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International Stress Management Association United States

How Does Stress Impact Your Health?

Stress significantly impacts both mental and physical health. Stress affects people of all ages, and it is becoming more widespread and far reaching. Research shows that it is more prevalent among adults ages 18-47 than those of older generations. Among this age group, stress is perceived as higher than what is acceptable in terms of good health. In addition, as the world changes stress continues to be a large factor on a person's health.

Stress often triggers automatic responses in the body, the same responses that used to keep people safe from dangerous predators or situations. When alarmed, the body will jump into a "fight or flight" response triggering the release of hormones which will cause the heart rate and blood pressure to rise, create tension in the muscles and result in quickened, heavy breathing. Although this response was quite effective when stress was caused by predators and dangerous situations it does little to help deal with stress situations of today such as traffic jams, deadlines, unemployment or uneasy social situations.

If you're stressed, you can see it through many different body signals. You can see signs of stress in emotional responses such as feelings of anger, irritation, depression, and loneliness. It can also be manifest in physiological responses such as headaches, neck and back pain, sweating and weight loss or gain. If stress is left unchecked, it will hinder your ability to live a normal life and eventually have significant health consequences.

Chronic stress can have much greater effect on your overall health if you are not able to cope with it. Stress can make existing conditions worse as well as cause disease or increase your risk for disease. Untreated chronic stress can lead to serious health problems such as anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Studies have also indicated that chronic stress can increase weight gain, which contributes to the growing obesity epidemic. Chronic stress is also linked to major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity. If left untreated or unmanaged chronic stress can lead to appalling consequences for one's health.

For more information on the effects of stress and health, the following websites provide excellent reviews:

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