According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), stress causes as much as 60% of human illness and disease, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, strokes, and mental health disorders.
Dr. Roger Henderson, one of the most respected physicians in the UK, shares some of the health conditions that can be caused by stress, as well as how to manage them better:
The Mental Health Foundation in the UK found that nearly 33% of all Britons are suffering from career and financial stress, which results in chronic fatigue.
“The stresses and strains of daily life can be exhausting and can make you feel drained. It has been shown that mental health problems such as anxiety can leave you feeling more tired, even after resting. This is the key to knowing if you are suffering from stress-related fatigue,” says Dr. Henderson.
By identifying the sources of your stress, steps can be taken to resolve it, whether personally or by seeking professional help. Studies have shown that exercise, meditation, and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to reduce stress levels, which can help to minimize mental fatigue.
2. Hair Loss
Research has shown that stress disrupts the hormones that keep hair follicles active, which causes hair loss and thinning when brushing or washing. Often, hair loss can also be distressing, which can become a vicious cycle.
“It’s important to remember that in most cases hair will grow back with proper care and using the correct methods to reduce stress, which is the source of the problem. If you’re experiencing drastic or sudden hair loss you should consult with your doctor as this could be related to an underlying health condition.”
Stress causes an increase in the stress hormone known as cortisol, which disrupts the balance of the hormones responsible for inducing sleep, which can cause a symptom known as hyperarousal.
“When we are stressed we often find ourselves lying in bed staring into the darkness, while constantly thinking about all our worries,” explains Dr. Henderson. He advises avoiding watching TV or using your cellular phone at least two hours before bed because studies have shown that the blue light has a direct and negative effect on sleeping patterns.
“It is also important to go to bed at the same time every night and to get up at the same time every morning,” he says, as this helps to create a sustainable sleeping cycle.
4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
More than 45 million Americans and 13 million Britons are affected by IBS per year, with 70% of doctors reporting that it is the most common digestive condition that they treat. Symptoms include bloating, constipation, discomfort, and diarrhea, with stress being found to be the most common trigger.
Dr. Henderson says that it is widely recognized that there is a connection between the brain and the digestive system, which means that our mood and stress levels can upset our stomachs.
“Stress can alter the connection between the gut and the brain and affect the movement and contractions of the GI tract, which can cause IBS symptoms to flare up,” he says.
Practicing breathing techniques, calming exercise, spending time with friends and family, and reducing the amount of refined sugar and caffeine in your diet can help to prevent it.
5. Excessive Sweating
Studies have shown that sweat produced by physical exercise or heat comes from eccrine sweat glands, while sweat from stress comes from the apocrine glands.
“When our bodies are in stress mode, otherwise known as fight-or-flight, these glands push sweat to the surface of the skin. If excess sweating is interfering with your daily life it may be a good idea to visit your GP,” advises Henderson.
6. Teeth Grinding
Officially known as bruxism, teeth grinding affects up to 70% of Britons, even though they aren’t actually aware of it. The most common symptom is a light headache but can also include earache, sore jaw muscles, and severe sleep disorders. Teeth will also show signs of cracks and wear, which can result in tooth loss.
It is caused by unconsciously clenching the jaw at night during sleep, where both sets of teeth grind against each other.
“Your dentists may recommend a guard specially made for your teeth to create a protective barrier from friction to prevent increased tooth wear and reduce the discomfort of jaw muscles.”