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Too much stress can suppress your immune system and cause you to get sick more easily.

Stress Is Making You Sick!

Stress Triggers Everything from Acne to Changes in Appetite

Recently, we shared about how stress is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and death, but we didn’t exactly explain how or why this happens. Scientists have been curious about the connection between the brain’s emotional response and the heart’s effect for years. Even after Thomas Willis, a neuroanatomist in the 17th century, discovered that attitudes towards one’s situation occur in the brain rather than the heart, people continued to believe that stress impacts physical health. And they weren’t wrong! Anxiety is everywhere and part of every human experience. But knowing how and why it affects your body can help you take better care of yourself.

How Does Stress Impact Us?

First, it is essential to understand that research shows that no matter where you live, how old you are, your sex, or your socioeconomic situation, stress impacts you.

According to research, stress induces changes in several parts of your nervous system. This stimulation can cause the narrowing of blood vessels and other changes that promote higher blood pressure and heart rate. Likewise, the nervous system can cause the skin to begin to sweat or flush unexpectedly. The more hormones that are released, the more your body reacts.

Simultaneously, stress causes immune dysregulation. In this state, the body creates more inflammatory cells in several critical areas of the body while also decreasing antiviral actions.

In other words, when our bodies are stressed, they become more inflamed and are not as good at recognizing foreign pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
Thus, we are more likely to get sick.

But this is just the beginning. Researchers have studied ways to measure the effects of stress and have even seen the impact of stress through neuroimaging of the brain. But here’s the takeaway: If you are experiencing significant short-term or long-term stress, do not underestimate the physical toll stress takes on your body.

Take a moment and consider if you experience regular seasons of stress. Do you find that you are also often sick in these moments? Don’t write off the headaches, eye twitches, colds, or difficulty sleeping. The emotions you are experiencing based on your life experiences are likely impacting your health. Especially if you are at risk for heart disease, stay on top of your stress.

Want to know how? Consider checking out several other stress-related resources.

Resources

Disentangling the Links Between Psychosocial Stress and Cardiovascular Disease 

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