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Categories > Mental and Emotional Health > Stress management

What stress can do to your body

Stress—especially chronic stress—takes its toll on us, not only mentally, but physically as well. Some experts estimate that as much as 90 percent of illness and disease is stress-related.

Ongoing stress can lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other health conditions. The effects of prolonged, untreated stress on your body aren’t always easy to identify since its symptoms can be attributed to physical illness or discomfort, such as a headache or backache. But recognizing early signs of stress can help you manage it before it harms your health. Use this head-to-toe guide to identify the telltale symptoms of stress. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to rule out other underlying health conditions.

head

  • migraine and tension headaches
  • anger, sadness and irritability
  • mood disorders like anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior
  • insomnia
  • inability to concentrate
  • forgetfulness
  • recurring colds
  • allergies

back & shoulders

  • backaches
  • shoulder aches

lungs

  • asthma flareups
  • shortness of breath

overall

  • sleep difficulties
  • decreased energy
  • weight gain or loss

joints

  • arthritis

genitals

  • lowered fertility
  • menstruation

irregularities

  • sexual dysfunction

stomach

  • bloating, cramping,

diarrhea and constipation

  • undereating or overeating
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • ulcerative colitis
  • ulcer
  • unborn baby’s risk of later developing mental illness

heart & blood

  • a pounding heart
  • high cholesterol levels
  • elevated blood pressure
  • high blood sugar levels

face

  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • acne
  • hives
  • wrinkles, creases and other signs of aging

mouth

  • teeth grinding

neck

  • neck aches
  • tight, dry throat