Although it may sound strange to many, stress is a natural response of the human body. Activities of the most diverse nature must alert the body to possible threats or risks.
However, the problem is when it ceases to be a necessary mechanism and becomes excessive. When this occurs, the first complaints of physical fatigue and mental exhaustion appear, accompanied by other classic signs.
Aiming to bring the best in terms of scientifically based information, today we will address stress, how it can affect your physical and mental health, and how to control and alleviate it.
Do you feel stressed? Then, the following reading is mandatory!
What Is Stress Anyway?
Have you ever wondered what stress is? As mentioned in the introduction, stress is a natural response of the organism, which occurs automatically as a result of any event of extreme exertion or great importance, usually when we are placed under threat or pressure.
This response releases a series of chemical reactions in the body, which causes different physiological reactions.
The human organism goes through oscillations during the day. This occurs whenever the brain perceives some activity that is threatening or that causes some pressure.
These changes can be very positive. If someone is being pressured at work, the brain will pick up on it and respond with changes that will help them complete tasks more efficiently.
However, this pressure persists for a long time. In that case, the previously beneficial changes become harmful. They manifest themselves in the body in a dangerous way through specific symptoms, such as stomach pain, tachycardia, or headache.
Any situation, whether good or bad, that causes changes in our body are considered a source of stress.
Today the scientific community is categorical in stating three different types of stress. Let’s talk a little about each of these types and their main symptoms.
Acute stress is a physiological reaction to a stressful moment or fact, such as a presentation to everyone at work. This is a one-off condition.
The main signs are:
- Mood instability;
- Tension headache;
- Sweating hands;
- Dry mouth;
- Back and jaw pain.
Acute Episodic Stress
This form of stress is similar to the acute type. However, instead of occurring in just one isolated moment, the stimuli that cause the acute reactions are repeated frequently. People subjected to recurring goals and pressures can develop this type of.
The forms of manifestation are:
- Persistent headaches that can progress to migraines;
- Increased blood pressure;
- Chest pains;
- Occurrence of cardiovascular problems.
The stress can become chronic when someone is routinely subjected to stressful situations. In these cases, physical and mental reactions tend to be persistent, affecting the individual’s quality of life.
Chronic stress is a risk factor for other health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Chronic stress is the most harmful type to the body because some hormones, mainly cortisol, start to get very high, bringing about a series of metabolic disorders.
The characteristic symptoms are:
- The feeling of exhaustion;
- Difficulty relaxing and resting;
- Fatigue followed by discouragement;
- Problems with feeling pleasure;
- The constant sense of failure;
- Sleep changes.
It is widespread that when it occurs acutely, the symptoms of stress are not even noticed. But with the accumulation of exposure to stressful situations, the emergence of general symptoms that can be both physical and mental is ordinary.
The main physical symptoms of stress are:
- Appetite changes;
- Changes in intestinal functioning, such as increased gas formation, poor stool formation, reflux, and stomach pains without an apparent cause;
- The emergence of gastritis and ulcers;
- Dry mouth;
- Loss of hair;
- The emergence of skin allergies;
- Muscle strains in the back and neck, and jaw;
- Decreased immunity, increasing cases of colds, flu, and sore throats;
- Appearance or increase of acne;
- Unintentional weight gain or loss.
The classic mental signs of stress are:
- Accelerated breathing;
- Heartbeat out of rhythm;
- Difficulty concentrating followed by irritability;
- Mood changes;
- unexplained tremors;
The causes of stress are varied. In a standard way, people can feel stressed by any type of situation, such as a significant change in life, job change, separation, pregnancy, or marriage.
But when we talk about chronic stress, harmful to health, its causes are usually directly related to different situations.
A person may experience stress at some critical moments in their life, possibly motivated by anxiety, apprehension, and concern, such as:
- Use of specific medications such as anxiolytics and beta-blockers, and hormone replacements;
- Abuse of substances with excess caffeine, such as coffee, stimulants, and some types of teas, such as green, white, black, and matcha tea;
- High-pressure situations like goals to hit at work and conflicts in relationships;
- Presence of pre-existing illnesses, such as depression, OCD, inflammatory conditions, and Burnout Syndrome, for example.
When not treated, the state can bring a series of complications to the patient’s life and even evolve or trigger a series of pathologies, both physical and psychological.
We now know that there is an intimate relationship in what is called the brain-gut axis. Therefore, it is widespread for stressed patients to develop gastrointestinal problems. The main issues, in this case, are ulcerative colitis, nervous gastritis, esophagitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
In addition to these intestinal diseases, some disorders from a dermatological point of view also tend to arise in stressed people. Allergies followed by psoriasis and alopecia are relatively common.
And finally, diseases of nervous origin also tend to arise, such as panic syndrome, anxiety, and depression are the main ones.