7 May 2013

Stress Less!

Specific stress effects include:

  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Hair loss
  • Eating disorders. Research has shown that Anorexia and bulimia are 10 times more common in women than in men, and this may have something to do with stress levels. Like depression, this illness has been linked to low levels of serotonin and is often treated with serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs.
  • Stomach ailments. Stress can make you reach for junk or comfort foods, or upset your stomach to the point that you feel like you can’t eat. Common stress-related stomach troubles include cramps, bloating, heartburn, and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Depending on how you respond, these can lead to weight loss or weight gain.
  • Skin reactions. Stress can lead to breakouts and even itchy rashes and hives in some people.
  • Emotional conditions. From being in a blue or irritable mood to more serious mental issues like depression, your emotional health suffers when there’s stress in your life. Women are better than men at hiding some emotions like anger and aggressiveness because the parts of their brains responsible for these emotions are larger than men's, but depression strikes women twice as often as men. “The emotional effects of stress on women can range from postpartum depression after pregnancy to depression after menopause.”
  • Sleep problems. Trouble falling or staying asleep is common in women affected by stress, and this is particularly counter-productive since a good night’s sleep can help ease stress.
  • Concentration difficulty. Stress makes it hard to focus and be effective in your responsibilities at home or work, and that can compound your problems if your stress comes from your job to begin with.
  • Heart disease. The stress of competing in today’s job market has increased women’s heart disease risk. Stress can negatively affect the entire cardiovascular system, and lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
  • Lowered immune response. One of the more complicated physical reactions to stress is your body’s lessened ability to fight off disease, whether it’s a cold or a flare-up of a chronic condition.
  • Cancer. Some studies have suggested a link between stress and the development of breast and ovarian cancer. In one study, researchers found that the risk of breast cancer was increased by 62 percent in women who had experienced more than one highly stressful life event, like divorce or the death of a spouse.
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
Culled from www.everydayhealth.com

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