Stress can affect your body in odd and unpleasant ways like insomnia and overeating. Oftentimes, prolonged stress can lower the immune system making you more prone to infections. However, stress can also provoke less known side effects. So, let’s look at seven unexpected symptoms that are caused by stress.
Stress can affect your skin and provoke reactions such as viral exanthem, hives, acne, and cold sores. This is due to the fact that stress makes your body produce hormones called cortisol and epinephrine. These two hormones activate skin glands making them produce too much oil. This can result in acne and other skin issues. Plus, during stress, we often neglect our usual self-care regimens and don’t sleep well. This can lead to acne and trigger acne flare-ups.
Anger and irritability are very common manifestations of long-term stress. During stress, your body starts to produce certain chemicals that can make you feel moody, tense, and even angry.
According to a January 2015 study in the American Heart Journal, high levels of anger have been shown to increase the risk of mental distress and cardiovascular disease.
Frequent headaches are a side effect of chemicals produced by your body during stress. When your body switches to “fight-or-flight” mode it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This contributes to vascular changes that prepare your muscles for danger. This chain of events can provoke a migraine or headache. Moreover, during long-term levels of stress, many people feel tightness in their back, jaw, neck, and shoulders.
Have you ever experienced a sudden back, shoulder, or neck pain? This might be due to stress. As mentioned above, during stress, your body goes to the flight-or-fight response that prepares your muscles to respond to danger. This might be actually beneficial in the short term but it can provoke problems if you are constantly under stress. Muscles become tense to protect themselves from injuries during stress, but they might not relax normally if the stress is prolonged.
Anyone who has ever had a "nervous stomach" knows that stress can cause gut issues and indigestion. Long-term stress can contribute to various gastrointestinal complications, for instance, stomach pain, constipation, and diarrhea. This is due to the fact that your gut and your brain are in constant communication. They are so connected that your gut is often referred to as your "second brain."
Stress often leads to brain fog and memory impairment that can make you forgetful and unable to solve simple tasks. In fact, chronic stress and anxiety can negatively affect your attention and your ability to restore your memories. According to a November 2018 study in Neurology, adults with higher levels of the stress hormone called cortisol had impaired memory and lower brain volumes. Moreover, chronic stress can provoke acute and chronic changes in some brain areas that can result in long-term damage.