Stress is a known factor in causing and exacerbating medical conditions. This is due to our fight or flight response, a blood pressure-raising process designed to dose us with a quick blast of cortisol, a hormone made by the adrenal gland. In the past, this enabled us to outrun a predator or survive a fight, but over the long term, stress can lead to health problems.
Here are some of the lesser-known effects of stress.
Stress can make asthma worse. Researchers aren't quite sure why, but it may be that stress cranks up the immune system. Exposure to dust, animal hair or pollen causes the immune system to overreact to these triggers, aggravating asthma symptoms.
Being under extreme pressure can make your blood pound and your head correspondingly throb. It can also happen in the relaxing period afterwards. This is due to changes in your vascular system.
When you're stressed out your body tenses, leading to tight muscles. Migraines, sore necks and jaw ache are the result of experiencing fight or flight over a much longer period of time than it takes to outrun a sabre-toothed tiger.
What were we talking about again? Oh yes, cortisol can prevent the brain forming new memories. That's why, when you are stressed out, you forget to do pretty much everything except be stressed. It interferes with the neurotransmitters that allow brain cells to speak to each other.
Stress from toddlers, moving house, or a boss so hellish you picture yourself peeing in their teacup can lead to hair loss. Researchers aren't certain on this topic, but believe stress triggers alopecia - an autoimmune condition that cases hair to fall out.
Research shows that large amounts of stress reduce the amount of brain tissue in our emotional and self control areas. We are only one genetic step away from monkeys, after all.
Ah, that got your attention. Studies may show that women are less attracted to men with higher levels of cortisol. It's probably the fact they have no body hair left, have a smaller brain, have jaw/head/neck/back pain, and have an asthma attack every time a dog looks at them.
It's thought that, when stressed, the immune system is less able to detect a hormone that turns off inflammation. Folk under stress are more likely to get a cold and folk with colds are likely to be stressed. It's a cycle even more vicious than Katie Hopkins' gob.
Don't stress out about it, there are ways to manage the symptoms that stress causes. Sadly they are not attractive options, like eating chips and drinking wine, but managing your diet (cortisol is linked to cravings for sugar and fat) exercising, and learning techniques for stress management are the way to go. Stress is a widespread and upsetting condition that ruins lives. If you need help managing stress please see your doctor.