Everyone knows that chronic stress is bad. But just how bad can it be? The long-term effects of chronic stress can be quite damaging. If you’re constantly stressed, it not only impacts how long you live, but also the quality of your life. Here’s how.
1.Prolonged Stress Leads to Memory Loss
In a study involving mice, Ohio State University researchers found a relationship between prolonged stress and short-term memory. The study found that the hippocampus was the body’s hub of emotional response and memory.
2. Promotes Spread of Cancer through the Lymphatic System
The study found that when the stress hormone norepinephrine is released, it travels to the lymph nodes and triggers the release of a second stress hormone, corticosterone. This, in turn, fertilizes the lymphatic system, which helps cancer cells to spread.
The researchers say that chronic stress can not only increase the number of lymphatic vessels draining from a tumor, but also increase the flow in existing vessels.
Scientists found that by using the drug propranolol, they were able to block the action of the stress hormone adrenaline in mice. The drug works by stopping stress hormones from remodeling lymph vessels in the tumor, which reduces the risk of cancer spreading through the lymph nodes.
The team is now conducting a pilot study of women with breast cancer to see if treatment with propranolol can reduce the risk of tumors spreading to other parts of the body.
3. The Stress you are Experiencing is Causing Your Face to Age More Quickly
Look no further than your face to see the damage stress can do:
- It shows up in dark circles and bags under your eyes. That’s because the under-eye capillaries are fragile and break up under stress. Waking up to puffy eyes is a result of stress causing fluid to pool below the eyes.
- Wrinkles appear in lines between the eyes, on the forehead, around the mouth and under the eyes.
- Itching and hives are the result of inflammation from stress.
- Teeth grinding is another sign of stress.
- Hair loss can result from stress.
- Stress also causes adult acne.
- Skin takes on a dull, dry appearance. Chronic stress triggers a constant flow of cortisol, which, in turn, may cause a dip in estrogen. This can then result in a dull and dry appearance in the skin.
4. Workplace Stress Has Been Linked to Changes In Personality
The London School of Economics and Political Science has released new research indicating that individuals who experience chronic stress at work may see changes in their personality over time.
The study found that workers who felt excessive stress in the workplace were more likely to be neurotic. They became more worried and irritable, and less extroverted.
The students who slept less also appeared to be more shy and spoke less frequently. On the contrary, employees who said they had more authority over their work reported enhancements in appealing character traits such as friendliness, teamwork, and innovation.
5. Increased Stress and May Cause Heart Attacks
Losing a loved one is an understandably stressful event. The effects of grief can be very hard on a person, with high levels of stress leading to an increased risk of developing an irregular heartbeat.
During the first 12 months after a loss, the risk is greatest. The condition atrial fibrillation, not only increases the chances of having a stroke, but also heart failure, which could be fatal.
Aarhus University in Denmark conducted research that was published in the UK medical journal Open Heart. The risk is heightened when the partner’s death is unexpected.
Atrial fibrillation is a condition that affects about one million people in the UK. It becomes more common as the person gets older. Approximately 7% of people over the age of 65 are affected by it.
6. Increased Weight Gain
Betatrophin is a protein that blocks an enzyme that breaks down body fat, called adipose triglyceride lipase. Betatrophin is a hormone that causes the body to store fat. Chronic stress can cause the body to produce betatrophin, a hormone that causes the body to store fat, according to researchers at the University of Florida Health.
The results of their study showed that it is harder to break down body fat when a person is under a lot of stress for a long period of time.
7. Prolonged Stress can Lead to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The hormone cortisol is responsible for helping the body regulate stress. When cortisol levels are low, patients may experience more severe fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating and complex disorder that does not improve with bed rest and may get worse with mental or physical activity. The CDC researchers found that people with CFS have less cortisol overall during the first hour after they wake up, which is one of the body’s most stressful times.
While the exact cause of CFS is unknown, it is believed to be the result of a dysfunction in the normal systems of the body that help manage stress.
8. Being under a lot of stress for a long period of time increases your risk for having cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes.
The study found that stress may not only be the result of adversity, but may also be an important cause of disease.
9. Suffering from depression, anxiety, digestive or sleep problems for an extended period of time can be attributed to stress.
Chronic stress has been linked to an ever-growing list of problems as researchers learn more about its effects.
Long-term stress can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, memory loss, weight gain, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cancer. It can also make existing problems worse, such as depression, anxiety, digestive issues, and sleep problems.
If you are experiencing high levels of stress or have been diagnosed with chronic stress, it is important to take action. Change your habits. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, professional help can give you the tools to manage it so it doesn’t take over your life.
Some behavioral and lifestyle changes that only last a short amount of time can have a huge impact on the quality and duration of your life.
If you experience too much stress, it will eventually negatively impact your mood. If you’re not able to manage your stress, it will increase and eventually lead to depression.
Depression is a severe condition that can result in persisting fatigue, isolation, and suicidal thoughts. Since that is the case, it is essential that you learn how to conquer your depression.
10. Immune Deficiencies
Long-term stress can lead to immune deficiencies. The immune system is important because it is the body’s first line of defense against disease and illness.
