By Dr. Mercola
Stress often starts in your head with a worry or a fear, but those feelings of anxiety, and perhaps even panic, don’t stay there. When you feel stressed, your body ramps up production of the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine.
This triggers the start of the stress response, and, like a snowball rolling down a mountain, it gains traction and speed until you’re ready for the proverbial attack.
Adrenaline, for instance, increases your heart rate, causing your heart to beat faster and ultimately raising blood pressure. Cortisol can interfere with the function of the inner lining of your blood vessels, triggering plaque buildup in your arteries, and increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Meanwhile, you brain communicates with your gut, sending the news that you’re stressed, and your gut responds in suit, altering what it would normally be doing so your body can collectively work to fight off this imminent stressor (whether it’s really an imminent stressor or not).
This stress response can be quite beneficial if you need to run from a predator, or even quickly cram for a big exam. Things get messy, however, when you feel stressed all or most of the time.
While an occasional stress response is normal and even healthy, ongoing, constant stress is not. On the contrary, it’s the recipe for sickness, from chronic diseases to acute infections.
What Happens When You’re Chronically Stressed?
In the video above, Emory University professor of medicine Sharon Bergquist shows what happens in your body when you’re under chronic stress. Let’s say, you lose your job or are struggling from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from abuse you suffered as a child.
Excess stress hormones are released far too often. Your stress response becomes imbalanced; it’s not shutting off. Your immune
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