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"Stress does not just make us feel bad emotionally," says Jay Winner, MD, author of Stress Out Your Life and director of the Stress Management Program at Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, California. "It can also simply exacerbate any health condition you can think of."
Studies have found many health problems related to stress. Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk of diseases such as obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems and asthma.
Before you get stressed out by being stressed, there is some good news. Following some simple tips to relieve stress could reduce your stress and decrease your health risks.
10 health problems related to stress
What are some of the most important health problems related to stress? Here is a sample.
Heart disease. Researchers have long suspected that stressed type A personality has an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. We do not know exactly why. Stress can directly increase heart rate and blood flow, and triggers the release of cholesterol and triglycerides into the bloodstream. It is also possible that stress is related to other problems, a greater likelihood of smoking or obesity, that indirectly increase heart risks.
Doctors know that sudden emotional stress can be a trigger for serious heart problems, including heart attacks. People who have chronic heart problems should avoid acute stress, and learn how to successfully handle the inevitable stresses of life, as much as they can.
Asthma. Many studies have shown that stress can make asthma worse. Some evidence suggests that chronic stress in parents may even increase the risk of developing asthma in their children. One study analyzed how parental stress affected the asthma rates of young children who were also exposed to air pollution or whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. Children with stressed parents had a substantially higher risk of developing asthma.
Obesity. Excess belly fat seems to pose greater health risks than fat in the legs or hips, and unfortunately, that's where people with high stress seem to store it. "Stress causes higher levels of the hormone cortisol," says Winner, "and that seems to increase the amount of fat that is deposited in the abdomen."
Diabetes. Stress can make diabetes worse in two ways. First, it increases the likelihood of bad behaviors, such as eating unhealthy and drinking excessively. Secondly, stress seems to raise the glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes directly.
Headaches Stress is considered one of the most common triggers for headaches, not only tension headaches, but also migraines.
Depression and anxiety. It is probably not a surprise that chronic stress is related to higher rates of depression and anxiety. A survey of recent studies found that people who had stress related to their jobs, such as demanding work with few rewards, had an 80% greater risk of developing depression in a few years than people with less stress.
Gastrointestinal disorders. Here is one thing that stress does not do: it does not cause ulcers. However, it can make them worse. Stress is also a common factor in many other gastrointestinal conditions, such as chronic heartburn (or gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), says Winner.
Alzheimer disease. An animal study found that stress could worsen Alzheimer's disease, causing brain injuries to form more quickly. Some researchers speculate that reducing stress has the potential to slow the progression of the disease.
Accelerated aging. Actually, there is evidence that stress can affect age. One study compared the DNA of mothers who were under a high level of stress (taking care of a child with chronic diseases) with women who were not. The researchers discovered that a particular region of the chromosomes showed the effects of accelerated aging. Stress seemed to accelerate aging between 9 and 17 additional years.
Early death. A study analyzed the effects of stress on health by studying elderly caregivers who take care of their spouses, people who, naturally, are subjected to a lot of stress. He found that caregivers had a death rate 63% higher than people of their age who were not caregivers.
Video credits to Monica Yearwood YouTube channel