Your car stalled on the highway, the roof is leaking, your child has the flu and your workload has more than doubled in the last month. You’re on the verge of losing your mind trying to deal with all the stress coming at you from all directions. Here’s the thing. Stress is an inevitable part of living, but when it is relentless, it can reach its boiling point, and take a toll on your mental and physical health. Keep in mind, the repercussions of the prolonged effects of stress can go far beyond the typical headache, stomach ache and irritability most people are aware of. The consequences can be far more severe.
Stress Can Lower Immunity
The American Psychological Association makes reference to a study done by researchers at Ohio State College of Medicine linking stress to the reduced production of gamma interferon, which helps boost the immune system. The lowered production of interferon can weaken your immune response, and put you at risk for viruses and infections of all sorts.
Stress Increases Disease Risk
Stress triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which help the body respond to infections more effectively. When cytokines are released for extended periods of time, they can be counterproductive. Instead of helping to prevent infections, these substances can cause them. It can also increase your risk of such diseases as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, breast cancer and osteoporosis.
Stress Lowers Libido
A healthy sex life is important if you are in a relationship. Unfortunately, feeling sexy is hard to do when you are overly busy, and stressed to the max. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the hormones that are responsible for your sexual response, and can ultimately lead to low libido in both men and women.
Stress can Cause Depression
Some of the chemicals released during bouts of extreme stress can affect how the prefrontal cortex functions, and lead to depression. As you well know, prolonged depression can spiral out of control and become debilitating enough to require psychotherapy and medication.
Unless you choose to opt out of society, and live in a bubble on a deserted island, stress is something you can’t escape. The trick is to find healthy ways such as meditation and exercise to manage it so it doesn’t get out of hand, increase the effects of stress, and damage your health.