Why can stress make you sick? Read this article and learn how the body reacts to stress. Your body is programmed to react to stress and face the multiple demands of each day, such as assuming a heavy workload, making ends meet with money and caring for the family. However, sometimes you may feel as if you are in constant alarm. Here we explain why:
The natural response to stress
When you encounter a threat, such as the barking of a dog during your morning walk, for example, the hypothalamus (a small region at the base of the brain) triggers an alarm system in the body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, the system causes the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, to release an explosion of adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline boosts heart rate, raises blood pressure and stimulates energy supplies. Cortisol – the main stress hormone – increases sugar (glucose) in the blood, increases the cerebral use of glucose and the availability of substances that repair the tissues.
Cortisol also slows down non-essential or harmful functions in a fight or flight situation, alters responses of the immune system and suppresses the digestive system, reproductive system, and growth processes. This natural alarm system also communicates with regions of the brain that control mood, motivation or fear.
When the natural stress response goes crazy
The body’s stress response system is often self-limiting. Once the threat passes, the hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, heart rate and blood pressure return to normal and other systems resume their regular activities.
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But when stressors are always present, the fight or flight reaction stays on. Activation of the long-term stress response system and consequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can affect almost all of the body’s processes. This increases the risk of many health problems:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep Problems
- Weight gain
- Dysfunction of memory and concentration
So be careful; Learn ways to deal with stress and do not allow it to harm your health.