August 6, 2020

Stress Physical Complaints

You may not feel taken seriously when the doctor says that stress can be the cause of your physical complaints. It then seems as if the doctor means that the complaints have been imagined or that you are showing off. However, a psychological problem, such as long-term stress, can also cause physical complaints. How can stress cause physical complaints? And can you do something about (the symptoms of) stress? Read it in this article.

What is stress?

Stress literally means tension. At a stress moment, all kinds of hormones are released that help your body to take action. This makes your heart rate and breathing faster, for example. When the stress moment is over, your body returns to its normal state. You will experience this as relief: the tension will slide away from you. All kinds of events can cause stress. Think of:

  • A major event
  • Minor daily irritations, such as the traffic jam
  • Worrying about a physical complaint or about the future
  • Busy at work

The human body not only gives a stress response during a stressful situation. This can also come later, when the voltage just decreases. A well-known example of this is tension headaches that only develop on the weekend or at the beginning of the holiday.

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What is the use of stress?

If you find yourself in a stressful situation, your body responds to this by producing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones ensure that:

  • Your heart will beat faster
  • Your breathing accelerates
  • Your blood pressure rises
  • Your immune system gets a boost
  • You get a higher pain threshold

Your body is actually made ready to fight or flee in this way. This reaction used to be useful when, for example, you came face to face with a wild animal, but nowadays we are dealing with other stress situations. Think of high workload, money problems and the loss of a loved one.

When is stress unhealthy?

Stress does not have to cause negative side effects as long as the perceived tension does not linger for a long time or is constantly present. There are even indications that short-term stress can also have a positive effect on your functioning, for example if you have to meet a deadline. It is therefore also called ‘healthy stress’. Note: this does not mean that stress is really healthy, but the stress in this case can not hurt anything.

Are you under high pressure for a long time? For example through a stressful job or exam stress ? Then stress hormones can have a negative effect on your body and physical complaints can arise. Stress that lasts for a long time is therefore also referred to as unhealthy stress.

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