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Is Stress Making You Sick?

When you perform well under the pressure of a tight deadline or feel exhilarated after a round on a roller coaster, you’re feeling some of the positive benefits of stress. These contrast dramatically with the effects of chronic stress, such as from constant high-pressure work environments or from a series of intense events occurring close together. Stress, in these cases, is anything but exhilarating. 

Response to stress is also highly individual. Pressures that you might roll with gracefully could stop someone else dead in their tracks. Whenever anyone comes up against a chronic stress wall without relief, it can take a tangible toll on their health. It’s not always easy to realize that stress is the reason for illness, so choosing a medical partner in health like the physicians of Alpha Internal Medicine in Fayetteville, Georgia, helps you recognize and cope with the effects of stress in your everyday life.  

Fight-or-flight

Your body has a protective system that’s perhaps easiest to recognize when you experience the fight-or-flight response after a startling event, like a car accident or sudden fright. Your body responds with a burst of hormones designed to help you cope with immediate danger. Once you’ve dealt with the danger, conditions return to normal. 

However, chronic stress means that you don’t perceive an “all clear” moment, and your body remains on alert, leading to imbalances you’re not meant to endure. The effects of ongoing stress can affect every aspect of your health, mentally and physically, as well as affecting your interactions with others. 

The effects of cortisol

One of the chemical responses that occurs as a response to stress is the release of the hormone cortisol. In a fight-or-flight situation, you may notice physical reactions such as: 

These are all due to the effects of cortisol, which signals the release of glucose into the bloodstream and reduces natural insulin production. In the short term, your body can handle these effects temporarily. During chronic stress, high levels of blood glucose and low levels of insulin begin to take a toll on tissue in your body. Those who understand type 2 diabetes recognize these conditions, which can affect nerves and blood vessels. 

Emotional symptoms

As well as these negative physical conditions, ongoing stress takes an emotional toll. Stress could be behind such mood and behavioral changes as: 

Combined with the widespread physical and cognitive effects of stress, these emotional symptoms can make it difficult for you to generate the motivation to get the medical attention you need to counteract the effects of stress. 

When you recognize changes in the stressful aspects of your life and these coincide with later changes in mind and body, it’s time to discuss these issues with a physician. Contact Alpha Internal Medicine by phone or online to schedule a consultation with a team member. They can help you decipher the role stress may be playing in your health. Book an appointment today. 

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