Your body’s immune system will be depleted when it becomes exhausted. You are much more likely to contract a serious illness or disease if you do not get vaccinated. If you are ill, it is more challenging for your body to recuperate.
If you are frequently experiencing stress hives, colds, or other illnesses, this may be a sign that your immune system is not functioning properly. You should watch for these signs and visit the doctor if you feel like it is too much.
11. Stress can Lead to Sleep Issues
Stress makes it harder to sleep well. Sleep is absolutely pertinent to your health. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you will have a lot of problems.
This means that you will be sleepy and not able to think clearly. You will feel tired in the afternoon, even though you have only been up for half the day. You’ll feel weaker, less alert, and more lethargic if you don’t get enough sleep.
Remember, sleep is the time when your body recharges. If you’re constantly stressed, your productivity will suffer.
12. Increased Anger
Stress can cause you to feel angry and frustrated. If you don’t do something about your stress, it’ll keep building and getting worse. Eventually, this will lead to intense anger.
If you are unable to control your anger, you will eventually take it out on your friends and family. If you’re not careful, you could damage your closest relationships.
Stress has a major long-term effect of causing anger. One way to improve your mood is to be aware of how you react to people.
Do you notice you’ve been snappy towards certain people? Or maybe you’ve been rude for no apparent reason. If behaving in that manner is not in your normal character, it may be a sign that you are taking your stress out on those around you and you need to find a way to better cope with your stress.
13. Weight Loss
Many people believe that stress causes weight gain, because it is often followed by an episode of overeating as a way to cope. Stress weight loss is very common, especially when it is caused by long-term stress.
When you’re stressed, you might not feel like eating or you might forget to eat altogether.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you might think that losing a few pounds would be a good thing. But if that weight loss is due to stress, it’s a different story. The weight you’re losing isn’t just unhealthy fat. When you’re not getting enough sleep, your body isn’t able to properly function. This can lead to a loss of muscle and a deficiency in nutrients.
This means that it causes you to look and feel unhealthy.
14. Alcohol Abuse or Excessive Drinking
There are many people around the world who deal with stress in unhealthy ways. One of the most common problems is people drinking alcohol excessively. People who fit into the category of being at risk for developing chronic diseases should be aware that alcohol is not good for their health.
If you drink too much alcohol, it can have negative effects on your mental and physical health. If you drink too much alcohol, it can be fatal. So be careful.
When people feel overwhelmed by stress, they often withdraw from others and become isolated. If this doesn’t seem like a big problem at first, it can become a major issue.
When you’re isolated, you’re cut off from social interaction, which can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. The reason it is used as a form of punishment is because it is considered bad.
We need other people to survive and thrive.
Try talking to a friend when you are feeling stressed about something important. Even if you haven’t spoken to the person in a while, reach out. You don’t have to go into the details of your stressors to have coffee with someone and significantly improve your mood.
16. Increased Headaches
Most people will experience headaches at some time in their lives. Just remember that some headaches are natural. Some illnesses are caused by internal factors, while others are caused by external factors such as stress.
If you are feeling stressed, you are also more likely to get headaches more often.
Headaches that are caused by stress can become worse over time and can turn into migraines. Migraines will have a negative impact on your life and decrease your quality of life.
If you frequently experience headaches or migraines, it is advisable to see a doctor for a checkup.
17. Decreased Libido
If you’ve been exposed to stress for a long period of time, you may have noticed that your libido isn’t as strong as it used to be. If your partner is not as interested in intimacy as they typically are, stress may be the cause.
Studies have shown that long-term stress can have a serious negative impact on your sex drive. A change in menstrual cycle is another potential side effect for women. Although it may seem counterintuitive, engaging in sexual activity can actually help to reduce stress levels. So in a way, it’s a double-edged sword.
When you are trying to identify your stressors, it is helpful to have a supportive partner. Alternatively, if your partner is the one who is stressed, offer them your support.
The lack of desire is not due to either party not wanting the other person. The headaches you’re experiencing are most likely due to the stress you’re under.
18. Drug Abuse
Some people turn to alcohol when they’re stressed. Some people resort to drugs like heroin and opioids in order to cope with their problems. This is equally bad, if not worse.
If you become addicted to a serious drug, it is likely that you will have a terrible experience. The most positive outcome that can happen is that you’ll eventually be able to stop taking the drugs, but you will then have to face the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
The worst possible outcome of taking opioids is suffering from an overdose. Turning to drugs is not a healthy way to cope with stress.
19. Suicidal Thoughts
There are many people who suffer from stress but do not know how to cope with it. This makes them act badly. Some people get angry at others, while others will get angry at themselves. If you fit into this category, your stress may eventually cause you to feel suicidal.
This is a dangerous situation that needs to be fixed immediately. Otherwise, your life might be cut drastically short. If you’re struggling with negative thoughts, it’s important to seek professional help.
While this list might seem long, don’t be alarmed. Though it is important to be aware of all the symptoms of stress, it is possible to mitigate them by taking steps to manage your stress levels.
Remember that you will be able to get through whatever is stressing you out at the moment, whether it’s financial worries, school, or big changes like having a baby.