What are the effects of stress ?
- Stress, Mental Health, Effects, irritability, anxiety, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness
Many of the effects are physiological in nature,
however, other changes also occur inside stressed individuals. There are four major effects of stress associated with the stressed state, viz. emotional, physiological, cognitive, and behavioural.
Emotional Effects : Those who suffer from stress are far more likely to experience mood swings, and show erratic behaviour that may alienate them from family and friends. In some cases this can start a vicious circle of decreasing confidence, leading to more serious emotional problems. Some examples are feelings of anxiety and depression, increased physical tension, increased psychological tension and mood swings.
Physiological Effects : When the human body is placed under physical or psychological stress, it increases the production of certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones produce marked changes in heart rate, blood pressure levels, metabolism and physical activity. Although, this physical reaction will help us to function more effectively when we are under pressure for short periods of time, it can be extremely damaging to the body in the long-term effects. Examples of physiological effects are release of epinephrine and nor - epinephrine, slowing down of the digestive system,expansion of air passages in the lungs, increased heart rate, and constriction of blood vessels.
Cognitive Effects: If pressures due to stress continue, one may suffer from mental overload. This suffering from high level of stress can rapidly cause individuals to lose their ability to make sound decisions. Faulty decisions made at home,in career, or at workplace may lead to arguments, failure, financial loss or even loss of job. Cognitive effects of stress are poor concentration, and reduced short- term memory capacity.
Behavioural Effects : Stress affects our behaviour in the form of eating less nutritional food, increasing intake of stimulants such as caffeine, excessive consumption of cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs such as tranquillisers etc. Tranquillisers can be addictive and have side effects such as loss of concentration, poor coordination, and dizziness. Some of the typical behavioural effects of stress seen are disrupted sleep patterns, increased absenteeism, and reduced work performance.
Stress and Health: You must have often observed that many of your friends (may be including yourself as well!) fall sick during the examination time. They suffer from stomach upsets, body aches, nausea, diarrhoea and fever etc. You must have also noticed that people who are unhappy in their personal lives fall sick more often than those who are happy and enjoy life. Chronic daily stress can divert an individual’s attention from caring for herself or himself. When stress is prolonged, it affects physical health and impairs psychological functioning. People experience exhaustion and attitudinal problems when the stress due to demands from the environment and constraints are too high and little support is available from family and friends. The physical exhaustion is seen in the signs of chronic fatigue, weakness and low energy. The mental exhaustion appears in the form of irritability, anxiety, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. This state of physical, emotional and psychological exhaustion is known as burnout.
There is also convincing evidence to show that stress can produce changes in the immune system and increase the chances of someone becoming ill. Stress has been implicated in the development of cardiovascular disorders, high blood pressure, as well as psychosomatic disorders including ulcers, asthma, allergies and headaches. Researchers estimate that stress plays an important role in fifty to seventy percent of all physical illnesses. Studies also reveal that sixty per cent of medical visits are primarily for stress-related symptoms.