Let’s face it; no one likes stress, but it’s something we all live with to some degree.
Whatever the cause, the end result of stress presents with about 15 to 20 varying symptoms that can include loss of appetite, sleep problems, irritability, trouble concentrating, and sadness.
Now not all stress is bad for you.
In fact, stress is what often allows us to grow into more productive and independent individuals.
In fact, most people who are confronted with stressful events won’t develop a disease.
According to an article by Sean Williams in Motley Fool for the unlucky few, too much at one time, or a constant battering of stressful activities at home or on the job can be very, very unhealthy.
Here are the 3 main diseases caused by stress according to Williams…
The biggest concern for someone living a stressful life is that they’re often going to look for ways to make themselves feel better.
This will involve a higher smoking rate among stressed individuals, more alcohol use, and a propensity to eat less nutritious foods (e.g., fast food), which can lead to high blood pressure and obesity.
All of these factors put stressed-out individuals at a much higher risk of developing some form of cardiovascular disease.
What’s even more concerning about this particular disease is that socioeconomic stress (having a lower income) can place long-term limitations on someone’s food choice selections.
With heart disease being the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S., this is a serious concern.
It really should come as no surprise that high levels of stress are a primary culprit behind depression.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that was based on a paper from the Institute of Medicine, stress is a major factor that causes the onset of depression and is a contributing factor in recovering patients who relapse.
JAMA’s article points out two primary stress factors most commonly linked to depression — including social stresses such as those caused by a relationship breakup, and the type of depression caused by finding out one has a serious illness.
Unfortunately, depression and disease can build upon themselves in a vicious cycle whereby a serious disease can cause depression, and the depression can worsen the disease.
The third subset of diseases that stress puts people at risk of developing, according to the National Institutes of Health, are anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In OCD cases, people have unwanted thoughts, feelings, or sensations that drive them to take action.
Once that action is taken it provides temporary relief, but any deviation from that routine can cause even more stress.
Patients with panic disorder are crippled by panic attacks that begin suddenly and last for upwards of 20 minutes.
Panic disorder is usually diagnosed in adulthood, and it’s diagnosed twice as much in women as in men.
Most people who suffer from panic attacks will develop some mixture of dizziness, chest pain, heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, or trembling.
In cases of PTSD, the patient has trouble managing stress, which is often caused by being exposed to a traumatic event such as being in a war or being assaulted.
The symptoms of PTSD can vary dramatically, from avoidance of the event altogether to agitation and excitability.
For PTSD, psychological therapy known as desensitization — whereby a patient is encouraged to remember the event in the hope of getting them to express their emotions — is often effective, although SSRIs are sometimes still prescribed.
Ultimately, some form of stress is inevitable.
The key is how we react to that stress and whether we have a support group around us to help us manage our stress levels.