Adverse Effects of Stress on the Body

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: General Health, Stress Management
Last Reviewed 02/17/2014

Adverse Effects of Stress on the Body

Stress is an inevitable part of daily life. But if you don’t do anything to relieve stress, in the long run, you will suffer the effects of stress on the body

Sources of Stress

There are many sources of stress, or stressors, that you can encounter in any given day—and over the course of your lifetime. Stressors can be mental, emotional or physical in nature.

It’s also important to recognize that any change that alters the status quo and demands that you adapt to it is a stressor. The change can be positive, such as a long-awaited vacation or the birth of a new baby; or negative, like the loss of a job or the death of a loved one.

Immediate Effects of Stress on the Body

No matter what the source, your body responds to stressors through a process largely controlled by your adrenal glands.

The immediate response to a stressor is the infamous fight-or-flight response. Blood is shunted away from your skin and most internal organs, while your heart and lungs get increased blood. Your breathing rate increases, your liver dumps stored glucose into the bloodstream, and glucose and oxygen are rushed to your brain and muscles.

Effects of Chronic Stress on the Body

The fight-or-flight response is a normal reaction and won’t cause your body any harm in the short term. Chronic stress, however, can seriously undermine your body’s resilience.

When your body remains in a constant state of fight-or-flight, your heart, blood vessels and adrenals are weakened, and your digestive system can get out of whack. Effects of stress on the body include impaired adrenal function, which leads to fatigue and low immune function, and acute infections and fatigue can become chronic.

Cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease are also linked with chronic stress.

More Dr. Whitaker Advice on Optimal Health

Enjoy What You've Just Read?

Get it delivered to your inbox! Signup for E-News and you'll get great content like you've just read along with other great tips and guides from Dr. Whitaker!