Stress can be defined as excessive psychological or physical demand on somebody; no one passes through life without stressful periods. There are so many stressors (stimuli that cause that excessive physical or psychological demand) in the society, some of these life events can be prevented, you can prepare your mind for some and weather the storm while the others could be ameliorated by self-control in case of unexpected natural and financial disasters.
Good things and bad things can cause stress and in some cases, stress is necessary for optimal performance. Anything that causes one to be tense, angry, frustrated, unhappy is a stressor, even an opportunity could be a stressor.
Common causes of stress (stressors) in our society include:
4. Natural disasters
5. Death of loved ones
7. Financial commitments
8. Bad government
Stress causes a lot of hormonal changes in the body due to the actions in the brain and some other organs resulting in production of three hormones:– Adrenaline (Epinephrine),Nor-adrenaline (Norepinephrine) and cortisol. All three are produced by the same organ.
Adrenaline and Nor-adrenaline are responsible for our immediate response to stress; they arouse us, make us more focused in the face of stress, they make us run from danger, fight in defense or attack, work faster to meet deadlines and so on. To achieve this, the two hormones increase temporarily our heart rate, blood glucose, blood pressure culminating in anxiety, sweating, flushing and disturbed sleep. Other activities like sex and food are pushed to the back burner. The two hormones are produced in a bout in response to immediate stress, they are not continuously produced and their effects last from a few minutes to a few days.
Cortisol, the third stress hormone is produced more slowly due to the fact that its production process is longer; it helps to maintain balance of our body functions in the face of stress for a while but because it is continuously produced when the stress is chronic, the persistent high level of the hormone in our blood can become harmful to our body.
Chronic stress could have the following health effects:-
1. Reduced immunity
Chronic stress depresses the immune system of our body making us more susceptible to infections especially viral infections such as the common cold (running nostrils).Influenza. It also delays healing of wounds and recovery from illness.
2. Heart disease
Chronic stress causes elevation of the blood pressure which could lead to hypertension. The latter can injure the lining of blood vessels which in turn can lead to hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels. This situation increases the risk for stroke and heart attack.
3. Type 2 diabetes
The stress hormones compel the liver to release glucose into the blood stream for the required energy to fight the stressful condition. After the stressful event, the excess glucose is removed from the blood stream for storage by the hormone insulin. When stress is chronic it means the liver will continuously release stored glucose into the blood stream resulting in high levels of blood sugar; if the pancreas is unable to secret enough insulin to remove the excess blood glucose this could result in type 2 diabetes.
4. Reproductive problems
Chronic stress can cause reproductive problems; a few men have increased desire for sex under stress due to a bout of testosterone but this is usually short lived. In most cases, there is decreased desire for sex, further decrease in testosterone can lead to low sperm count, erectile dysfunction and impotence.
In women, chronic stress can lead to lack of desire for sex, poor menstrual flow, irregular menstrual periods, no menstruation, early-onset of menopause and exacerbation of hot flush of menopause
5. Acne (pimples)
Chronic stress can cause break out of acne commonly called pimples on the face. They clear off once the stressor disappears.
Chronic stress can lead to obesity as the affected person tends to eat more and late at night partly due to being awake.
7. Mental ill-health
Chronic stress affects the central nervous system resulting in the production of the stress hormones. But that is not all; stress can lead to irritability, loss of concentration, poor memory, anxiety, and depression.
8. Heartburn and Gastric ulcer
Chronic stress can result in excess production of stomach acid maybe following the release of adrenaline; this can lead to heartburn/acid reflux. Chronic stress does not cause stomach (gastric) ulcer but can make it worse
Also Read Causes of Stress