5 physical effects of stress that you might not know about

3 October 2020 at 07:43 · 3 min read

A woman with highlighted acne

Stress is swiftly becoming an unfortunate fact of life in the modern world.

The changing face of work in the digital age means that our jobs are increasingly high-pressured. Not only can this lead to a myriad of different mental health problems, but these can in turn lead to physical health problems as well. 

One of the most common disorders along with depression and anxiety is stress. It can have a number of different mental consequences, but you may not know about these physical consequences…


1. Allergies

For those of us that have allergies, stress can cause flare-ups to be significantly worse. In some studies, it was found that even small amounts of extra stress caused comparatively large differences both the duration and severity of an allergic reaction. 


2. Weight gain

Mental disorders can often affect our appetite and hence, our weight. Stress is no different. This isn’t simply related to conditions like ‘stress eating’ either - where people eat compulsively to alleviate the feeling of being stressed. It’s thought that the stress hormone cortisol also makes our bodies process fat differently and causes our metabolism to slow down.


3. Acne

As if allergies and weight gain weren’t enough to dent life quality and self-image, stress can also lead to flare-ups of acne. Rather than mere anecdotal evidence, studies have shown a correlation between external, emotional sources of stress - such as exam pressure - and the incidences of acne.


4. Body Temperature

Sometimes, when talking about different stressful situations, we talk about ‘feeling the heat.’ It turns out this is more than just a turn of phrase. Stressful situations can actually cause some people’s body temperature to rise and make them experience a fever. What's especially interesting is that such fevers are not easily controlled by the typical medicines that we might use to treat a fever from, say, the flu. Instead, it was found that these fevers only reacted to psychological and psychiatric treatments.


5. Chronic conditions - diabetes/asthma

As we’ve seen, stress can have an effect on our entire body, so it should be no surprise to find that it can worsen a variety of chronic medical conditions. Various studies have found that it can help worsen conditions like diabetes, asthma, IBS, various sexual issues, and even sports injuries.

By now it should be clear that someone suffering from stress could be experiencing a number of different effects beyond just stress itself. Not only that but it should be obvious just how much any one of the above issues could pose real problems for people’s personal and professional lives. 

Oftentimes, minor occurrences of stress are something that we can deal with ourselves. Still, it’s only common sense to seek proper psychological help in anything but the simplest of cases. Otherwise, if left unchecked, stress can have a serious detrimental impact on both our physical and mental health. 


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