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Posted: April 11, 2017 5:00 a.m.

Signs of stress that must be addressed

The American Institute of Stress notes that various disorders, both emotional and physical, have been linked to stress. Such disorders include depression, stroke, hypertension, and anxiety, among others. In its 2015 Stress in AmericaTM survey, the American Psychological Association found that money, stress and family responsibilities are the three most common stressors. While the symptoms of stress are uncomfortable and potentially very dangerous, the APA notes that such indicators also serve as a warning from the body that it needs maintenance and extra care. The following are some of the ways the body might be telling adults to step back and make an effort to relieve stress.

  • Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain: Some headaches or aches and pains might be mere nuisances or indicative of issues unrelated to stress. But when such symptoms are accompanied by stress, this could be the body’s way of alerting men and women that the stress is approaching unhealthy levels. The AIS notes that when a person is under stress, his or her muscles tense up. The contraction of these muscles for extended periods of time can trigger tension headaches and migraines, among other things.
  • Chest pains and/or rapid heartbeat: Chest pains and rapid heartbeat may indicate various problems, including stress. This happens when the body is stressed because stress causes the nervous system to signal the adrenal glands to release hormones that make the heart beat faster and increase blood pressure.
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep: Men and women who are feeling stressed out and also experiencing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep should consult their physicians about ways to alleviate that stress. When strategies to alleviate stress are successful, adults should be able to return to normal, healthy sleeping patterns.
  • Increased frequency of colds: Stress can attack the body’s immune system, making it increasingly vulnerable to colds. The AIS also notes that a weakened immune system also makes the body more susceptible to additional viral disorders, including herpes, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
  • Loss of appetite or overeating: Stress can affect the gastrointestinal system in various ways, including influencing appetite. While not all problems with appetite are indicative of a body that is overstressed, stress can prompt some people to eat much more than they normally do, while others may eat considerably less than they normally would.
  • Diarrhea or constipation: Another indicator that stress is compromising the gastrointestinal system is diarrhea or constipation. Again, while these problems are not exclusive to sufferers of stress, when a person is under stress, this can affect which nutrients the body can successfully absorb and how quickly food is metabolized. This can cause some people to experience diarrhea, while others may be constipated. 

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