The overproduction of the stress hormones adrenaline, cortisol and noradrenaline can cause many parts of the body to deteriorate.
Additionally, when the brain triggers the “fight or flight” response, the body begins to shut down functions that are not essential to survival. The brain thinks there is a life-threatening danger, even though the stresses of modern life are rarely so grave.
These are some of the ways stress breaks down the body:
1. Memory Loss
Memory can be weakened by prolonged stress. Excessive amounts of cortisol can actually damage the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain that controls memory. Stress hormones can also affect the production of the neurotransmitters that regulate memory and other cognitive functions.
Stress can cause clenching or grinding the teeth, known as bruxism. Usually the grinding starts after you are asleep. According to Able Dental Group, this will lead to gum recession, tooth fracture and loss, arthritis in the jaw, and headaches. The pressure on the jaw area can also lead to painful problems with temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
3. Hair Loss
Excessive stress can cause a condition called telogen effluvium, or TE, which results in temporary hair loss. When TE occurs, a large number of hair follicles go into a dormant phase at the same time. This causes the hair to thin or even come out in clumps.
4. Skin Damage
The cortisol produced during long periods of stress causes the body to age more rapidly, breaks down the skin’s elasticity and leads to wrinkles. Stress can also affect the skin by triggering a hormonal response that creates more oil production and causes breakouts.
The digestive system is often slowed down due to the “fight or flight” response. This can result in stomach pain or even vomiting. Many gastrointestinal ailments are caused by slowed digestion, ranging from mild diarrhea to chronic irritable bowel syndrome.
6. Weakened Immune System
Increased cortisol, due to stress, overwhelms the immune system, leaving it unable to fight off infection. Long-term stress can cause the immune system to begin attacking itself, which can lead to inflammatory or autoimmune conditions.
7. Adrenal Fatigue
Living in a constant state of adrenalin over-production can lead to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness and sleep disturbance.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, they are probably the result of stress, especially if your doctor has ruled out other causes.
Author Bio: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer from Sacramento, California. A mother of two, Hannah strives to empower women with her writing. She enjoys writing most about family, business, and home design.