Several years ago, my husband raced to the emergency room, sure that he was having a heart attack. As it turned out, my young spouse was not, in fact, having a heart attack, but was experiencing stress-induced chest pains. Over the years, I too, have found myself battling mysterious symptoms that seemed to have been triggered by stressful periods in my life. My hair, skin, stomach, and nails have all reacted negatively in times of stress. And those are just some of the many unusual ways stress affects your body, according to science.
Many people know that stress can cause emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety, but the don't often realize that physical ailments can be associated with stress, as well. You might blame your runny nose on allergies, or your headache on needing new glasses, when these can actually be physical manifestations of stress.
It's important to manage your stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) suggests that if you are experiencing symptoms of stress you should consider taking a time out, eating healthier meals, exercising more often, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and getting more rest. If you don't, you may find yourself battling some of these unusual symptoms that can be brought upon by stress.
1. Your Periods Might Become Irregular
According to Everyday Health, chronic stress can cause your hormones to become imbalanced which can result in unpredictable or even missed periods. Hormone imbalance due to stress can also cause heavier bleeding and longer cycles.
2. Your Brain Can Get Smaller
Research reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry found a reduction of gray matter in patients who had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as compared to those who had suffered a traumatic experience, but were not experiencing symptoms of PTSD.
3. You Can Develop Diabetes
The liver produces extra glucose in times of stress to give your body an extra boost, according to Health Line. The body may not be able to process all of the additional glucose if you are under chronic stress putting you at an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.
4. You Can Have Problems Managing Weight
Health Line also reported that chronic stress can be a factor in maintaining healthy weight. People who are dealing with stress may overeat, or find that they cannot eat.
5. You Can Suffer From Diarrhea
Shape reported that stress can trigger a chemical known as corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) that affects your intestinal function and can cause diarrhea. This is a fight or flight response that is intended to remove excess weight in case you have to flee.
6. Your Hair May Fall Out
Flor A. Mayoral, a dermatologist at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, told Shape that your hair can fall out up to three months after a traumatic event or stressful time period.
7. Your Ears Can Start Ringing
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, can be caused by stress according to Harvard Health Publications. Tinnitus can also cause stress, which makes for a never-ending circle. Patients can try biofeedback, a relaxation technique that helps control stress by changing the body's responses to stress.
8. You Skin Can Break Out
Mayoral also explained that stress causes your body's sebaceous glands, which secrete an anti-inflammatory waxy oil, to work harder which can cause bouts of stress-related acne or eczema.
9. You Can Develop Persistent Cold Symptoms
According to the New York Times, cortisol (your body's anti-inflammatory stress response) is overproduced in people who are chronically stressed. This causes the immune system to become resistant to the cortisol and cold symptoms linger long after the virus is gone.