To an extent, stress is a fact of life for all of us. Its purpose is to overcharge the body, offering it additional acuity, energy, and strength needed to address the challenges at hand. However, stress can also be very taxing, and chronic stress is no joke. Below, we examine the effects of stress on our minds, bodies, and social lives.
Stress is most immediately processed by your brain. Once triggered, your brain unleashes a cascade of hormones that create many of the other reactions we commonly associate with stress.
Stress “Enters” the Amygdala
The amygdala receives images and sounds and accordingly assigns them the emotion of panic.
When the amygdala perceives danger, it signals the hypothalamus.
Signals from the Hypothalamus
The hypothalamus acts like a command center, controlling the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which speed up or slow down responses, respectively.
With the signal from the amygdala, the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for triggering the fight-or-flight response to provide you with a burst of energy to confront or flee from danger.
When activated by the hypothalamus, the sympathetic nervous system triggers the release of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline.
Epinephrine creates a chain reaction of the common effects of stress: faster heartbeat, muscle tension, quickness of breath, and sharpened senses.
The Effects of Stress
Stress affects both our minds and our bodies. Because changes in our psychology can impact us physically and vice versa, the effects of stress can be interrelated, and we often experience distinct symptoms — especially in cases of chronic stress.
The symptoms and impacts of stress can vary greatly, from very subtle to severe. They are hard to pinpoint and often create a cycle that can be difficult to break. Don’t let stress get the best of you! Learn more about the physical and psychological effects of stress is the first step to living a healthier, happy, and stress-free life.
Pursuing a Counseling Career
Interested in helping people find healthy ways to deal with the physical and psychological effects of stress? Consider an online master’s degree in mental health counseling from Malone University. The program gives you the opportunity to gain hands-on experience while still benefiting from an online classroom environment.