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How Stress Affects Your Body

How Stress Affects Your Body

How Prolonged Exposure to Stress Impacts Your Health

Whether you’ve gotten nervous before a big test at school or presentation at work, chances are you’ve felt some of the short-term physical and emotional effects of stress. While it’s normal to experience elevated levels of stress every now and again, having too much stress in your life can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health.

How Stress Hormones Affect Your Body

When your body realizes you are in a potentially dangerous situation, your “fight or flight” response is triggered, which happens when the body releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Once these hormones hit your bloodstream, you may experience an increase in your strength, reaction time, and your ability to concentrate.

While these hormonal responses may be helpful in potentially dangerous situations, they negatively impact various areas of your health when your body is in a constant state of stress.

Mental Health

When there is a continuous strain on your body, and you are unable to manage your stress levels, your mental health can seriously suffer. You become at a higher risk of developing mental health issues like anxiety and depression, and can even exacerbate the symptoms associated with preexisting mental illnesses

Sleep Patterns

The quality of sleep you get each night is directly linked to the levels of stress in your life. If your body is under high levels of stress for a prolonged period of time, your sleeping schedule may suffer. Unfortunately, if you don’t get enough sleep, your stress levels will also elevate.

Digestive Health

When the body is exposed to chronic stress, it can cause pain, bloating, and even muscle spasms throughout the digestive system, impacting the throat, stomach, and bowels. High amounts of stress for prolonged periods can also affect your gastrointestinal tract in the following ways:

  • Trouble swallowing foods.
  • Increased gassiness and burping.
  • Bloating.
  • Vomiting.
  • Changes in gut bacteria.
  • Higher risk of developing ulcers.
  • Stomach and bowel cramping,
  • Issues with digestion and absorption.

Sexual Health

When you experience chronic stress, it can also have a negative impact on various areas of your sexual health. Not only is it possible for you to experience a decreased sex drive, you may also experience the following issues:

  • Fertility issues
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Missed periods
  • More vulnerable to infection

When to Seek Help

The isolation from not being around friends and family has had an impact on everyone’s mental health. Behavioral Health Services has providers who work with people of all ages for a variety of problems, from depression and anxiety to coping with stress. We can work with each client to make visits affordable, and also offer telephone or virtual visits using a cell phone, tablet or computer. Call 307-688-5000 for an appointment, and visit www.cchwyo.org/bhs to learn more.