The effects of stress on your body
Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganisation
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgement
- Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side.
Behavioural symptoms of stress include:
- Changes in appetite - either not eating or eating too much
- Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes
- Exhibiting more nervous behaviour, such as nail biting, fidgeting and pacing.
What are the consequences of long-term stress?
A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. Ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems, including:
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks and stroke
Obesity and other eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
Sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction (impotence) and premature ejaculation in men and loss of sexual desire in both men and women
Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, eczema and permanent hair loss
Gastrointestinal problems, such as heartburn, indigestion, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Help is available for stress
Stress is a part of life but what matters most is how you handle it. The best thing you can do to prevent stress overload and the health consequences that come with it is to know your stress symptoms and manage stress.
If you, or someone you know, is feeling overwhelmed by stress, seek medical advice. Many symptoms of stress can also be signs of other health problems. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms, rule out other conditions, and advise you on ways to manage stress.