Physical Symptoms of Severe Stress

By Tess Thompson

The biological response to stress was developed in humans when our ancestors faced life and death situations. Modern life, however, is more about emotional stress than physical stress. The strange part is that despite the fact that psychological stress is much higher today than in the Stone Age, the human body has not been able to adjust to constant psychological stress.

Constant or severe stress leads to a situation where you are on high alert every time you come across a problem. This happens irrespective of whether it is a simple matter of being late to the office due to a traffic jam or some serious health condition that you are facing. Stress in such conditions is like a fire alarm that is always on and keeps you awake all the time. Hormones released during a stress response bring about physical changes in the body and keep the body tense. Ideally, the body should return to its original normal state after a brief period of stress, but continuous stress and the consequent persistently high level of these hormones cause physical stress symptoms.

It is commonly known is that severe stress causes cardiovascular problems and tension headaches, but the fact is that stress affects your overall health, and various other physical symptoms can appear anywhere in the body. This happens because blood is diverted from the systems that are not necessary for immediate survival towards other organs of the body that need to face the stressor. Over time, the reduction in blood supply to these organs negatively affects these vital organs.

Severe stress has been associated with peptic ulcers, skin problems like hives, asthma, infertility, post menstrual syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and migraines. Severe stress also affects the immune system, and unresolved stress leads to a situation where it starts working against the body instead of protecting it. Chronic stress makes you more vulnerable to opportunistic infections like the common cold, and influenza, and much more.

Some amount of stress is necessary to motivate performance. A stressor by itself does not lead to debilitating symptoms of stress. The strongest evidence in support of this is that the same stressor that brings about a strong stressful reaction from one person may not produce any reaction from another individual. Irrespective of how severe a particular stressor may be, stress is caused only if you consider the stressor to be a problem in your subjective judgment. Managing stress becomes easy if you focus on the positive aspects and shed negativity.


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