It can start early in the morning when you get stuck in rush hour traffic. It only becomes exacerbated at work. Then back home at night dealing with your children’s travails of the day. It is stress. And it is present in almost all of our lives. What are the consequences of this widespread stress? How does stress effect health?
Stress can have serious effects on both our mental and physical health. These manifestations can take immediate effect, or they can be delayed in their impact. The most salient example of the latter is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The most commonimmediate effects are increased blood pressure and rapid heartbeat.
So widespread is the problem, that studies have shown a substantial majority of both doctor’s office visits as well as serious maladies can at least partially be attributed to underlying stress. Seeing the magnitude of the problem, we are well served to fully explore and understand how stress impacts our overall health.
A large part of the problem is that stress can exist without respite creating conditions which are always present. These are referred to as chronic conditions. Some, including high blood pressure, are especially nefarious resulting in very serious consequences. There are many contributors to high blood pressure including those relating to diet, but stress is high on the list.
Most of the physical manifestations of stress which result in adverse health effects relate to the body’s production of adrenaline. This hormone serves to prepare the body for any potential danger. One’s senses are heightened, the heart pumps blood and the oxygen it contains faster, and the pupils change to allow sharper vision.
When appropriate, this bodily response can save your life. However, when triggered by the stresses of everyday life it can be deadly. High blood pressure has been tied to heart disease, stroke and other potentially life threatening events. Adrenaline can be helpful and of course exciting, but it can also be a deadly enemy.
In addition to physical effects, stress can have significant mental health impacts. Everyone reading this knows that stress does not ordinarily coincide with happiness. Stress limits one’s patience, causes sudden mood changes, and serves to disrupt both family and work relationships. These effects can prove to be equally detrimental as physical ones.
It is present, and will most probably remain so, among all of us. As the world more emerges into the technological age, it is projected stress will rear its head all over the developing world to match the levels seen in America. Many more will be asking the question of how does stress effect health.