How Does Stress Affect Health And What Can You Do About It?

stress and depression To answer the question, how does stress affect health, I must focus primarily on your mental health obviously because this is a depression website. No surprise.

Stress and depression are strongly connected due to the patterns of our brains. If you are experiencing a great deal of anxiety, insecurity, low self-esteem, social isolation and lack of control over work and home life, these kinds of stresses have powerful effects on your mental health (and physical health for that matter but that’s another article).

When you are dealing with stress on a regular basis for a long period of time, how does stress affect health of your brain? Well, your actual brain chemicals are affected. When your brain releases too much stress hormone (specifically norepinephrine), depression sets in.

First, What Are Some Common Stresses You May Be Having?

Environment – related to food, housing, health, freedom, or mobility

Social issues - struggles with difficult people and social defeat, or relationship conflict, deception, or break ups

Major events - birth and deaths, marriage, and divorce.

Life experiences - poverty, unemployment, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, heavy drinking, or insufficient sleep can also cause stress.

If you are a student or in a workplace, you may face stress from exams, project deadlines, and group projects.

How Does Stress Affect Health While We Are Babies?

Some researchers believe that dealing with stress caused from our mother’s stresses during our development in her womb (prenatal stress) is one key contributor to our inability to respond healthily to stress. Another major one is if we were sexually abused as a child.

[While I was pregnant with my first child, I was suicidal due to life stresses. For the first few months of my son’s life, he was colicky. Do the two have any connection? It’s a possibility. I do notice that my first born, who is now in school, is very sensitive compared to his younger brother who was born during much better circumstances.]

How Does Stress Affect Health And How Should You Respond?

So, to repeat myself, dealing with stress over a long period of time can lead to poor health or illness. To avoid this, stress must be managed.

How Does Stress Affect Health - How Can You Manage Stress Effectively?

Dealing with stress requires some positive changes. Stress management is all about techniques that will equip you with effective coping strategies for dealing with stress. Stress management is effective when you use strategies to cope with or alter stressful situations. There are several ways of coping with stress, such as controlling the source of stress or learning to set limits and to say "No" to some demands that bosses or family members may make.

One of the most recommended stress busting strategies straight from the medical journals is speaking with a certified counselor. You can even speak with one from the comfort of your home saving you costs of travel, childcare, etc.

Other top 'dealing with stress' management strategies include…


conflict resolution,

getting a hobby,


deep breathing,

relaxation techniques,

art therapy,

time management,

and natural supplements.

Many of you may remember that our handbook goes over many of these excellent stress buster techniques and provides specific actions to take proven by the medical journals.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, you’ll absolutely love the techniques created by Dr. Richard Shane. He is a psychotherapist that has been referred to by over 90 physicians and psychologists. His techniques have successfully changed the lives of insomnia sufferers around the world.

So, remember, when dealing with stress properly, you need to practice some powerful strategies as I've suggested. Don't go this alone. Just like I did, you need someone to help you through it.

There is hope! You are worth it!

Merri Ellen

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Sources of How Does Stress Affect Health:

The Stress of Life, Hans Selye, 1956.

EHealthMD: What is stress Retrieved September 3, 2008.

Selye, Hans (1950). "Diseases of adaptation". Wisconsin medical journal 49 (6): 515–6.

Seyle, Hans (1936). "A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents". Nature 138: 32. doi:10.1038/138032a0.

"Selye Biologic Reaction to Stress chart", Chronic Fatigue Unmasked, by Dr. Gerald E. Poesnecker, February 1999 (ISBN 0916285618)

Selye (197). Confusion and controversy in the stress field. 1. pp. 37–44.

Ron de Kloet, E; Joels M. & Holsboer F. (2005). "Stress and the brain: from adaptation to disease". Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6 (6): 463–475. doi:10.1038/nrn1683. PMID 15891777.

Aldwin, Carolyn (2007). Stress, Coping, and Development, Second Edition. New York: The Guilford Press. ISBN 1572308400.

Davis et al. (June 2007). Prenatal Exposure to Maternal Depression and Cortisol Influences Infant Temperament. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, v46 n6 p737.

O'connor, Heron, Golding, Beveridge & Glover. (June 2002). Maternal antenatal anxiety and children's behavioural/emotional problems at 4 years. Br J Psychiatry. 180:478-9.

Schore, Allan (2003). Affect Regulation & the Repair of the Self. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0393704076.

Michael D. DeBellis, George P. Chrousos, Lorah D. Dorn, Lillian Burke, Karin Helmers, Mitchel A. Kling, Penelope K. Trickett, and Frank W. Putnam. Hypothalamic—Pituitary—Adrenal Axis Dysregulation in Sexually Abused Girls

a b Keil, R.M.K. (2004) Coping and stress: a conceptual analysis Journal of Advanced Nursing, 45(6), 659–665

a b c Viner, R. (1999) Putting Stress in Life: Hans Selye and the Making of Stress Theory Social Studies of Science, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Jun., 1999), pp. 391-410

Petersen, C., Maier, S.F., Seligman, M.E.P. (1995). Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504467-3

Seligman, M.E.P. (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-2328-X

Seligman, M.E.P. (1990). Learned Optimism. New York: Knopf. (Reissue edition, 1998, Free Press, ISBN 0-671-01911-2).

Holmes, T.H. and Rahe, R.H. (1967). The social readjustments rating scales. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 11:213-218.

Thanks for learning about how does stress affect health!