Last Editorial Review: 11/9/2006
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Stress Q&A by Dr. Stoppler

What are the long-term effects of stress on the body?

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD

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.

Since research has shown that high levels of stress are known to exert a negative influence on our immune systems, stressed individuals can experience frequent colds or other infections and illnesses. These symptoms might not be easily recognized as being stress-related. Other research has shown that stress can have a negative effect on the process of wound healing. Psychological stress can also worsen the symptoms of many medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurological conditions, chronic pain, and addictive disorders, to name a few.

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