in the way of you enjoying your life, it is important that you take the necessary steps to reduce it.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Are The Health Effects Of Stress On The Body, we recommend you visit our Mental health category.

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What Are The Health Effects Of Stress On The Body
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