The side effects of stress are incredible. I mean, we all know that stress isn’t good for us, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If stress becomes intense or long-term, the body starts to react, and I’ve been experiencing some of that first hand recently. What’s stranger is that the side effects of stress are so rarely talked about, that people don’t realize what they are. Check this list, and see if your stress is affecting you more than you think.
One of the least-known side effects of stress is that it makes you age. People who are prone to stress and depression have shorter telomeres, which are caps on the ends of chromosomes. These chromosomes are linked to ageing, and the shorter the cap, the faster someone ages. Scientists recently discovered that this affects girls as young as 10. Incredible. While ageing might not be a big concern right now, it’s a good reason to keep stress under control.
Severe stress can lead to memory loss. When you’re stressed, your body starts to produce cortisol, which reduces the synapses which hold your short-term memories. So you won’t start forgetting everything, but you’ll find that it’s harder to remember things, or you might not be able to remember for a period of time. Scary.
Feeling sickly? Stress’ll do that. It messes up your immune system, making it more likely that you’ll get sick. It’s harsh, because if you’re working hard, the last thing you need is to catch every cold or bug that’s going round, but that’s exactly what will happen. In the short term vitamins could help, but you really need to lower your stress to let your immune system repair.
Stress and depression go hand in hand. Studies have shown that chronic stress leads to depression by killing neurons in the brain, and preventing neurogenesis. It’s not helped by the extra illnesses that you’ll catch, and it can be easy to start feeling sad and fed up. Usually, if you conquer the stress, the depression will lift as neurogenesis restarts. In the meantime, if you’re feeling really stressed, see your doctor and they’ll talk you through treatment options. Nobody needs to put up with depression – get help. It’s really, really worth it.
Stress can cause havoc for the skin! It increases the level of the hormone glcocoricoid, which reduces skin quality. That could mean that you feel itchy or get red blotches, or it could cause eczema or psoriasis. If you already have those conditions, stress is likely to make them flare. Again, you can treat these conditions using skin creams and medications, but you’re also going to need to fight the stress!
Who knew that stress affects your teeth? Yep. Stressed people often clench or grind their teeth, without realizing. This can happen at night, or in short intervals during the day. This then damages the teeth and gums, and can lead to Temporomandibular disorders and severe neck pain. Your dentist will be able to fit you with a protection device if you can’t stop clenching, and a physiotherapist can usually help with the neck pain or tension.
A decreased sex drive might not feel like the worst of the side effects of stress, but it can have a big impact on relationships. Stress can kill your libido dead, and sometimes even make you crave your own space. A healthy sex drive is natural, and it can make you feel connected and relaxed. Ironically, it’s also a great way to unwind! Getting this back can be difficult, expecially if you’re female, where there isn’t much medical help. Getting your stress under control is vital!
If these side effects of stress don’t have you making plans on how to reduce yours, I don’t know what will! Whether you’re suffering from all of them, a few of them or none of them, though, make an effort to acknowledge it, and fight down the stress. If you can’t see a way to reduce stress, or you’re feeling totally overwhelmed, reach out to your parents, teachers or counselor, and they will help. Do you know any great ways of fighting stress?
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