In today's fast-paced world, chronic stress has become a pervasive health issue. With consequences ranging from heart disease to depression, understanding stress and its effects is a vital part of managing your overall health.
In striving to provide the best internal medicine in Tarzana, California, Dr. Samuel I. Fink wants patients to be aware of the health effects of ongoing stress. Managing daily stress is an often overlooked aspect of maintaining health, but stress can wreak havoc on your health in several ways.
Stress might be to blame for your headaches and trouble sleeping. The body is designed to handle temporary bouts of stress, but ongoing daily stressors are problematic and can cause health problems.
Stress is a natural response to challenges. Everything from a traffic jam to financial worries can cause stress. There’s also good stress, like what you feel when you’re excited about a challenge, such as competing in a sport or getting a promotion at work.
Stress can turn bad when the mental tension doesn’t let up. This is chronic stress that you experience when you have a stressful job or an unhappy home life.
How stress impacts physical health
Chronic stress can manifest itself in a multitude of ways within the physical body. These are some of the most critical ways stress can impact your health.
When you're under stress, your body releases hormones that speed up your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. These repeated spikes, caused by ongoing stress, can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels, eventually leading to hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes.
Furthermore, chronic stress can cause changes in your metabolism and lead to weight gain, both of which are additional risk factors for heart disease.
A less visible but significant effect of chronic stress is a constant low level of inflammation within your body. This inflammation can contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis.
Fatty deposits coupled with inflammation can cause blood vessels to stiffen and narrow, leading to coronary artery disease and increasing your risk of heart attacks and stroke. It underscores the importance of managing stress as a vital part of taking care of your heart.
In short bursts, stress can boost your immune system, preparing your body to fend off infections. However, chronic stress weakens the immune response, leaving you more susceptible to viruses and delaying healing times.
Stress can affect your digestion, leading to issues like acid reflux, ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also alter your eating habits and metabolism, potentially leading to obesity.
How stress impacts mental health
Not only does stress affect your physical health, but it also has a profound impact on your mental health.
Mood and emotions
Chronic stress can lead to a host of emotional issues, including depression and anxiety. It can also affect your mood, making you more irritable, restless, and unable to concentrate.
Stress can affect your sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or disturbed sleep. This lack of quality sleep can then amplify the symptoms of stress, creating a vicious cycle.
Managing stress for better health
Fortunately, there are many ways to manage stress effectively to prevent these health issues. Dr. Fink can suggest a variety of approaches to help you manage stress, providing practical stress management techniques tailored to your specific needs.
Dr. Fink can also guide you in making lifestyle changes such as ensuring you’re eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and practicing good sleep hygiene — all of which are vital in mitigating the impact of chronic stress.
Regular checkups are crucial in managing chronic stress and its effects. During these visits, Dr. Fink can check your blood pressure and monitor it over time, as chronic stress often leads to high blood pressure, a significant risk factor for heart disease.
It’s wise to get routine heart checks to detect any early signs of heart disease, which may go unnoticed without proper screening. By regularly monitoring your overall health, your physician can help you catch any stress-related conditions early, making treatment more effective and improving your overall well-being.
Reach out to Samuel I. Fink, MD, and our team to schedule a wellness check and receive individualized comprehensive care. Start your journey to better stress management and improved health by contacting us today.