The Chemistry of Stress: 10 Ways It Affects Our Health

In our daily life we often undergo stressful situations. There is no avoiding them. The stress that one experiences is nothing but the response of the body to outer environment and the mind to our inner fears. These inner fears may be on account of anything like an examination, a job or responsibility, the family, an encounter with a person or situation one dislikes or fears, etc. (1)

Do you know what exactly happens in our body when we undergo stress?

Imagine that you have met with an accident. What happens next? The adrenal gland which is located just above the kidneys, responds to the accident by releasing an emergency hormone known as adrenaline into the bloodstream. This hormone helps in combating daily life stress by changing the body physiology.

Stress-at-WorkThe adrenaline decrease the flow of blood to the gut and shunt the blood to the body muscles to tackle the tough situation the body is faced with. This gives you more energy in muscles to combat the accident. The adrenaline produced at that time shuts down the functioning of immune system and gut by decreasing its blood supply.

This is known as the flight or fight response. This Natural response is one of the greatest gifts to human body in combating external threats that we often encounter in our daily life. This response gives us more power and energy to survive any external threats like accidents, being chased by wild animals etc. (1)

This was the case in ancient ancestors. One flight fight response would save their life from wild animals. This flight fight response is present in every animal to combat their enemies and to save their life from its predators. Once the external threat vanishes, the flight fight response subsides and body restores its normal functioning. (1)

But the question arises why modern man faces this much stress unlike the animals?

april2014healing-from-stressNormally when an external threat (accidents, exams etc.) is removed, adrenaline production gets stopped and body will restore its normal functioning. But in stress, where the threat is internal (negative thoughts and negative emotions) will constantly stimulate the production of adrenaline.

This will cause deleterious and harmful effects in our body unless the internal threat “the stress” is managed. Here in “stress” the hormone causes more harm than good. (1)

Do you know why and how exactly our negative thoughts impact badly our body?

The Latest research reveals that this adrenaline is not only produced while combating an accident, threat or disaster, but also produced when a man undergoes stress. The stress is indeed a disease of a modern man. The stress follows him where ever he goes.

The research shows that “the adrenaline is even produced in the body when a person undergoes a negative thought in his mind, or even when he feels negative emotions” and “the adrenaline is produced the same moment he experience negative thoughts and negative emotion”. The fact is that “there is no time lag between production of adrenaline and negative thoughts that pass through his mind or the negative emotions he feels within”. (1)

So how badly will this Adrenaline affect our body? Adrenaline causes the following:

stress(1) Increases blood sugar: Adrenaline increase glucose production from liver to blood and decreases the production of insulin thereby increasing the blood sugar. This predisposes to diabetes mellitus. (1)

(2) Increases blood pressure: Adrenaline increases blood pressure by constricting arterioles and veins thereby increases the blood pressure. This predisposes to hypertension. (1)

(3) Increases risk of cardiac diseases: Adrenaline increases the rate, force and contraction of heart muscles and causes arrhythmias. Concurrent stimulation of heart due to stress can put heart on increased workload leading to increased chances of getting a heart attack. Women’s have a premenopausal estrogen that protects her from stress related heart disease. (1)

(4) Increase Obesity: Adrenaline can move fat from storage depots and relocate it to fat cell deposits in abdomen. This causes an increase in body mass index and generates obesity. The obesity is one of the risk factor for developing diabetes and coronary artery disease. In some cases, patient loses his weight. (1)

(5) Indigestion and chronic constipation: Adrenaline decreases blood supply to gut and decreases peristalsis of bowel and increases sphincter tone by acting on its receptors. This leads to indigestion and chronic constipation. (1)


(6) Increases susceptibility to bacterial, fungal and viral infections: Adrenaline suppresses the functioning of immune cells required to combat infectious diseases and there by increases the susceptibility to bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Stress increase susceptibility for H.pylori infections in stomach to the common gastritis. Chronic stress can increase chance for Urinary tract infections in females. (1,2)

(7) Increases muscle tension: Adrenaline increases blood flow to muscles and cause increased muscle tension to cause tension headaches that we often experience at the end of our working days. The tight muscles can cause, headache, shoulder pain, backache and body pain. Chronic stress induced muscle tension can later predisposes to fibromyalgia etc. (2)

(8) Decreases interest in sex: Adrenaline decreases the testosterone produced in men and estrogen in women that is needed for sexual arousal. Chronic stress can cause decreased sperm production and erectile dysfunction or impotence. (2)

DebtStressGetty460(9) Alters Menstrual cycle: Chronic stress can cause irregular or no menstruation. Sometimes it can cause heavy or painful bleeding. (2)

(10) Creates psychic disorders: Chronic stress is one of the fundamental causes for conditions like over eating, less eating, alcohol and drug abuse. (1,2)


The solution?

The fundamental problem exists within the structure of our social systems. What you can do is practice mindfulness, meditation, surround yourself with people who love and respect you, and give yourself a break!



(1) The Science of Emotions: Dr. Fahad Basheer

(2) The effect of stress on the body: Ann Pietrangelo

originally published @ thespiritscience

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