Stress is said to be the cause of more than 60% of visits to the doctor. It affects a very large public, regardless of age and social level. Stress becomes worrisome when it persists because it can become dangerous to health.

Impact of stress on health

How does stress affect our body?

According to endocrinologist Hans Selye, stress is a normal adaptation response of the body to the stresses and strains it experiences. It triggers a series of reactions that allow the body to manage the situation and regulate the stress caused by the triggering event.

The process of stress consists of 2 phases:

The alarm phase: The body reacts to this "attack" by stimulating the adrenal glands to release adrenaline so that the body can react immediately. The heart rate and blood pressure increase, some muscles contract and glucose is released into the bloodstream.

The resistance phase: The body then releases other hormones, including cortisol (hormone involved in the regulation of blood pressure, cardiovascular function, immune function), dopamine (= pleasure hormone), endorphins (= wellness hormone), serotonin (= sleep and calming hormone).

Once the stressful situation has been calmed and controlled, a relaxing reaction is triggered. After a period of rest the body returns to its natural metabolism.

When stress makes you ill

Sometimes the stressful situation lasts longer or recurs frequently.  The body then enters the 3rd phase: the exhaustion phase. The hormones produced to manage stressful situations are produced almost continuously, which costs the body far too much energy. Excess cortisol blocks the production of new neurons in the hippocampus (the region of the brain that acts on mood), which could lead to depression.

Too much stress could be the cause of some immune system failures. In addition, stress could be responsible for many ailments such as certain skin infections, insomnia, or amenorrhea. It also aggravates certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cancer. 

The Impact of Stress on Cardiovascular Health

American researchers, Dr. Friedman and Dr. Rosenman have been interested in how the personality of individuals affects their stress management.
They identified 2 typical personalities: type A and type B individuals. Type A individuals are at risk of suffering the harmful effects of stress because they are impatient, hardworking, aggressive and ambitious. Conversely, type B people would be much more optimistic and relaxed. Type A people would be 6 times more likely to suffer from heart problems than type B people.

Stress would cause aging
Hormones secreted during a stressful situation leave traces in the body. These wastes are deposited on arteries, joints, skin and promote tissue aging.
Stress generates free radicals (= unstable oxygen compounds) and increases oxidative damage, i.e. the aging and death of cells.

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