Understanding Stress - Mind and Body
by Brittany A. Smith
conditions often leads to several long-term health consequences that can be
extremely severe.

The effects of stress can be physical, mental and emotional. Almost every part of the
body can be impacted negatively. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) identifies
certain areas of the body that are most susceptible to the damaging effects of
stress. These include skin and hair, the digestive tract, the reproductive organs, the
lungs and heart, and perhaps most of all, the brain. The effects of stress differ from
person to person, but they usually take place in one or more of the aforementioned
body parts. Sometimes the effects are more aggravating than dangerous, such as
the possibility of hair loss or outbreaks of acne and other skin conditions. But many
of the effects are much more severe, especially those that involve the heart, lungs,
the digestive tract and the brain.

Effects on the Heart

The build-up of stress can have a terrible impact on the cardiovascular system. In the
short term, stress causes one's heart rate to increase rapidly, which can lead to a
temporary heightening of blood pressure. Occasional stress is not necessarily harmful
to the heart, but chronic stress is linked to a number of negative conditions, including
high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and the build-up of
plaque in the arteries. These conditions are all risk factors for heart disease, which
has been linked to chronic stress in a number of studies conducted by Yale Medical

Effects on the Lungs

Often, when one is in a stressful situation, his or her breathing will grow quick and
shallow. This can be problematic enough for most people, but is especially dangerous
for those with asthma and other breathing problems. Stress can easily trigger a
severe asthma attack.

Effects on the Digestive System

Chronic stress can be very damaging to the digestive tract. In fact, for many people,
symptoms in the digestive tract provide the first clue that their stress levels have
gotten out of hand. Chronic stress can lead to a number of digestive issues, including
everything from indigestion to irritable bowel syndrome and even ulcers.

Effects on the Brain

Time and time again, stress has been shown to be at the root of a number of mental
health issues. A build up of stress can trigger or worsen depression, bipolar disorder,
phobias, eating disorders and substance abuse, among others.

Stress is linked to a wide array of physical and mental ailments. Working to reduce
stress is one of the best steps you can take to promote better health for mind and

About The Author

Brittany A. Smith

Argosy University offers a wide selection of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree
programs in a variety of psychology concentrations at 19 locations across the nation.
Unfortunately, stress plays a central
role in today's society. The fast pace
at which we live our busy lives and
the limited opportunities for
relaxation have created a population
of extremely stressed out people.
Many people see the wide ranging
effects of stress in their everyday
lives. These short-term effects of
stress include difficulty sleeping,
headaches, drowsiness, racing
thoughts and weight loss or weight
gain. These effects and others can be
highly aggravating and often create
more stress in a person's life. What's
worse, the build-up of these
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