Stress comes in different types and it affects every single person differently. One may be able to handle the stress well but another person may not be able to deal with the stress which can be caused by a few risk factors whether it is genetic or non-genetic factors.People experience stress on a frequent basis however too much stress is not good as it can affect the person’s health especially the immune system. Experiencing stress is normal for everyone especially short-term stress. For example, one may experience stress nearing their examination or when one has to do their presentation in front of the school.
It can also be considered a “good stress” or in other words, acute stress. It is relatively short bouts of stress and it gives energy and motivation in return. However, long-term stress will cause the immune system to not work properly. Some examples would be having high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and more.Heart beat racing.
Sweating. Dry mouth. Stuttering. These are some of the physical effects when one starts to feel stressed. There are also other types of effects. Firstly, would be emotional effects whereby one may feel moody and feel very tense. This can affect their whole day.
Secondly, cognitive effects. It is when one is not able to think properly and be rational. It will then cause one to worry more. For example, one may not be able to finish their assignments which can affect their grades in school.
Thirdly, behavioral effects whereby one may have sleep disturbances or they sleep too much. They may also have no appetite causing them to lose weight and if the stress is prolonged, one may have anorexia. Same goes for opposite, they may binge when they are stressed causing them to gain weight without realizing and may be obese.
Why does all of these happen? That is due to the cortisol and adrenaline which are stress hormones that are released during the body defense called “fight or flight” response as a way of the body’s response to protect. This happens when the body detects that they are in danger or are being threatened. The body will then be in survival mode and will store energy for future occurrence. Therefore, when you are overstressed, the body will keep storing energy to the point it may exceed which can be dangerous. So, what is cortisol and how does it affect? Like I said earlier, cortisol is activated as it is the primary hormone responsible for the stress hormone.
It is produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands. Cortisol levels should not be too low or too high. The functions of cortisol are to help restore homeostasis after experiencing stress and it helps to reduce inflammation but it does not completely eliminate it. Inflammation occurs after the immune system attacked the foreign invader that the body encountered. However, cortisol levels can stay elevated for a long time if the stress is chronic and long-term. This can cause the immune system to be suppressed and it breaks down the body’s defense mechanism.
It also means that the body is continuously in “fight or flight” response. This will then increase a person’s appetite which can lead to excess weight gain. If the cortisol levels are too low, it means that the adrenal glands are fatigued. It will cause burnout and chronic inflammation.
The immune system’s ability to fight off antigens will not be as effective as the stress hormone will decrease the number of lymphocytes that are responsible for two reasons. For B cells lymphocytes, they are responsible for generating antibodies whereas T cells are responsible for destroying the infected cell. When there is a decrease in lymphocytes, the person is more prone to falling sick and will take longer time to heal. In other words, the body will not be able to absorb the important vitamins for a healthy immune system to fight off the radicals.
These will then lead to autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and more. I will go in depth to explain some of the diseases. Firstly, rheumatoid arthritis causes permanent joint damage as the immune system targets the joint linings making it swell and inflamed. It can either happen in both hands, wrists or knees.
Next would be type 1 diabetes is dependent on insulin but the immune system attacks and destroying the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Therefore, it is very important to know how to handle stress. Some may not know that they are stressed. Thus, it is important to know the symptoms and control it before it gets worse. There are variety of ways to handle stress and there will be at least one way that can help you control your stress.