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Harmful Effects of Stress

The longer our bodies are under stress, the more likely it will lead to uncomfortable and sometimes disabling symptoms or disorders. Our bodies are not capable of maintaining high levels of stress or arousal for prolonged periods of time without its' systems beginning to break down. The stress response in humans is better designed for short bursts of energy and strength to survive immediate and short-lived challenges or dangers. Our bodies can maintain greater health status if there are sufficient periods of nonarousal between the heightened arousal episodes. The stress-adaptation theory suggests that stress depletes our reserve capacity, thereby increasing our vulnerability to health problems.

Prolonged stress can lead to the development of a broad range of stress-related disorders. These disorders are called psychosomatic disorders can range from the somewhat painful and annoying to life-threatening diseases. Just a few examples of these types of symptoms and disorders include:

One of the body's systems that is most vulnerable to the effects of prolonged stress is the immune ssystem. Hormones released during the stress response can have a destructive effect on important immune system cells. Under prolonged periods of stress, the immune system will become less capable of fighting off illness and disease, thus making the body more prone to colds, flu, or bacterial infections.


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