Stress Management

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Diet for Stress Management Slideshow

What are the symptoms and effects of excess stress or "out-of-control" stress?

Manifestations of excess or poorly managed stress can be extremely varied. While many people report that stress induces headaches, sleep disturbances, feelings of anxiety or tension, anger, or concentration problems, others may complain of depression, lack of interest in food, increased appetite, or any number of other symptoms. In severe situations, one can experience overwhelming stress to the point of so-called "burnout," with loss of interest in normal activities.

Scientific studies have shown that psychological stress may worsen the symptoms of almost every known medical condition. Examples of conditions in which stress may worsen the intensity of symptoms include cardiovascular diseases, asthma, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, acne, fibromyalgia, and depression. While stress alone is not a cause of cardiovascular disease nor high blood pressure, it may actually worsen the progression of these diseases in many people.

Stress also has effects on the immune system. While some studies show that acute short-term stresses may actually be able to boost the body's immune response, chronic (long-term) stress has the effect of "wearing down" the immune system, leading to an increased susceptibility to colds and other infections. Scientific studies have also shown that stress can decrease the immune response to vaccinations and prolong wound healing.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2015
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