Ask a Therapist #23: How does Stress Effect the Body?
Everyone experiences stress. "Stress" is simply the mental, emotional, and physical response to changes in your environment. It is a daily experience. Not all stress is bad. Indeed, challenging yourself can keep you active and healthy both mentally, and physically. Too much stress however can cause all sorts of issues, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
When stress begins to affect the body, your system releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is your "Fight, Flight, or Freeze" response and has been known to lower your immune response, increase blood pressure, cause headaches, decrease your sex drive and a whole host of other things that can impact you negatively if the stress is chronic and long lasting.
Physical issues from stress are the most obvious, but mental effects can be just as detrimental. Depression, anxiety, lack of focus and general irritability can be directly linked to stress. This may be rather self-evident but you might be surprised by how many people don't make these connections. If you are experiencing stress, take a step back and truly evaluate its effect on your life. Is it worth it?
Consider the following ‘stress facts’ from Web MD:
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions
Good news is that massage can decrease cortisol up to 53%. Finding a good massage therapist is rewarding in so many ways! Massage can help smooth away not only the physical effects of stress on your system by decreasing blood pressure and helping to release the adhesions in your muscles keeping them tight, but it can help to relieve depression and elevate your mood!
Who can say no to that?!