- by Dr Savita Kalgaonkar
- 1 Shares
- Jan 23 2018
STRESS AND LIFESTYLE DISEASES – YOUR STRESS COULD BE KILLING YOU
We are living in a world where we are surrounded with dangerous levels of stress. However, instead of preventing stress, we keep feeding it by developing bad habits such as drinking, smoking and having an unhealthy diet.
WHAT IS STRESS?
In the medical or biological context, stress is a physical, mental or emotional event that causes physical or mental tension, or both. Stressors can be external (environment, psychological or social) or internal (illness or disease).
HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT US?
Stress doesn’t only make you feel bad but poses some major health risks. Our body reacts to stress by pumping adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream to prepare the mind and body for immediate action. However, chronic stress exposes the body to a constant flow of cortisol that causes a drastic increase in inflammation, thus posing serious health risks. These health conditions are classified as “lifestyle diseases” – diseases linked with and a result of the manner in which people live their lives.
STRESS & LIFESTYLE DISEASES
Let’s look at some lifestyle diseases that are by-products of chronic stress.
- HEART DISEASES
If you are always stressed, you are at a higher risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart problems. Stress may not directly cause these conditions but smoking and drinking to cope with the stress can lead to heart problems. People with acute heart problems should avoid stressors.
- WEIGHT GAIN
Stress hormones make you crave for foods that are rich in sugar, starch and fat. Stress can increase your calorie consumption and lead to poor food choices, making you put on extra weight. Accompanied with other unhealthy factors, this weight gain can lead to obesity in the future.
Stress can worsen diabetes in two different ways. First, it increases the likelihood of bad habits, such as unhealthy diet, smoking and drinking. Secondly, it may raise the glucose levels, especially for people with type 2 diabetes.
Stress causes tension, which is a common trigger for headaches and migraines.
- DEPRESSION & ANXIETY
It is no news that long term stress can lead to depression and anxiety. Stress is accompanied by several brain neurotransmitter systems, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine that negatively affect our mood, appetite, sleep and libido. Stress could not only be a cause of depression but also a by-product.
- SLEEP DISORDERS
Stress decreases the amount of deep sleep and you may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night too often as your brain in constantly reminding you of the stressful event. If this happens over a long period of time, you may develop insomnia and other forms of sleep disorders.
- GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Stress does not cause ulcers but can be a critical factor in worsening various diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, heartburn, ulcerative colitis and crohn's disease as a result of chronic inflammation.
- SKIN & HAIR PROBLEMS
You may have heard people saying “tension shows on the face”. It’s not just a saying as stress releases cortisol that causes severe hormonal imbalances, which has a negative impact on the skin and hair follicles. Stress can also lead to premature aging.
Now that we have chalked out the different unhealthy ways in which stress can affect our body, mind and overall health, it is important to deal with stress in a positive manner.
We cannot completely eradicate stress as we actually need some of it in our lives but what we can do is – dealing with it in a healthy manner, prevent chronic stress and recurrent episodes.