When you are in a stressful situation, your body releases two stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. These bring about changes in your body which are referred to as the Fight or Flight Response - they prepare your body to either run and hide, or defend yourself from danger.
This response is designed to protect you from short term danger, such as moving out of the way if a car is about to hit you. However, when a person is stressed for a prolonged period, such as being excessively busy at work for several months at a time, or caring for a sick family member for many years, these hormones will be released continuously and will have a more pronounced effect on the body. Below is a table showing the different effects on short term and long term stress, and how it causes problems in the body.
|Short-term Stress||Long-Term Stress|
|Increased heart rate||High blood pressure|
|Increased production of blood sugar||Diabetes|
|Up regulated nervous system||Lower pain threshold|
|Blood moves away from digestive system||Digestive problems such as IBS and indigestion|
|Blood away from reproductive system||Stress-related infertility|
|Blood clots more easily||DVT, strokes and heart attacks|
|Reduced effectiveness of immune system||Frequent infections and allergic responses|
|Increased muscle tension||Muscle and joint pain|