Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Yet if your stress response doesn’t stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary for survival, it can take a toll on your health. Chronic stress can affect your overall well-being.
One of the common effects of stress on our health is stress can negatively impact on our brain. It causes problems associated with learning and concentration ability. Besides this, chronic stress is not good for the long-term health of your brain. According to Reader’s Digest Canada , Neural stem cells in the hippocampus, a structure important for learning and memory typically develop into neurons. But under chronic stress, these stem cells instead become oligodendrocytes, which coat neurons with an insulating material called myelin. The resulting excess of myelin perturbs the balance of communication and timing within the brain’s circuitry. These changes can affect cognitive function, including changes in learning, memory, and emotional well-being(Kimberly Hiss, n.d.).
Moreover, people with chronic stress have a greater stroke risk. Stress hormones increase blood pressure, and when those hormones are around long-term, it can lead to high blood pressure, the leading cause of stroke.These stress hormones are also known to lead to diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart disease which are all stroke risk factors. And lastly, smoking is a common coping mechanism for dealing with stress and it’s also one of the leading causes of stroke. more than 6,700 adults aged 45 to 84 filled out questionnaires about psychological factors, including stress and depression. At follow-up 8 ½ to 11 years later, those who scored highest were 59 per cent more likely to have suffered a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) if they had reported experiencing chronic stress caused by problems such as health, money, and relationships(Kimberly Hiss, n.d.).
Lastly, Stress could trigger depression. Stress can suppress the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus. That's a part of the brain that's shown to be smaller in some depressed people.It is also noted that in some people, chronic inflammation appears to play a role in the onset of depression. And chronic inflammation, can be caused by chronic stress. Stress, or being stressed out, leads to behaviors and patterns that in turn can lead to a chronic stress burden and increase the risk of major depression(Shira Feder,2020).
By now, we already know several complications that can be caused by chronic stress to our body. It is important for us to be aware of our mental health and seek for treatment if you feel stress for a long period of time as it could trigger many health problems and will negatively affect our overall well being. Getting early treatment to recover from chronic stress will make the process even easier and short.
Hiss, K. (n. d.) .The Scary Things That Happen To Your Brain When You’re Stressed – and How to Calm Down. Reader’s Digest Canada. Retrieved from https://www.readersdigest.ca/health/healthy-living/effects-of-stress-brain/
Shira Feder.(2020). 9 ways that stress messes with your body — and what you can do about it.Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/health-effects-of-stress-2017-8
Flint Rehab.(2019). Can Stress Cause a Stroke?. Retrieved from https://www.flintrehab.com/2019/can-stress-cause-a-stroke/