How does stress affect my body and my health?

Everyone has stress. We have short-term stress, like getting lost while driving or missing the bus. Even everyday events, such as planning a meal or making time for errands, can be stressful. This kind of stress can make us feel worried or anxious.

Other times, we face long-term stress, such as racial discrimination, a life-threatening illness, or divorce. These stressful events also affect your health on many levels. Long-term stress is real and can increase your risk for some health problems, like depression.

Both short and long-term stress can have effects on your body. Research is starting to show the serious effects of stress on our bodies. Stress triggers changes in our bodies and makes us more likely to get sick. It can also make problems we already have worse. It can play a part in these problems:

  • harder to get pregnant (infertility)
  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • irritability
  • lack of energy
  • lack of concentration
  • eating too much or not at all
  • anger
  • sadness
  • higher risk of asthma and arthritis flare-ups
  • tension
  • stomach cramping
  • stomach bloating
  • skin problems, like hives
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • weight gain or loss
  • heart problems
  • high blood pressure
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • diabetes
  • neck and/or back pain
  • less sexual desire