Beyond the feeling of ill-being that one can feel when one is stressed, the consequences on health are not negligible. Daily stress that lasts over time can cause problems on the heart level, dermatological, or increase the risk of chronic diseases!
What is stress?
Stress is inevitable for everyone. A true natural reaction of the body, it can affect the psychological and physical balance. When faced with unforeseen events or important changes, stress helps us become aware of a danger that threatens us. Even if this fear is irrational or imaginary, the triggered stress causes certain bodily reactions that last from a few minutes to several days or weeks:
- sleep and appetite disturbances
- muscle contractions (especially in the neck or back)
- decreased libido
- memory impairment
- concentration disorders
What are the causes of stress?
As stress comes in response to a situation, it is normal that we are not all equal in the face of it, each of us being unique. Nevertheless, it can be said that the main stressors are generally external:
- stress related to work (or studies): related to performance, work atmosphere, management methods or boredom (which leads to burn-out, bore-out or brown-out)
- difficulties in his personal life: managing children, overwork, financial problems (which can lead to depression or even depression)
- apprehension of an event: it is a question here of a “good” stress which, by releasing adrenaline, allows us to increase our physical and psychic capacities
- post-traumatic stress : aftermath of a traumatic event
- relationship difficulties: this is a stress experienced by people who are shy and / or uncomfortable at the idea of speaking in public (for example during speeches, lunches with colleagues, etc.) .
Who is affected by stress?
In 2017, a survey carried out by Opinion Way for the Ramsay General Health Foundation , showed that stress already affected no less than 89% of the inhabitants of France. Since then, our society has been hit by a global pandemic: the Covered survey has revealed totally alarming figures concerning the state of stress of the French.
How to explain these symptoms?
The body is programmed to react in two ways when faced with a stressful situation: fight or flee. This archaic response is explained by our prehistoric past and the hostile environment in which we have evolved for thousands of years. Our autonomic nervous system allows hormones to provide a short-term response by triggering. This is independent of any voluntary control.
She allows to :
- reduce blood sugar levels to use all the energy needed
- send blood to the muscles to be ready to run or fight
- maintain an attitude of hyper vigilance to the slightest stimuli.
Thanks to this adrenaline rush, the body is able to increase its mental and physical strength tenfold. Nonetheless, it is a very costly operating state in terms of energy that is exhausting in the long run. This is why at the first signs, it is important to talk to a doctor in order to put in place solutions – sometimes natural.
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What happens in case of chronic stress?
This hormone, also produced by the adrenal gland, breaks down the proteins contained in the muscles to produce the energy needed by the body. This degradation results in:
- an increase in blood sugar, but also triglycerides and cholesterol
- A decrease in the effectiveness of the immune system.
The more stress sets in, the more cortisol production worsens the state of anxiety, depression and can even impair memory and learning capacities. This stage is described as the “phase of exhaustion” when the organism is overwhelmed and the reactions are no longer adapted to the demands of the environment.
Do you want to know how to manage your chronic stress? Discover our dedicated article where Claire Lewandowski, psychiatrist, gives you advice on how to fight it better.
What are the consequences of long-term stress?
When stress persists and no action has been taken to reduce it on a daily basis, it can lead to real health problems which depend on the predispositions and antecedents of each individual:
- certain digestive diseases such as colopathy , gastritis or peptic ulcers
- certain cardiovascular disorders such as palpitations, high blood pressure , angina pectoris or even myocardial infarction
- certain dermatological diseases such as eczema, psoriasis , hair loss, or itching
- some recurrent infections such as herpes
- certain gynecological disorders such as late or missing periods.
What to do to fight your stress?
To prevent the occurrence of physical illnesses linked to long-term stress, it is essential to take care of yourself through a healthy lifestyle and relaxation activities such as meditation, yoga, coprology, hypnosis. In certain cases, the prescription of a beta-blocker type anxiolytic may be considered. It is less harmful and more effective on physical symptoms than psychotropic drugs from the benzodiazepine family, which potentially have side effects.