Here Are Some Stress-Related Health Problems That You Probably Didn't Know About!
By: Diamond Diwan
Published On: July 13, 2018
Did you know that stress can be a major reason behind serious health issues? Here are some stress-related health problems you probably weren’t aware about…
Picture this- you’re on an icy terrain, face to face with a gorgeous but deadly polar bear. You can see it baring its sharp teeth and the wind around you suddenly seems colder. Your heart beats rapidly, your breath quickens and you can feel your muscles entering the active mode. It’s fight or flight time.
Our primitive ancestors depended on this very process, on what stress does to our body, to stay alive.
But in today’s world the only icy terrain you’ll experience is your fully air-conditioned office and the only deadly animal you’ll square with is the cheetah on your flamin’ hot Cheetos.
Yes, we do not deal with as many life threatening scenarios as we used to when we wore sheepskin and roamed around with our favourite weapon in hand. We deal with many other day to day situations that tend to evoke an equally stressful response.
There are 3 kinds of stress and here’s how they affect you
Acute Stress: Results in anxiety, irritability, sleep problems
If you’re the only friend who is working in a group project, or if your phone lost all contacts and if you’ve ever been 20 minutes late for an interview that you left 10 minutes early for, then you know exactly what acute stress means. It usually occurs on a very low level. Positive stress is called “eustress” and is responsible for calling you out to take action and resolve a said conflict.
However, when acute stress is not resolved and remains a constant, recurring response to dismal problems around you, it gives rise to mental and physical health problems. The physical effects of stress can be severe and shouldn't be ignored.
Anxiety, Irritability, jumpiness and sleep problems are the most common symptoms of acute stress.
Episodic Acute Stress: Are you a Type “A” Personality or ‘The Worrier’?
They are the two main personality types that are frequently present with Episodic Acute Stress.
The Type A personality can be easily spotted out in a crowd. Controlling, hostile, with a sense of time urgency around them? Highly competitive and probably a workaholic? Yep, you’ve spotted them!
Image credit: www.glasbergen.com/Randy Glasbergen
In a study, conducted by Friedman and Rosenman, there is an increased rate of coronary heart diseases in Type A personalities.
Another study showed a clear association between stress and stroke risk. The risk doubled when the patient had a Type A personality. You can read more about it here.
As for our worriers, there are 13 types, each more distinct than the other. A difference between a worrier and a Type A personality is that worriers tend to be more anxious and depressed rather than angry and hostile.
Sir Winston Churchill said, ““When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
Worrying increases use of energy in the orbital cortex which is the underside of the front of the brain. It heats up, working overtime like the laptop you’re binge watching Netflix sitcoms on. The result is your PET scan showing your orbital cortex as well lit as a Hindu’s house on Diwali. It’s hot but at least it’s pretty.
Bruce M. Hyman, Ph.D., and Cherry Pedrick, RN, state some typical cognitive errors of worriers:
- Overestimating risk, harm, and danger
- Overcontrol and perfectionism
- Black-and-white or all-or-nothing thinking
- Persistent doubting
- Magical thinking
- Superstitious thinking
- Intolerance of uncertainty
- Pessimistic bias
- What-if thinking
- Intolerance of anxiety
- Extraordinary cause and effect
Health problems related to Episodic Acute Stress include:
Muscular distress of all kinds from that mild headache that never seems to go away, to back pain, pulled muscles and all sorts of ligament problems.
2) Stomach, gut and bowel problems, heartburns, acid stomach and even diarrhea and constipation.
3) Heart palpitations, chest pains, and migraines.
4) Ineffective immune system leading to a greater chance of catching colds, flu and other allergies.
5) Breathing problems and asthma
In a study conducted in India, 79% expressed that inherent personality traits and an individual’s natural disposition carve out how they respond to stress. In the words of Lou Holtz, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s how you carry it.”
Image credit: Buzzle.com
Here are two quick tips to destress right away
Me time: The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho suggests dancing to get in touch with your inner self. Begin the first hour of your day doing something you love. Like sipping on some hot chai while you’re humming your favourite tune? I have a Type A Personality friend who starts the day by making small to-do lists with brightly coloured pens. Do whatever works for you except checking your phone, or reading the newspaper. The world can wait.
Meditate: It benefits your heart and immune system
Breathe in. Breathe out. Concentrating on your breathing helps you to cancel out the white noise and get a grip on your surroundings. I know your hippie friend might have suggested this a few years back, but it really works! Meditating for 15 minutes every day allows your mind to catch a quick break.
Chronic stress: 50% of corporate India is under chronic stress
It is a pathological state that’s caused when the normal acute physiological stress response is activated for a prolonged amount of time. Chronic stress is the reason behind most major stress related health problems. Individuals suffering from chronic stress believe that they have little to no control of their lives.
So we understand if all workplaces cannot have a fancy recreational room with ping pong tables and sparkling water but having good relationships in the office place works equally well! HR can organize a weekly game event where all coworkers can get a chance to really hit it off. It can be something as simple as playing pictionary!
Having good counsellors can also reduce the mental strain of employees. At the end of the day we all just want somebody to listen.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, chronic stress is not as uncommon as we’d like to believe. As such, its effects are faced by a large part of the population, with insomnia and anxiety reaching an all time high.
Obesity is related to chronic stress as people tend to turn to comfort eating and bingeing on foods high in fat, sugar and calories during stressful times. The stress hormone cortisol is directly linked to metabolism and where the fat is stored.
Quick tip! Place water bottles in all your rooms. Drinking water makes you fuller and less likely to binge whatever comes your way. Also, did someone mention something about clear skin?
How does stress affect mental health you ask? Well, Chronic stress increases the chances of developing depression and even dementia. A WHO report suggests that India is the most depressed country in the world!
Life event stress and chronic stress significantly predicted suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
The first step towards solving a problem is recognizing it. Accept that you’ve got a problem. It’s often found that people with chronic stress, don't take into account the psychological effects of stress, and think of all their symptoms including a weak attention span or mental fatigue or even severe migraines, as a way of life. It becomes much like a toxic relationship that one has gotten old and familiar with and hence refuse to leave.
Furthermore, childhood traumas like extreme poverty and violence contribute to chronic stress and require proper medical care.
Chronic stress includes symptoms of acute as well as episodic stress but on a chronic level which can cause exhaustion of physical as well as mental defenses and lead to suicide, psychosis, violent actions, homicide, heart attacks and strokes.
When we see a loved one (let’s include ourselves in that category too) suffering from stress- of any kind, it’s important to let them know that you’re here for them. Getting a professional opinion is the most recommended option here.
As they say, change begins with you.
We suggest you also read:
If you have any feedback or comments related to this blog, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org