Surprising Ways That Stress Affects the Body

Written by on August 2, 2011 in Featured, Mind

Stress is a disease that plagues everyone whether it is caused by work, school, relationships, or the future. These powerful forces can be caused by virtually any situation, and can even stem from internal thoughts. Stress can be defined as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.” The many symptoms of stress are varied, yet being easily annoyed or regularly irritable are standard indications of high stress levels. Everyone responds differently to life’s stressors, but the way stress affects the body is universal.

Although scientists have not discovered all the abundant effects of stress, here is a brief list of the surprising ways that stress affects the body:

Acne. When you are feeling overwhelmed, does it seem like pimples pop up overnight? That is because stress triggers inflammation of the body and inflammation is the physical cause of acne. Despite the fact that acne is most prevalent in teenagers, adults frequently suffer from acne as well. Some people say that having acne is emotionally upsetting and causes them to feel depressed. Unfortunately this process is cyclical; more acne leads to more stress and so on. To effectively treat acne, you should consult a dermatologist.

Eye spasms. You may often feel self-conscious about a twitching eye, but the reality is that the spasm is so small that no one can see it. Another common cause of eye and eyelid twitching is sleep deprivation- which is usually due to stress. Currently there are no known cures for occasional eye spasms, but stress- management seems to greatly help. The more you can relieve your anxiety and relax, the less likely your eye is to twitch. In extreme cases, it is necessary to consult a physician or ophthalmologist.


Headaches and migraines. Daily stress, such as from a high-pressured job, can lead to chronic tension headaches. Over half of all people who experience tension headaches report hunger or stress as the cause. Migraine sufferers are generally found to be more emotional and highly effected by stressful events than normal people. Treatment depends on the severity and frequency of the headaches.

Depression. This effect may seem obvious, but experiencing stress over a prolonged period of time decreases overall happiness in an individual. The constant difficulties of managing stress take a harmful toll on a person’s emotional and mental wellbeing. Chronic stress is often the root cause of other mental illnesses including obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia, and phobia.  It is important to seek psychological help if you are worried that stress will result in depression.

Diarrhea and constipation. Sudden stress is known to disrupt bowel movements for a short period. Since bowel movements are a subconscious function, it is important to eliminate the stress to the best of your ability. Once the stress is relieved, then the bowel will return to equilibrium. If you are experiencing diarrhea, the most important thing to remember is that fluid intake should not cease, as the fluids and nutrients lost must be replenished. Prolonged stress has even been known to negatively contribute to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Weakened immune system. Scientists have found that during a period of raised cortisol (stress hormones), immune system cells disappear from the blood. Cortisol prevents the lymphocytes (immune cells) from multiplying. As we all know, as the immune system becomes weaker, the ability to fight off infectious diseases decreases.

For more information about stress and ways to combat it, visit

Stressed Girl Photo: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Samael Kreutz
Stress Ball Photo: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by bottled_void

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