The Effects of Stress on Health

The effects of stress on our health have not been established. However, many believe that there are certain sicknesses that are brought about by stress. Ulcer is just one of the many sicknesses said to be influenced by stress. Recent studies, however, suggest that ulcers are actually influenced by genetic factors combined with certain stomach viruses. The studies contradict the idea that stress causes rapid increase in the production of acid in the stomach, which then intensifies discomfort.

Nevertheless, further studies are coming up with more evidences that stress strongly influences a person’s health. Among the obvious effects to individuals include headache, severe muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, intermittent digestion, just to name a few. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is believed to have more serious and long-term effects on health.

Studies conducted at the National Institutes of Health and other reports suggest that stress affects the immune system in both positive and negative ways.

The positive effect of stress is that it triggers the release of certain biochemical that is helpful in the treatment of infections caused by insect or animal bites, punctures or other injuries. This reaction validates one definition of stress -- a person’s acute stress response to a perceive threat. This is also manifested in the human evolution. The immune system has been customized to deal with survival.

On the other hand, when stress persists for longer periods of time, it can no longer produce positive effects, but rather, negative ones. Our body’s immune system becomes less effective over time. As stress persists, our body will need to produce more biochemical to help us heal. However, these chemicals can also diminish and when that happens, we become more susceptible to infection and our resistance to colds and other virus induced sicknesses will also drop.

Over fatigue and at times depression are often caused by stress. As a person experiences prolonged stress, he also develops a belief that there is nothing to be done about the situation. He becomes anxious and frustrated. This will then result to depression.

Chronic stress also has more severe impact on health affecting particularly the circulatory system. This happens when stress hormones are released during the fight and flight episode and yet the hormones are not used up through physical activities. This results to psychological stress.

High blood pressure adds up to tension on the walls of the blood vessels. As a response to this tension, the body reacts to micro-tears that are sometimes produced causing scar tissue. This affects the smooth flow of the blood. Now, when this condition persists, heart attack can occur. The narrowing of the blood vessels hinders the heart from delivering adequate amount of blood and oxygen in times when they are most needed. Stress is also known for many years now to worsen the condition of rheumatoid arthritis.

The examples given only prove how stress affects health, especially the immune system. To stay healthy, we all have to protect ourselves from the negative effects of stress by doing activities that help relieve it. Our health is also dependent on how we allow stress to stay in our life. Therefore, we must adapt certain philosophies that could help us reduce stress. It is a choice we have to make for our well-being.