What are the effects of stress on medical and psychological conditions?
There is now evidence that points to abnormal stress responses as causing or contributing to various diseases or conditions. These include anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse. Stress can affect virtually any organ system, being associated with conditions as diverse as skin rashes or hives, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, certain gastrointestinal diseases, some cancers, and even the process of aging itself. Stress also seems to increase the frequency and severity of migraine headaches, episodes of asthma, and fluctuations of blood sugar in people with diabetes. There also is scientific evidence showing that people experiencing psychological stress are more prone to developing colds and other infections than their less-stressed peers. Overwhelming psychological stress (also called trauma) can cause both temporary (transient) and long-lasting (chronic) symptoms of a serious psychiatric illness called posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).