Can Stress Cause These Common Symptoms

can stress cause

We all experience periods of heightened stress from time to time. These stress-filled chapters of life may be due to money problems, work-related stress, or parenting stress. Most of these stressful phases are short-lived and will resolve in a timely manner.

But, what about chronic stress? Studies show that experiencing high levels of stress for a prolonged period can have damaging effects on our mental health and our physical health. Can stress cause stroke, heart attacks, and seizures? Yes, as well as many other ailments. Read on to learn about the many health problems caused by stress.

How Stress Affects Us

When we experience stress, tension, or anxiety, it causes a chemical reaction to occur in our body. In response to this emotional excitability, the brain and sympathetic nervous system release the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. This is referred to as the “fight or flight” response.

When we feel stressed out, we experience muscle tension, a racing pulse, sweating, and palpitations. We may struggle to concentrate or to sleep at night. Now, imagine if this condition is in a never-ending loop.

Long-term exposure to stress can overwhelm the body’s ability to process the excess cortisol and other stress hormones. This elevated cortisol can wreak havoc on your gut, your metabolic health, and your heart. It can also increase the risk of developing anxiety disorder or depression, as well as affect cognitive functions.

Health Conditions Caused By Stress

When the body is in a constant state of fight or flight, the risk of developing a range of health problems is increased. Here are just some of the health conditions caused by stress:

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  • Vertigo – Can stress cause vertigo or dizziness? Yes, the cortisol produced by excessive stress or anxiety can cause dysfunction in the vestibular (inner ear) system.
  • Strokes – Prolonged stress can cause a stroke because prolonged levels of elevated cortisol raise blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Seizures – Stress resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder or abuse is a known factor in pseudo-seizures or PNES. PNES shares many of the same characteristics as seizures.
  • Nausea – Can stress cause nausea and vomiting? Stress-induced nausea results from the flood of stress hormones that set off the fight or flight response.
  • Anemia – Stress can lead to anemia, or low hemoglobin, by causing deficiencies in vitamins B12, C, magnesium, and folate. This causes disruption in the gut and prevents the absorption of nutrients, leading to reduced red blood cell production.
  • Heart Attacks –Chronic stress can lead to inflammation in the arteries and plaque buildup, as well as hypertension. These are all related to cardiovascular disease and may result in a heart attack.
  • Nosebleeds – Stress may cause hypertension, which can increase blood flow throughout the body, including the nose.
  • Gastrointestinal distress – Chronic stress can cause abdominal pain, cramping, an imbalance of gut bacteria, or diarrhea.
  • Boils – Stress causes the skin to become dry and more brittle, which makes it vulnerable to staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which causes boils.
  • Heartburn – Stress can cause increased stomach acid, which may lead to heartburn. Also, people may eat rich foods when they are stressed, which can also cause heartburn.

While stress can have a direct impact on your health, those effects can be worsened by the way you deal with the stress.

How Stress Affects Mental Health

Can stress cause problems with your mental health as well? Absolutely! When you are under stress for a prolonged period, it can really affect your emotional state. Here are some of the ways that stress impacts mental health:

  • Moodiness. You find yourself experiencing frequent mood swings.
  • Trouble sleeping. When you are stressed out, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, as you worry about your problems.
  • Changes in eating habits. Stress can make you lose your appetite, or it can cause stress eating. Either of these can lead to rapid weight changes.
  • Somatic symptoms. When under a lot of stress it is common to experience frequent headaches, muscle tension, or gastrointestinal distress.
  • Irritability. When we are stressed out we are likely to be irritable, agitated, and less patient.

When stress becomes so bad that it causes impairment in functioning, it is likely to be generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is the most common form of anxiety and features excessive worry, fear, and dread. It also may cause racing thoughts, insomnia, racing heart, irrational fear, sweating, and irritability.

5 Ways to Reduce Stress

If you are struggling with prolonged stress, try some of these relaxation techniques:

  1. Yoga. Yoga is a peaceful, quiet form of exercise that can reduce muscle tension, lower cortisol levels, and induce a calm state.
  2. Breathwork. Deep breathing can quickly calm down your stress levels, as it lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
  3. Daily walks. Taking a brisk walk can spur the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These brain chemicals are natural stress reducers.
  4. Guided meditation. These are apps that offer soothing narratives that lead you on a peaceful mental journey, causing a deeply restful state.
  5. Essential oils. Try rose, lavender, chamomile, or ylang-ylang oils in a diffuser or a topical solution to reduce stress and anxiety.

Stress and Anxiety Treatment Solutions

If you have tried all the holistic methods and have not found relief in your stress levels, you will benefit from a mental health treatment program. These programs are available in many forms, such as retreats, outpatient treatment, or residential treatment. Once your symptoms are assessed, you will be guided toward the best level of care.

Mental Health Hope Guides You Toward Treatment for Anxiety Disorder

Mental Health Hope is a online source of support for mental health support and guidance. If you’re asking, “Can stress cause illness?” and have symptoms of stress-related health problems, please reach out to us. Call us today at (877) 967-9274.

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