Stress is a part of life. It disturbs you not only emotionally but also physically and mentally. Stress, overthinking, anxiety are common phenomena developed due to numerous reasons. However, people do sometimes develop chronic stress that leads to numerous health conditions and disorders. According to doctors, stress can affect the brain significantly, leading a person to suffer from depression.
Before understanding the effects of stress on mental health, let’s understand stress in short.
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What is stress?
Stress is a natural phenomenon that triggers numerous biological responses. When a person feels a threat or a challenge, their body produces an excess of some types of stress hormones.
Stress triggers your fight-or-flight response to combat the stressor or flees from it. Normally, after the reaction happens, your body ought to unwind. Constant excess stress may lead to negative effects on health, probably for a longer duration.
Let’s take a look at various conditions your mind can suffer from due to excess stress.
Effects of stress on mental health
According to health experts, the body produces stress hormones called cortisol when you are stressed or depressed. These stress hormones lower happy hormones like dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin, and enkephalins. As per a 2014 study that researched various types of stress tests on physiology, cognition, and mood, physical and social stress have a greater impact on mood and emotional well-being.
Concentration and memory problems
Studies prove that chronic stress may develop issues with memory and concentration. According to a study on adolescent rats with acute stress, researchers found they faced memory performance issues than rats with no stress. Another study finds the stress-response pathways in the brain and their long-term effects on memory. Researchers found that certain hormonal imbalances during a stressful or traumatic occasion can disturb memory for a longer duration.
Anger and irritation are common traits of stressed or depressed people. According to a study, most individuals had mental stress as their reason for higher anger levels. Also, stress was found to be a major reason behind heart attacks in individuals. Another study investigated the relationship between stress levels, anger, and depression in caretakers. The researchers found an association between anger levels and care-related chronic stress.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), depression is an illness where a person experiences continuous and intense low moods. Studies found a link between depression and hypertension or chronic stress. As per research on 800 women, doctors found different types of stress and their connection to depression. Another study found both acute and chronic stress circumstances contributed to depression in women.
Doctors found a positive connection between addictive behaviors and stress. According to a research study, stress-related cognitive changes can play a significant role in addiction development in an individual. Studies prove that chronic stress may change the brain’s physical nature to promote addiction-forming behaviors. Another study proved genetic variations play a significant role in addiction and stress.
According to clinical studies, researchers found a link between stress and anxiety. Also, they found a link between stress and anxiety disorders similar to depression. Another study found the effects of stress at work and home on depression and anxiety levels. The study concluded people to experience high levels of work-related stress are more likely to experience depression and anxiety symptoms.
These are some effects your brain can experience while under excess stress. And this is why experts suggest adopting stress management activities that relieve stress and boost overall health.
Stress management tips
- Workout: Workout can help improve physical strength and health while reducing stress. Not only does it help build muscle mass, but it also strengthens physical performance. Working out daily helps enhance neurotransmitters that can keep you in a good mood.
- A healthy diet: A healthy diet is important as it provides all the essential nutrients for physical and mental health. Eating healthy food items provides essential vitamins and antioxidants that can help lower stress hormones and enhance overall health.
- Cardiovascular activities: Taking up a physical activity like swimming or playing a sport can help build a good mood and improve overall health. Not only does it lower stress, but it also burns excess fat present in the body. Thus, most experts suggest taking up a fun physical activity to enhance overall health, mood and lower stress.
- Yoga: Like working out in the gym, yoga can also strengthen mental and physical health. This not only lowers stress but also releases tension from the joints. Experts believe the benefits of yoga are long-lasting and improve overall health. Meditation is also one of the effective ways to manage stress and enhance mental health.
Other than these, an individual can try dancing, reading a novel, taking a warm bath, listening to music, playing with babies or pet animals, walking, jogging, watching funny videos, meeting friends, expressing to friends or family, etc.
You must take steps to manage your stress levels. Experts suggest stress management techniques that help decrease stress, boost mental and physical health.
Although taking stress is normal, excess stress can be dangerous both physically and mentally. Hence, it is always best to take up some activities that help lower stress and boost overall health.
However, it is advisable to consult a doctor to treat chronic stress and anxiety. Take proper medication and treatment that help lower stress.