Do you feel like you’re under a lot of stress all the time? It can be wreaking havoc on your life in more ways than you think. Having high levels of stress for an extended period of time can damage both your mental and physical health.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released when you feel a high level of anxiety or fear. It’s part of the “fight or flight” response that releases adrenaline, preparing your body to take on whatever danger is ahead of you. If it’s not released through physical action such as running or fighting, the hormone can build up in your system. If you’re feeling as if you’re constantly under stress, then that hormone is always going to be darting around in your system. The increase in cortisol levels can cause long lasting side effects such as these:
• Damage to your heart. Stress hormones cause your heart rate to increase, and constricts your blood vessels, so your heart has to work harder. If it’s under constant stress, it can damage the muscles. It can also increase the thickness of the artery walls, making your heart work harder than it should.
• Decreased immune system functions, making you more susceptible to illness. Latent infections, such as cold sores, can come back more frequently.
• More risk for developing allergies. Long-term stress can cause the body to produce an immune response against a threat that isn’t there, such as pollen.
• Digestive problems due to increased production of acid in the stomach that can cause indigestion. Stress can also make a person more likely to develop a GI disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome.
• Memory problems. High levels of cortisol can damage the part of the brain that controls memory. If you’re constantly under stress, it can lead to adrenal burnout, which makes the brain shut off that part, making it harder to retain information and recall recent events.
• Lowered bone density, which makes bones brittle, weak and more likely to break. It may also cause joint aches and muscle cramping.
• Increased migraines and tension headaches. The release of cortisol can cause vascular changes in the brain such as muscle tension and dilation of blood vessels that can trigger migraines.
• Low sex drive due to increased production of cortisol and the sex hormone binding globulin, which decreases the amount of testosterone and estrogen that gets to your cells.
• Signs of premature aging such as wrinkles, poor eyesight and weak muscles.
Telomeres, the structures on the ends of chromosomes, are shortened when the body is under stress, and it prohibits new cells from growing as quickly.
• Weight gain. Stress can cause cravings for high fat and high sugar foods, which can make you to pack on the pounds. These types of “comfort” foods tend to inhibit the part of the brain that produces emotions related to stress, so the body craves them in order to counteract stress.
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Does stress cause you to drink excessively or take illegal drugs? Do you want help? Call Legacy Freedom Treatment Center to talk with an admissions counselor about our affordable alcohol and drug rehab in Raleigh NC. We offer customized treatment plans that meet your recovery needs. We don’t believe in a “cookie cutter” approach. The programs that benefit you may not work for someone else. Our holistic treatment options include alternative therapies. You won’t find a more comprehensive rehab program in the Triangle.