For many people, stress is a pervasive feature of modern life. While stress and anxiety are usually thought of in terms of their impacts to mental health, those suffering from long-term stress can experience a number of physical problems, too. Let’s take a look at three common physical issues caused by stress.
Two cardiologists first observed the relationship between stress and heart disease in 1979. They noticed that their patients displayed anxious, restless behavior in their waiting rooms and decided to find out if heart disease risk was linked to this behavior.
According to their theory, people can be categorized as a Type A or a Type B personality.
Type A’s are highly driven and likely to be successful, but they’re also competitive, self-critical, easily wound-up, quick to anger, impatient and prone to overreaction. They’re also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure.
Type B’s are generally more relaxed and more tolerant, happier to go with the flow, less prone to anxiety and more likely to be creative with a rich imagination and an innate skill for self-reflection.
The researchers found that Type A personalities with their high levels of stress were twice as likely to develop heart disease as the more relaxed Type B’s.
If your personality matches that of the classic Type-A personality you may want to take extra care to manage the stress in your life.
While Type A’s are more prone to heart disease, no one is immune to the effects of chronic stress, so it’s wise to learn some relaxation and mindfulness techniques to help take the edge off things.
Periods of acute stress, as well as longer lasting chronic stress, can both result in hair loss. Stress is difficult to avoid in the modern world, but there are measures that you can take to help you minimize its effects. Exercise, meditation, yoga and relaxing hobbies can all combat stress and greatly relieve any associated physical issues.
Not all types of hair loss can be attributed to stress. Some hair loss is caused by hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases and genetic factors. Many people successfully treat certain types of hair loss with topical formulations based on Minoxidil. Scalp Med is one such treatment that is known to minimize the side effects (dandruff, itchy and burning scalp) that this medication can cause.
DNA Damage and Accelerated Aging
Chronic stress is associated with a four to eight-year reduction in life span.
Each strand of a cell’s DNA is protected by end caps called telomeres, which contain genetic information necessary for cells to replicate themselves without drawing from and damaging the cell’s core genetic material.
Each time a cell divides it uses some of the information in the telomeres, and the telomeres shorten. When the telomeres lose a certain amount of their length, the cell undergoes damage or dies; this process is at the root of the aging process.
Telomere length can be protected and replenished by an enzyme called telomerase, but chronic stress results in elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and greatly diminished levels of telomerase, which leads to premature aging.
Tackling the stresses in your life is one of the most important steps that you can take to improve your physical health and mental wellbeing. Often, employing self-help techniques can make a huge difference in a person’s stress levels, but sometimes big life changes like quitting a highly pressured job or walking away from a toxic relationship are necessary to lower stress to healthier levels. Talking to a therapist can help you find the right solutions for your own situation.